Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake

I was feeling in a generous mood so decided to make a cake to share with my colleagues at Monday morning tea. Having plenty of walnuts in the house, I decided to make this delicious looking sponge from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen. Though the recipe calls for the batter to be made up in a food processor, the bowl of my processor is not large enough to hold the entire batter so I went the old fashioned way and used a bowl and wooden spoon. The results spoke for themselves!




  • 50g Walnut pieces
  • 225g Caster Sugar
  • 225g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
  • 200g plain flour
  • 4 tsp of instant espresso powder
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-2 x 15ml tbs milk

Buttercream frosting

  • 350g icing sugar
  • 175g soft unsalted butter
  • 2 ½ tsp instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of boiling water
  • 25g walnut halves, to decorate

To begin with, place the walnut pieces and sugar in the food processor and blitz into a powder.

If you’re using a food processor, add the eggs, butter, flour, espresso powder, baking powder and bicarb and process to a smooth batter. If, like me, you’d like a little meditative stirring, pour the nutty powder into a bowl and add those ingredients.

When all is combined, add the milk little by little to achieve a dropping consistency. (NB: Nigella recommends those making it by hand should cream the butter and sugar together, then add the ground nuts followed by the rest of the ingredients. I neglected to read this before I began and it certainly made no difference to the texture or rise of the cake.)

Now, divide the mixture between two greased and lined 20cm round cake tins and pop into the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes and then stand in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack, or plate to cool completely before icing.

While the cakes are baking, I get on with the buttercream frosting. Placing the soft butter in a bowl, or food processor, cream it together with the sifted icing sugar and then add the coffee and beat until smooth.  I also added a teaspoon of vanilla essence because the coffee I used was not strong enough and I didn’t feel there was enough flavour.

I chose to ice the cakes individually as I had many people to share it with. The icing perfectly covered the two cakes and looked lovely with the walnut halves on top. I didn’t have any instant coffee so I made a pot of plunger coffee to use in the cake and icing but as a result, there was almost no coffee flavour at all. However, the texture and walnut flavour was delicious and the cake disappeared in no time. I will definitely be making this again, but with instant coffee granules in future.

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