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Coffee and walnut cake

This traditional cake never fails to please; its bitter-sweet flavours make it one of Pam's all-time favourites. She likes to use old-fashioned Camp coffee essence for the coffee bit, however, you can use instant coffee or very strong freshly brewed coffee instead.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and Line 2 x 20cm cake tins.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using either a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric whisk, beat the butter to a cream. Add the brown and caster sugars and beat until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tbsp flour with each and beating thoroughly before adding the next. Stir in the coffee essence. Now carefully fold in the remaining flour, half at a time, with a large metal spoon. Fold in the chopped walnuts, and sufficient milk to give a soft dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, spreading it out evenly with the back of the spoon. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the tops are a light golden brown and the cakes spring back into shape when gently pressed. Leave in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, prepare the buttercream. Beat the butter to a cream, add the icing sugar and the coffee essence and beat until light and creamy.

To make glacé icing for the topping, sift the icing sugar into the bowl, add the coffee essence and 1-2 tbsp boiling water, and mix until thick.

Spread one of the cooled cakes with the buttercream. Sandwich together with the second cake and cover the top with the glacé icing. Finish with the chopped walnuts.

This cake will keep for a week in an airtight tin.

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For the cake

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 200g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
  • 100g light soft brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 50ml coffee essence (or 1 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water, or 3 tbsp very strong fresh coffee)
  • 100g chopped walnuts
  • 25-50ml milk

For the buttercream:

  • 60g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
  • 125g icing sugar, sifted
  • 10ml coffee essence (or 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp boiling water or 1 tbsp strong fresh coffee)

For the topping

  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp coffee essence (or 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp boiling water, or 1 tbsp strong fresh coffee)
  • 50g chopped walnuts

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Cakes Handbook