You already know that I have a weakness for traditional, old-style recipes. Speaking of which, I recently learned that, according to a survey published in 2013 in the National Trust Magazine, Coffee and walnut cake came in as the third favourite cake among the British population —with 102,000 slices sold each year. So, since that very moment, I just knew that I needed to get my teeth into a fair slice of this dreamy, crunchy cake as soon as possible. And who wouldn’t?
Believe me when I tell you that this popular cake is very, very easy to make. Generally, it consists of two sponge nutty cakes, flavoured with strong espresso coffee, sandwiched together with a generous layer of coffee flavoured buttercream in between, and frosted with the same rich and subtle coffee buttercream. What kind of coffee lover, then, would turn down such a proof of earthy deliciousness.
The aforementioned survey also revealed that more than 171,000 slices of the classic Victoria sponge cake —crowned as the nation’s favourite teatime treat— were sold annually. This indisputable winner was followed by its closest rival —the chocolate cake— with a total of 108,000 slices. The spicy carrot cake, which held a worthy fourth place, had been eaten by the trifle of 96,000 hungry cake eaters. Astonishing figures, aren’t they?
I’m not aware of any sort of survey of this kind about this particular issue in Spain, although I’m pretty sure there must be quite a few. But I’ve always wondered how it is that we, Spanish sweet-toothed people, seem to be fonder of pastries than we are of cakes. I figure there must be like dozens, hundreds of different common types of mouth-watering pastries, which are baked, fried or cooked in every region throughout the year and on special occasions (such as “torrijas”, “buñuelos”, “panellets”, “rosquillas”, “hojaldres”, etc.). But then, this is just my personal impression. Does anyone feel the same about this particular matter?
With all that said, it is my opinion that, in the event of any whisper of a doubt about the fairness of that third place, it is worth trying to clarify this question the best way I can think of; so, let’s stir ourselves into action and have a glorious cake session. Who’s in?
*Source: Daily Mail Online
- 225 g (1 cup) unsalted butter
- 225 g (1 cup) light-brown sugar, packed
- 4 large eggs
- 60 ml ( ¼ cup ) strong espresso coffee, freshly brewed and cooled
- 225 g (1¾ cups) self-raising flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 60 g ( ½ cup ) walnuts
- 2 - 4 tablespoons (30 - 60 ml) milk (optional)
- 2 tbsp strong espresso coffee, freshly brewed, and cooled
- 170 g ( ¾ cup ) unsalted butter
- 345 g (3 cups) confectioner's or icing sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 - 3 tablespoons (30 - 45 ml) milk (optional)
- Preheat the oven (electric) to 350º F (180ºC) and place the oven rack in the center position.
- Butter two, 8-inch (20 cm Ø) round cake pans (bottom and sides). Line the bottom of both pans with parchment paper and butter the top surface of the parchment paper as well. Set aside.
- Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl), beat butter at medium-high speed until soft and creamy.
- Add light brown sugar and beat for 3-4 more minutes until light and fluffy. With a rubber spatula, scrape down batter from paddle, sides and bottom of the bowl. Repeat as necessary along the way.
- With the mixer still running, now at medium-low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to completely incorporate each egg before adding the next egg. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
- If you have been using your electric mixer, switch it off now and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour in 2-3 batches.
- Just before the flour is almost totally incorporated, add the coffee and chopped walnuts and keep going just until combined.
- If needed, add a little milk until you have a smooth batter that drops reluctantly off the spoon.
- Divide the batter evenly (you can use a kitchen scale here for higher accuracy) between the two prepared pans and smooth the top surface with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top springs back when lightly pressed, and a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. If not, check every 2 minutes until it does.
- Let cool inside the pans for 5 minutes.
- Finally, unmold the cakes and let them cool completely upside down on a cooling rack before frosting.
- In the bowl of your electric (stand or manual) mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes until soft.
- Gradually, sift in the confectioner's sugar and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy for 3-4 minutes more.
- Add the cooled coffee and mix until evenly combined.
- If needed, add a little milk, one tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency.
- Transfer one cake to a cake stand or serving plate (the bottom layer cake will always be the one that turned out less attractive from the oven) and with an offset spatula (or a spoon) spread a generous layer of the coffee buttercream evenly over the bottom cake to the edge.
- Place the second cake atop buttercream and spread a new frosting layer on top of the cake. Using an offset spatula generously spread it evenly.
- You can arrange a few walnuts halves on top to decorate.
It keeps covered at room temperature for 2-3 days (up to 4 days if kept in the refrigerator, although it must be served at room temperature).
- The flavours and deliciousness of this cake just keep getting better after the first day, but then, you'll have to sit and wait... I know, I know, that's quite a test to pass, isn't it?
- Nacional Coffee Cake Day: April 7th