Coffee and Walnut Cake

Brendan's Coffee and Walnut cakeI recently read the findings of a survey about Britain’s favourite cakes and noticed that coffee and walnut cake was up there with lemon drizzle, victoria sponge and the other ‘usual suspects’.  In my experience, however, coffee and walnut can often be a bit bland and disappointing. After experimenting with various recipes I’ve plumped for this version which uses a fair bit of coffee. The photo suggests one way of decorating the top but there are limitless possibilities for arranging your walnuts. Enjoy!

This recipe takes an hour from start to finish and the cake will keep for several days in a sealed box at room temperature. Serves 8-10.


  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 65g walnut pieces
  • 3 large eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsps instant coffee granules (I use Nescafé ‘Azera’ brand which is micro ground, but a good quality instant coffee is fine too).

For the filling

  • 200g butter (soft)
  • 100g cream cheese e.g Philadelphia full fat
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 3 tsps instant coffee granules
  • 60g walnut halves for decoration (may be toasted and sprinkled with icing sugar – see  end of recipe)


You will also need 2 x 23cm loose-bottomed sponge tins. Grease and bottom line with non-stick parchment.

Preheat the oven at 180°C/gas mark 4.


Using an electric beater, whisk the butter and sugar till light, pale and fluffy. Chop the walnuts for the cake fairly finely. Crack the eggs into a bowl, break them up with a whisk or fork and add them a little at a time to the butter and sugar, beating well after each addition.

Mix the flour and baking powder together and mix into the butter and sugar gently, with the mixer on a slow speed. Dissolve the coffee granules in 1 tbsp boiling water, and add to the cake at low speed. Turn off the beater.

Chop the walnuts and fold gently into the cake mixture with a metal spoon.

Divide the mixture between the two cake tins. For accuracy it is best to weigh each tin to ensure same amount of batter. Smooth the top lightly with a small palette knife. Bake for 18 – 22 minutes on the middle shelf.

The cakes are cooked when a skewer gently inserted comes out clean. I have noticed mine are pretty much consistently done after 20 minutes, but it will depend on your oven.

Remove from oven. Leave in tins for 5 minutes, and then turn our onto a cooling rack (to stop sponges sticking to your cooling rack, lightly spray with an oil-spray, or just dip your fingers into a little flavorless oil and rub the wires of the rack with your oiled fingers).

To make the frosting, beat the soft butter and cream cheese till soft and pale with an electric beater for 4 minutes at high speed. Then add the sugar and beat until mixed, say one minute.  Stir 1 tbsp boiling water into the coffee granules then mix it into the buttercream for 30 seconds.

As soon as it is cool, turn one half of the cake upside down on a plate or board, spread it with a good third of the buttercream, then place the second half on top.

Spread the remaining buttercream on top and decorate to suit. For a professional-looking finish, use a cake scraper to mark the top, and a piping bag and a plain and star nozzle (see photos).

Decorate with finely chopped walnuts or hazelnuts, using a pastry-cutter to give a central circle. Pipe buttercream as per photo and place a walnut half at edge, say one half per slice. (I toast the walnut halves in the oven for 6-7 minutes at 180ºC.

When cool, dust with some icing sugar. But both steps are optional depending on time.) For speed, just spread the filling on top with a palette knife and there will also be enough to cover the sides as well).


9 Responses to “Coffee and Walnut Cake”

  1. September 4, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    That looks devine! Very well executed indeed! Thank you for sharing the recipe :O)

  2. Olga
    October 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    I utterly love this cake it reminds me of growing up in rural Ireland . I made it using this very recipe and it went down a storm here in London with my neighbours.
    Thanks so much and please do a course in the big smoke.
    You also flew the flag do well for us exiles . You made me very proud!

  3. October 30, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    Definitely the best looking coffee and walnut cake I’ve ever seen; it’s beautiful! Will be trying this recipe as I’ve made quite a few and am yet to find a favourite.
    Also, love the article about your time on the bake off, so lovely to read. It must be such a great experience despite the pressure, congratulations on getting to the final and doing so well!

  4. Cameron Etchells
    October 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    Looks amazing! Another one of the divine 70s cakes Brendan!

  5. Jessica
    November 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    Brendan, this cake is fantastic. I have made it today an it turned out perfect, thank you for such a good receipe! You need to advertise your website a bit better as I only got here by mistake. Thanks again, Jessica

    • brendan
      November 2, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

      Thank you Jessica. Really pleased for you. And I will speak to the media people about how to raise the profile of the site too.
      Warm wishes Brendan

      • Simon
        November 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

        Hi Brendan
        Love your recipes and the website. As Jessica said, I only came by it by chance. Looking
        Forward to some new wonderful bakes from you in the future

  6. January 26, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Me too, Brendan, i.e. came across website by accident. When are you going to write a cookery book? Your style of explaining is very approachable and doesn’t talk down to people or expect them to know things already. Thanks. ps have sent you a question about oil in cakes.

    • brendan
      January 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

      Thank you Yve. There is talk of a book and a revised version is out with publishers currently. but things move slowly in that sector so have to be patient. but lots of other good things happening. Best regards

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