This is a soft and moist Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake, full of mellow coffee and walnuts flavours with a creamy coffee buttercream frosting.
Coffee and Walnut Cake is a staple of most English tearooms and a firm favourite of the nation. As a child, I firmly felt that any cake flavoured with coffee belonged in the same Room 101 as those coffee creams from a box of chocolates. Now, it is one of my absolute favourite cakes.
For this recipe, I wanted to create a coffee and walnut cake recipe that produced a soft and moist cake, but in loaf form, because, to be honest, it's far easier! I really like the texture of this final cake and the addition of a little cinnamon and vanilla extract really brings out the coffee flavours.
This Jamaican Ginger Cake is full of spice and stem ginger.
What makes this Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake so good?
✔️ Soft and moist cake with mellow coffee and walnut flavours
I prefer a soft coffee cake rather than a springy spongey one. Therefore, this recipe contains soft brown sugar, instead of white sugar, which gives an extra nuttiness to the cake and enhances the coffee and walnut flavours.
✔️ Vanilla extract
Using a whole tablespoon sweetens up the bitterness of the coffee.
✔️Grinding the walnuts first
Chopping the walnuts up, even very small, tends to leave the coffee and walnut loaf cake with sporadic bits of walnut throughout, and they also often clump together at the bottom of the cake. Grinding them up instead gives bags of walnut flavour in every bite.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Unsalted butter: or you can use salted butter but omit the quarter of a teaspoon of salt. Spreadable butter has oil already added, so if using this only use 3 eggs. I don't recommend using margarine, it changes the flavour of the cake.
Light soft brown sugar: has a very distinct nuttiness to it. After all, that is why it is the favoured sugar to use in coffee. You can substitute with other sugars, e.g. golden or white caster (superfine) sugar.
Self raising flour: can be substituted with plain (all-purpose) flour, if so add another teaspoon of baking powder.
Baking powder: to ensure the coffee and walnut cake rises.
Eggs: use UK large, or if in the US use extra large.
Instant coffee: or you can use instant espresso powder, if so simply mix in with your flour rather than dissolving in boiling water.
Cinnamon: gives a slight cinnamon undertone to this coffee and walnut loaf cake, the flavour works really well.
Walnuts: ground walnut halves are used in the cake and whole on top to decorate. We reduce the flour content in as because we are using ground walnuts.
Vanilla extract: to sweeten the coffee flavour.
Fine salt: helps to bring out the flavour, can be substituted with sea salt flakes or kosher salt.
Icing sugar (confectioners' sugar): for the coffee butter icing.
See end of post RECIPE CARD for precise quantities and instructions.
1. Mix your coffee and boiling water together and set aside to cool.
2. Grind your walnuts until they are sand-like.
3. Line your loaf tin.
4. Beat together your butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, this can take 1-2 minutes.
5. Sift together your flour, cinnamon and salt.
6. Add one egg and a tablespoon of your flour mixture to your beaten butter and sugar and beat on a low setting until all the egg has been mixed in. Repeat with the rest of your eggs.
7. Beat in your coffee and vanilla extract.
8. Mix in your remaining flour, give the batter a beat for about 10 seconds to ensure fully mixed.
9. Fold in your ground walnuts.
10: Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer/cocktail stick inserted into the centre, comes out with nearly clean, just a few bits of cake are fine because we want the cake to be moist inside.
11: Once your cake is cool, make your butter icing by firstly beating your butter until smooth.
12. Gradually beat in your icing sugar.
13. Using a piping bag and Jem 3R tip pipe sausages of icing over the top of the cake, then smooth through the centre leaving the edges in their semi-circle shapes.
14. Sprinkle over chopped walnuts and decorate down the centre with walnut halves.
Fully beat in each egg before adding another.
I have rushed this stage in the past and ended up with a split (curdled) mixture, not that that was the end of the world, the cakes turned out fine, but, depending on the recipe, it can affect the final texture of the cake, so not worth taking the risk.
Truth is, eggs don't much like being mixed into butter and sugar and can be quite resistant. The egg yolk needs to bring the butter and water from the eggs together to emulsify, otherwise the mixture will not stabilise and this will affect the end result of the cake. So it is worth taking your time with this stage.
To help your coffee fully dissolve
Because we don't add a lot of boiling water to our coffee to dissolve it, it can become clumpy and refuse to dissolve.
To resolve this either:
- crush your instant coffee granules in a pestle and mortar first so that they dissolve easier or
- add your coffee to a microwaveable dish, mix in your boiling water, and then pop into your microwave for 5-10 seconds, stir again once it comes out, it should then fully dissolve.
If you prefer to have pieces of walnut in your cake rather than grinding them, but want to prevent them sinking to the base, I recommend doing the following:
- chop your walnut pieces up small;
- place half of your coffee and walnut loaf cake batter into your loaf tin (without any walnut pieces);
- fold your chopped walnuts into the second half of your batter;
- spread your batter over the first half in the tin.
This coffee and walnut loaf cake keeps for 2-3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
Freeze before adding the buttercream topping.
Did you try this recipe?
Please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating in the Recipe Card below.
Walnuts are full of goodness. They are high in antioxidants, full of omega3 (good fat), full of vitamins, minerals and fibre and good for the gut.
If you like making loaf cakes, you may like to give to make these:
Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake
Here's what you'll need...
- 2 lb loaf tin measuring 23x13x7cm
- Cooling rack
- JEM 3R piping nozzle
Ingredients you'll need...
Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake
- 2 tablespoon Instant coffee
- 1 tbsp Boiling water
- 60 g Walnut halves (½ Cup)
- 225 g Unsalted butter at room temperature (1 Cup)
- 220 g Soft brown sugar (1 Cup packed)
- 250 g Self raising flour (1 Cup and 7 tablespoons) or use plain/all-purpose flour and an extra teaspoon of baking powder)
- ¼ teaspoon Fine salt
- 1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- 4 Large eggs at room temperature (US extra large)
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon Instant coffee powder
- 1 tablespoon Boiling water
- 150 g Unsalted butter at room temperature (⅖ Cup)
- 250 g Icing sugar confectioners' sugar (2 Cups)
- 25 g Walnut halves chopped into small pieces (¼ Cup)
- 10 Walnut halves
Here's what we do...
Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake
- Heat your oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/355°F/Gas Mark 4.
- Grease your loaf tin. Then take a piece of greaseproof (parchment) paper large enough to lay over the long sides and base of your tin (see the picture in main blog post) and place it in the tin.
- Mix your coffee and boiling water together until the coffee full dissolves (see Notes below).
- Place your walnuts in your food processor and blitz until they reach a sand-like consistency. Or grind in your pestle and mortar
- Sift together your flour, salt and cinnamon and set aside.
- Starting on a low setting, beat your room temperature butter and sugar together until soft, lighter in colour and paste-like. This may take up to 2 minutes.
- Add one egg and a dessertspoonful of your flour mixture and beat until all of the egg has combined, you need to ensure no egg remains before you add another.
- Repeat with your next egg and some flour and then so on until all of your eggs have been beaten in.
- Add your cooled coffee and vanilla extract and beat in.
- Add the rest of your flour mixture beating in on a low setting until just mixed in and then scraping down the sides and base of your bowl to ensure all of the mixture is incorporated.
- Beat on medium-high for about 10 seconds to ensure fully mixed.
- Fold in your ground walnuts.
- Pour into your prepared tin and level with your small palette knife or the back of a spoon.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with just a few fudgy bits of cake on.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before holding the sides of greaseproof and lifting the cake onto a cooling rack to fully cool.
Coffee Buttercream Frosting
- Again, dissolve your coffee powder in your boiling water and allow to cool until at room temperature.
- Sift your icing (confectioners') sugar and set aside.
- Give your softened butter a beat for about 10-15 seconds in your mixer, this will ensure your buttercream is soft and creamy.
- Leaving your mixer running on a low setting, gradually add your icing sugar a large spoonful at a time, letting each one beat in before adding another.
- Once all of your icing sugar has been mixed in, add your cooled coffee and beat until just mixed in, then scrape down the bowl with your spatula so that all of the mixture from the sides and base are mixed in.
- Beat one more time for a few seconds to ensure fully mixed.
- If using your piping bag, cut the corner off the bag and fit your round nozzle into it, ensuring the bag fits snuggly around it, so that the buttercream does not seep out. Then place in a large glass, fold over the sides and fill the bag with buttercream, using your small palette knife or butter knife.
- Roll the sides of the bag back up and tie off the top of the piping bag, or fold it over, so that buttercream does not seep out of the top as you ice.
- Starting at one of the shorter end of the top of the cake, begin icing by squeezing the buttercream in a line and then turning and piping another line in the opposite direction, so that an S pattern is formed (see picture in main blog post).
- Then take your small palette knife or butter knife and spread the buttercream out across the top of the cake, leaving the edges so that the semi-circle of icing remains (see blog post for picture).
- Sprinkle over your chopped walnuts and then place halves down the centre of the cake.