A homely Coffee and Walnut Cake with a luscious coffee frosting that is delicious and easy to make. Recipe with step-by-step photos.
In some countries, there exists what is called a coffee cake which actually does not contain any coffee but it is called such because it is intended to be eaten with a cup of coffee.
This Coffee and Walnut Cake is actually a coffee cake, in that it is heady with coffee flavour in both the sponge and frosting, thanks to a touch of instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder.
Coffee and Walnut Cake
Coffee and Walnut Cake is a familiar sight from my childhood, it being a regular feature in my parents’ bakery. Despite its familiarity and, hence, nostalgic memory, I must confess that coffee-flavoured cakes were not my favourite as a child.
In fact, I’m not sure I even liked drinking coffee until well into my late twenties. Up until then, it was more a case of having coffee with my milk than it being the other way around.
These days, I will happily knock back a strong espresso after a meal without even a flinch.
Coffee and Walnut Cake Recipe
For me, what is unusual about this recipe is that the walnut component is not simply for decoration; a good quantity of walnuts is ground into a fine powder for use in the sponge, thereby lending the cake a tender and moist texture.
Unlike most coffee cake recipes, I suppose, this Coffee and Walnut Cake recipe uses instant espresso powder instead of the more subtle and plain instant coffee.
Fearing that the coffee flavour would be too strong, and bearing in mind that my children eat everything that I bake, I used instant coffee powder instead for just that hint of coffee taste. Both of my children loved this cake, perhaps a by-product of drinking the foam from my cappuccinos …
This is a really lovely Coffee and Walnut Cake, both to look at and to eat. Next time around, I think I will up the coffee flavour and use instant espresso powder as per the original recipe. You may as well go all the way!
So if you prefer a stronger coffee-flavoured cake, I would suggest using instant espresso powder. But for a cake with a mild coffee flavour, I think any mainstream instant coffee powder should be fine.
And just in case you were wondering, yes, we keep instant coffee powder in our home! My husband has a soft spot for it, and when he can’t be bothered to pop a coffee pod into our coffee machine (yes, there are those days!), he will go the instant coffee route. The rest of the time, I use instant coffee in baking, like in this Ultimate Chocolate Cake.
How to Make Coffee and Walnut Cake
What I love about this Coffee and Walnut Cake recipe is that everything is done in the food processor.
You start by blitzing the walnuts and sugar into a fine powder, before adding the rest of the ingredients. So simple!
For a printable recipe, please scroll down.
More Walnut Recipes
If you are looking for walnut recipes, you might also like:
Coffee and Walnut Cake
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: Makes 8-12 slices 1x
- Category: Cakes, Baking
- Cuisine: Australian
For the cake
- 2–4 teaspoons instant coffee or instant espresso powder
- 1 tablespoon boiling water
- 50 g (2 oz) walnuts
- 225 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 225 g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 200 g (1 1/3 cup) plain flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 eggs
- 1–2 tablespoons milk
For the frosting
For the cake
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (without fan).
- Grease and line the base of two 20 cm (8 inch) cake tins.
- Dissolve the instant coffee powder in the boiling water. If you want a strongly coffee-flavoured cake, I suggest using 4 teaspoons.
- Place the walnuts and caster sugar into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until you have a fine powder.
- Add the butter, flour, coffee mixture, baking powder, baking soda, and eggs.
- Blitz again until you have a smooth batter.
- With the motor still running, pour a little bit of milk down the funnel until the batter is a soft, spreadable consistency.
- Divide the batter between both cake tins.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cakes are lightly golden and a cake skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes in their tin on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove the cake tins and baking paper from the cake.
- Leave the cakes to cool completely.
For the frosting
- Dissolve the instant espresso powder in the boiling water
- Using a stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment, beat together the icing sugar, butter and coffee mixture until you have a thick and spreadable frosting.
To assemble the cake
- Place one sponge upside down on a plate or cake platter.
- Spread half of the frosting onto the sponge and spread it evenly.
- Place the second sponge on top.
- Cover the top sponge with the remaining frosting.
- Decorate the cake with walnut halves.
This cake keeps well on a covered cake stand for several days at room temperature.
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.
- Serving Size: Per slice
- Calories: 515
- Sugar: 43g
- Sodium: 139.3mg
- Fat: 28.8g
- Carbohydrates: 61.8g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 4.5g
- Cholesterol: 100.5mg
This recipe was first published on 21 June 2013. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.