Nigella’s Moist English Coffee Cake with Walnuts: Made Gluten-free & Dairy-Free!
I’m not normally much of a coffee drinker, but the smooth taste of espresso with walnutty company, all wrapped up in velvet smooth buttercream.. well who can possibly resist!
Every Sunday my husband and I visit this cute little café just outside St. Albans, called The Saddlery Café. It rests in idyllic rural surroundings, and offers a tempting selection from an all-gluten-free menu. Cakes are handmade, and it both shows and tastes.
I love sharing a pot of tea in their courtyard, along with a sizable piece of cake. Each weekend I swear I’ll try another flavour, but the coffee cake keeps tempting me, and I end up with the same piece on every visit. It’s worth sacrificing all others for; it’s just that delicious!
I decided I should try my hand at it at home, although was sure to be setting myself up for a cake bingeing feast that has no end 🙂
You can make this cake decaf, but be warned; it doesn’t make it any less addictive!
I found Nigella’s recipe online and decided to give it a go. I was not at all disappointed; yum! The taste of coffee is not at all strong; just enough to get you hooked. Nigella doesn’t use the chocolate, but I think it adds a little something. I have tried the recipe dairy-free, which works well if you use hard fats (not spreadable) instead of butter.
My buttercream is quite dark because I used a bit more coffee (on request from hubby), so don’t panic if yours comes out a slightly different colour.
Give it ago; if you like the smell of fresh coffee at all, you’ll adore this luscious cake!
For the sponge
- 50 grams walnuts (no shell)
- 225 grams caster sugar
- 225 grams soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing) or dairy-free butter alternative (not spreadable)
- 200 grams all-purpose gluten-free flour (make your own gluten-free flour here!)
- 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (must be powder; not granules)
- 2 ½ teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 4 large organic pastured eggs OR egg replacer
- 1 – 2 tablespoons milk or dairy-free milk replacer
For the buttercream
- 350 grams icing sugar
- 175 grams soft unsalted butter or non-dairy butter alternative (not spreadable)
- 2 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder (dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water)
- approx. 10 walnut halves (to decorate)
- Grated dark chocolate (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F
- Butter two 20cm / 8inch round tins and line the base of each with baking paper
- Put the walnut pieces and sugar into a food processor and run on high until you’ve got a fine powder
- Add the 225g of butter, gluten-free flour, 4 teaspoons espresso powder, gluten-free baking powder, bicarb and pastured eggs, and process to a smooth batter
- Add the milk or dairy-free alternative, slowly, with the mixer still running. It should be quite a wet mix, almost the thickness of yoghurt, so add more milk if you need to
- Divide the mixture between the 2 lined tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean
- Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, before turning them out onto the rack and peeling off the baking parchment
- Make the buttercream whilst the cakes are cooling, and make sure the bases are completely cool before you frost them, or the buttercream will melt!
- Pulse the icing sugar in the food processor until it is lump free, then add the butter and process to make a smooth icing
- Dissolve the instant espresso powder in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add it while still hot
- Place 1 sponge upside down on your cake stand or serving plate
- Spread with about half the icing; then place on it the second sponge, right side up, before you frost the cake with the remainder of the buttercream
- Decorate with walnut halves and grated dark chocolate!
Tip: You can stir chocolate through the buttercream for an extra chocolatey taste!
This cake is supposed to have a rustic look, so not to worry about buttercream getting squeezed out from the middle layer, or a bit of a rough finish. That’s just perfect!