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Coffee Walnut Cake Recipe & Video

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In North America, a Coffee Cake is defined as a chemical or yeast leavened, sweet and rich cake-like bread. It is oftentimes topped with a streusel mixture. No mention is made of it actually containing coffee. So when I found this recipe for a Coffee Walnut Cake that actually contained coffee, I just had to make it. This cake is popular in England and it's not hard to see why. It is a rich butter cake flavored with espresso (or coffee) and chopped walnuts. The cake is sandwiched together and frosted with a delicious whipped mixture of espresso (or coffee), mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, and heavy cream.  

This cake is very similar to a pound cake. The original instructions for making a Coffee Walnut Cake were very easy to remember. It went like this: Weigh your eggs in the shell. Whatever their weight, use an equal weight of butter, sugar, and self rising flour. For this recipe I have adjusted the ingredients slightly, and I also added some milk. For the coffee flavor, you can use either instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules or powder.

The Coffee Frosting on this cake is delicious. It contains mascarpone cheese (pronounced mas-kahr-POH-nay) which is a thick, buttery-rich, delicately sweet and velvety, ivory-colored cheese. It's often sold in plastic 8-ounce (225 gram) tubs which can be found in the deli section of your local grocery store or in specialty food stores. However, if you cannot find Mascarpone, or it is way too expensive, a good substitute would be an equal amount of regular cream cheese.

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Coffee Walnut Cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, two - 8 inch (20 cm) round cake pans with 2 inch (5 cm) sides. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk or sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In the bowl of your electric stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture (in three additions) alternately with the milk and coffee (in two additions), starting and ending with the flour. Mix only until combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans (about 445 grams in each pan) and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool (in their pans) for about 10 minutes. Then, one cake at a time, place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Remove the parchment paper and then, to prevent cracks, re-invert the cakes onto a wire rack so that the tops are right side up. Cool completely before frosting.

Coffee Frosting: In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the mascarpone until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and coffee mixture and beat until smooth and well blended. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl. Add the cold whipping cream and, using the whisk attachment, beat the frosting until medium soft peaks form (frosting should be of spreading consistency). Do not over beat or the frosting will curdle.

Assemble: First remove about 1/2 cup (120 ml/grams) of the frosting and place in a piping bag fitted with a star tip (I used a Wilton 1M). Then place one cake layer, top of the cake facing down, onto your serving plate. Spread with half the frosting. Place the second cake layer on top of the frosting, top of the cake facing down, and cover the top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Then pipe swirls of frosting on the top of the cake. Place a walnut on each swirl of frosting.

Makes about 10-12 servings.

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Coffee Walnut Cake:

1 3/4 cups (225 grams) all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon (6 grams) baking powder

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt

3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 cup (100 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs (165 grams in the shells), at room temperature

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup (80 ml/grams) whole (full fat) milk, at room temperature

1 1/2 tablespoons (6 grams) instant espresso powder (or instant coffee) dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water

1/2 cup (55 grams) coarsely chopped walnuts

Coffee Frosting:

4 ounces (115 grams) mascarpone cheese (can substitute with regular cream cheese)

1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons (2 grams) instant espresso powder (or instant coffee) dissolved in 1 teaspoon boiling water

3/4 cup (180 ml/grams) cold heavy whipping cream (cream with 35-40% butterfat content)

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