Coffee & walnut cake

Some recipes are so classic, there's no need to mess around with them – and that includes this classic coffee and walnut cake. It's for the purists among you.

It has a light sponge with a little crunch from the walnuts, and the fluffiest buttercream frosting with a good hit of coffee. And it's super-easy to make, too – no culinary skills are needed.

I haven't yet tested this recipe with gluten-free flour, but there's no reason why it shouldn‘t work with your favourite 1:1 blend. Either way, although this cake is best enjoyed in the first 24 hours after baking, it will keep in a cake tin for 2-3 days.



Wet ingredients

2 cups oat milk, or plant-based alternative

1 cup groundnut or melted coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

2 heaped tbsp coffee granules, mixed with 3 tbsp hot water

Dry ingredients

4 cups plain flour

1½ tbsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 cup caster sugar

Good pinch of salt

120g lighted toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

For the frosting

500g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or half the seeds from a vanilla pod

140g plant-based butter, softened

2 tbsp coffee granules, mixed with 2 tbsp hot water.

½ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4. Grease two 20cm cake tins, and line the bottoms with circles of greaseproof paper.
  2. Add all the wet ingredients to a medium-sized bowl, and stir to combine.
  3. Add all the dry ingredients apart from the chopped walnuts to a large bowl, and stir to combine.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined – don't beat or over-work the batter. A few lumps are fine. Finally, fold in the chopped walnuts.
  5. Pour the batter into the two pre-prepared tins as evenly as you can. Bake for 30 mins, then test with a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cakes are ready – if not, give them another 5 mins and test again.
  6. While the cakes are baking, make your frosting. Using a mixer or hand whisk, beat all the frosting ingredients apart from the walnuts together, until light and fluffy. Be careful not to over-whisk, as the mixture could split.
  7. When the cakes are ready, allow them to cool in their tins for 10 mins before turning them onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  8. Once cooled, place one cake upside-down on your serving plate, and spread over half the frosting. Place the remaining cake the right way up on top, and spread with the remaining frosting.
  9. Finish by scattering the chopped walnuts across the top of the cake.

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