Dairy Free Coffee and Walnut Cake

Last week it was my boyfriend’s flatmate’s birthday, and his favourite cake is Coffee and Walnut cake. I really like making big layered cakes, and they’re actually a bit easier than cupcakes. This is another cake that you can just put it all in the mixer and leave it to it. I’ve previously posted about pound cakes, and this is based on the same principles. You just weigh your eggs, and measure out all the other ingredients to the same weight as the eggs. Simple! As a general guide, a 4 egg mix takes about 225g of each, and a 5 egg mix takes about 300g of each. I decided to go for a 5 egg mix, just because I’m greedy and I like big cakes.

I had some issues with the frosting though. I don’t think it’s as simple as substituting dairy free spread for the butter…. The mixture goes quite spongy, rather than fluffy like normal frosting. It also really didn’t like the coffee being added. The recipe I found called for 50ml of espresso, but the mix really couldn’t take all of that liquid, so I used about a teaspoon of very, very strong instant espresso.

Still, I had a minor disaster when I got to my boyfriend’s flat and took the cake out of the tin, the frosting had split and curdled in the middle of the cake. My boyfriend helpfully described it as “it looks like the two sponges have vomited”. It didn’t look very good. I think this might have been because the sponges were still a tiny bit warm when I frosted them, and the frosting just really wasn’t quite right. I deconstructed the cake, re mixed the frosting and put it back together as best I could. It looked a bit messy, but still tasted really good. The sponge especially was super moist. Just more work needed on the frosting!

Ingredients, Serves 10 – 12
5 large eggs, weighed and all other measurements the same, roughly:
300g self raising flour
300g caster sugar
300g dairy free spread (Pure or similar)
½ tsp baking powder
50ml espresso, cooled
75g walnuts, chopped
For the frosting, makes enough to cover the top and middle of the cake
250g dairy free spread (not Vitalite as it has too much salt in it for frosting)
400g icing sugar
2 tsp very strong instant espresso, or more if you’d like it stronger!

Preheat the oven to 160°C for a fan oven, 180°C  for a conventional oven. Grease two 18cm sandwich tins, and line the bottoms.

Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder in the electric mixer with K attachment, and mix until smooth. Scrape down any mixture from the sides, add the cooled coffee and beat again briefly.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the walnuts. Spread the mix into the prepared tins and flatten the top with a palette knife. Bake for 40 minutes until just coming away from the edges of the tin. A skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean.

Leave to cool slightly in the tins before turning them out onto a wire rack. They will sink in the middle, this is normal and actually beneficial as you want a flat top to sandwich them together.

For the frosting, beat the spread and the icing sugar together with a handheld electric mixer until just combined. Add the espresso and beat until smooth. (Hopefully it won’t look like it’s splitting like mine did!)

Once the cakes have completely cooled, level of the top of one of them with a bread knife. Cover the top of this cake with half of the frosting. Place the other cake on top and cover the top of that with the rest of the frosting.

I then attempted to pipe some glace icing on top of the cake to write “Happy Birthday”. Considering this was my first attempt and piping writing, I was quite pleased. I mixed up the glace icing (just icing sugar and water) and added red, blue and yellow food colouring to get it brown. I just used a normal disposable piping bag, cut it down so it was small, filled it with icing and snipped a tiny bit off the end, to make a small hole. I sketched the writing with a cocktail stick first, then piped over that!

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