Sunday, 28 February 2016

Coffee & Walnut Cake - gluten free

There's something special about Coffee & Walnut Cake. Although its familiarity places it in the bracket of your average coffee shop cake, the specific marriage of earthy walnut with deep dark coffee make it very grown up and quite chic!

A couple of weeks back, we celebrated Grandad's birthday...... which of course, was another great excuse for a good bake-up. Wanting to make something other than chocolate cake, Coffee and Walnut seemed a perfect alternative and a fitting tribute to reaching 80-something.

It went down extremely well.....

This de-glutened version is a combination of a traditional Coffee and Walnut recipe base united with my continually-growing gluten free confidence and know-how...... Boy, has that combination worked well on this little bake!

Made with home-toasted, tangy ground walnuts which (with the addition of a dash of yoghurt) gave the sponge an additional moistness and enhanced its nuttiness, the required infusion of coffee gained extra intensity from the use of instant espresso powder. The flavour is divinely vivid and distinctly superior to cakes made with bog-standard instant coffee powder or diluted cold coffee.

If you are using espresso powder (and I thoroughly recommend it), be sure however to get the fine instant coffee powder and not the granules or non-instant stuff. Make sure you use it not only in the sponge, but in the frosting too...... and for an extra-amazing taste-buzz, dust a little on the top of the finished cake!

This cake is addictively lovely. It's amazing, rich colour and heady coffee aroma hints towards the pleasure hidden within each and every bite. I was a little concerned that Miss GF may baulk at the break from chocolate tradition for a birthday cake and complain about the move towards more mature and potentially non child-friendly constituents, but I needn't have worried. She seems to have taken quite a liking to the dark stuff recently and was quite rattled when she saw a large section of it disappear with Granny and Grandad when they went home at the end of the day.

So...... another resoundingly successful bake in the GF household.... and a recipe which is definitely going to be a keeper!

I am sending my Coffee & Walnut cake to the following linkies to help share it around a little more....

Bake of the Week with Casa Costello.

Free From Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse.

Cook Blog Share, this week with Sneaky Veg.

Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.

The #YumTum link-up with The Mummy Toolbox. This is my first join-up, but it looks like a great linky.... go check it out!

Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too.

Oh..... and before I finish with this post...... I have FINALLY linked the Gluten Free Alchemist blog to Facebook.... Yay! (she shouts with trepidation!)...... I have a weird and quite irrational fear of Facebook and (to be honest) feel like a seriously out of my depth novice in using it......

Having said this, I have decided it is important that I get my head round it, so any helpful advice on either its technicalities or the best way to use it as a blogger would be gratefully and attentively listened too.... I have (at least) managed to put a badge on my side-bar and got it to link to my GFA Facebook page...... Yep..... over there on the right hand side! Please come visit me and help me get found!

Coffee & Walnut Cake (makes 1 x 8 inch/20 cm sandwich cake)


75g walnut halves/pieces - toasted and ground (+ an additional 12 walnut halves - toasted (for decoration) (if you are toasting yourself, allow an extra few nuts to compensate for the weight lost through moisture loss when toasted)
200g plain GF flour blend (I used mix A from this post)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2½ teaspoons GF baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
225g unsalted butter - room temperature
225g soft light brown sugar
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
4 to 5 tablespoons plain yoghurt

Coffee Butter Frosting
180g unsalted butter - room temperature
450g icing sugar
pinch fine sea salt
3 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
approx 4 tablespoons double cream

To decorate :
(the reserved toasted walnuts)
chocolate-espresso beans - optional
an extra pinch of instant espresso powder - optional


  1. Toast all your walnuts (if not already toasted) by spreading on a baking sheet and placing in a pre-heated oven at 190 C/375 F/Gas 5 for about 10 minutes, turning a couple of times during the process to make sure they are evenly toasted. Leave to cool.
  2. Remove 12 good-shaped half walnuts and set aside for later decoration. 
  3. Grind the remaining walnuts in a grinder/food processor so that they have the texture of coarse sand (watch closely to make sure they do not grind too far and end up as a paste!)
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4. 
  5. Base line your baking tins with baking paper.
  6. Weigh and whisk together the ground walnuts (75g ground weight), flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt, making sure all lumps are broken down. Set aside.
  7. Cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
  8. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. 
  9. Add the espresso powder and yoghurt and beat again until even in colour.
  10. Fold in the dry ingredients until evenly combined (but be careful not to over-mix).
  11. Split the cake batter equally between the two tins and spread to the edges, making sure the top is smooth and level.
  12. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden, the top springs back to the touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  14. Whilst the sponge is cooling, make your butter frosting : Beat the butter to soften and then gradually add the icing sugar, salt, espresso powder and cream. The frosting should be well blended and a smooth spreadable consistency.
  15. Use some of the frosting to sandwich the sponges together and then use the rest to cover the sandwiched cake. Smooth with a cake spatula.
  16. Decorate with the reserved toasted walnut halves, the chocolate-espresso beans and a light sprinkling of instant espresso powder.
 Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013-16 unless otherwise indicated


  1. Looks great - I am always so satisfied when the layers of sponge are equal - yours is perfect!

    1. Ha ha....Thanks CC. Such a perfectionist! Pleased it meets your exacting standards.....

  2. If this is anywhere near as great as your chocolate cake, it will definitely be a keeper as well.

    1. Awww... thanks Dc. I am now wondering which one of my (many) chocolate cakes.....?
      If you like coffee and walnut cake, this one's definitely a keeper!

  3. wow this looks delicious! Coffee and walnut is my nans absolute favourite so I might have to do this for her birthday! Thanks so much for linking up to #YumTum this week and welcome :) as you are the last linker you might not get a second comment so I have stumbled your page as well :) hope to see you next week xx

    1. Thank you Charlotte. Sounds like a perfect birthday cake plan! Glad to have found the #YumTum linky x!

  4. Oh my gosh! Look at the rise on that! You are a gluten-free witch (in a good way...I say that because I have Harry Potter on in the background with a poorly Pickle at home for the day!). You seriously impress me with your bakes. Well done. And I'm heading to FB now to 'like' you and share this.x

    1. Ooohhhh.... a witch! Thanks Vicki! I'll take that as a compliment (of sorts)....
      A poorly pickle is not good...... I hope he feels better soon..... he's been out of sorts for a few days now!
      Thanks for the FB plug..... really appreciate it! xx

  5. The cake looks truly gorgeous and fit for a celebration. I am surprised your daughter enjoys coffee - it was never something for kids in my childhood but then again my parents were really into their tea when I was a kid. Nowadays my parents love their coffees too like a lot of people so I am sure this would be popular though I would have to give it a miss because coffee has never agreed with me.

    1. Thank you Johanna. I was very surprised when Miss GF decided she liked coffee too! I think the kids see it as a 'grown up' thing to drink. I was really reluctant to let her have it initially, but now we make sure she only has an occasional cup and early in the day!

  6. This looks delicious. I often choose coffee and walnut cake so that I don't have to share it with the kids! Thanks for linking up with #Cookblogshare this week

    1. Thanks Mandy... you're welcome.
      That's pretty sneaky...... But a great idea for keeping cake to yourself. x

  7. What a fantastic version of a classic favourite, it looks stunning!
    Thanks for submitting to Bake Of The Week, your recipe has been featured in the round up now live at 1st March Bake of the Week

    1. Thank you Sarah. It was as good as any gluten-based version I can remember!

  8. This looks so gorgeous, Kate. I love how you've decorated it - especially the bit about adding extra instant espresso powder on top - genius! Congratulations on joining the wonderful world of FB. I have liked you :-) I've been on FB as a normal person for years, but I'm still figuring out how to make my Easy Peasy Foodie Facebook page work. It seems much harder to get many likes/comments/shares there. Occasionally I can manage to get a nice little conversation going but it's rare. Will let you know if I discover the magic formula :-) Eb x

    1. Thank you Eb. The sprinkle of espresso powder on the top made a fab difference to the coffee-intensity!
      Thank you too for connecting with my FB page....It does seem to be a bit of a random forum from a blog-working perspective, but if you make any headway with it, do let me know what I am supposed to have a clue about! If I get any wisdom, I will be sure to share too...

  9. I must say when I go out for a cuppa my favourite cake is coffee and walnut. It is an amazing combination indeed and you have made it to perfection!!
    Perfectly risen and it looks lovely :-)

  10. I made half this the other day and it is lovely. Later in the day, I found the butter for it in the microwave where I had put it in there to soften slightly. Anyway, I also misread your method and did it by the 'all in one' method. Despite that and no butter, it was still fabulous!

    1. Fantastic DC. So pleased you enjoyed it and that it worked even with misreading. Fancy losing the butter in the microwave!
      Thanks for letting me know how you got on x

  11. This place is absolutely gorgeous, beautiful and stunning. Even though a few halls are equally appealing and fascinating in their decor, food and aesthetics, I'm tempted to still give this venue Houston a slight edge.


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