The BEST traditional Coffee and Walnut Cake made with a moist, light, coffee-intense gluten free sponge. Always a favourite tea-time treat or decadent celebration cake. Optional dairy free.
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Gluten free Coffee and Walnut Cake… for a chic tea time or decadent celebration
There’s something very special about Coffee and Walnut Cake… whether gluten free or not. Its familiarity places it in the bracket of a go-to coffee shop cake, but the specific marriage of earthy walnut with deep dark coffee make it very grown up and quite chic! For the Coeliacs amongst us, it’s an essential gluten free recipe in the cake-armoury.
The first time I made a gluten free version was when we celebrated Grandad’s birthday back in 2016. I always think birthdays are a great excuse for a bake-up. And coffee and walnut cake seemed a perfect alternative to the usual chocolate offering and a fitting tribute to reaching 80-something.
It went down extremely well… This cake is addictively delicious. With an amazing rich colour and heady coffee aroma, it screams to be eaten. And trust me, it doesn’t disappoint. The tantalising pleasure hits the taste-buds with each and every bite.
How to make sure yours is the BEST Coffee and Walnut Cake
Now… I’m going to claim to know a thing or two about coffee and walnut cake. Being upwards of half a century and having eaten this British favourite for most of that time, I think I can tell the good from the bad. But what makes the BEST Coffee and Walnut cake?
The Coffee… An essential ingredient to stand out from the crowd
Coffee and walnut cake should first and foremost be undeniably intense with coffee. A ‘hint’ of the stuff just doesn’t cut it. So what’s the best way to achieve the depth and concentration needed to make your cake stand out from the crowd?
Always use instant Espresso Powder. Seriously. The flavour is divinely vivid and distinctly superior to cakes made with bog-standard instant coffee powder or diluted cold coffee. I use Nescafe Azera Instant Coffee Powder because it’s strong, pungent, fine and dissolves easily. Perfect for baking.
It’s easy to find espresso powder in the supermarket, but be sure to buy the fine instant powder and not the granules or non-instant stuff. Grouts in your cake will ruin your efforts!
And make sure you use it in the frosting as well as the sponge… It makes all the difference. For an extra-amazing taste-buzz, you can even dust a little on the top of the finished cake!
The Walnuts… Perfect intensity with a bitter kick
Let’s be clear! This is not just coffee cake… It’s Coffee and Walnut Cake… So the walnuts are just as important as the coffee right? Which means squeezing every last shard of flavour from each and every nut.
The easiest way to do this is to toast them! Toasting your nuts will concentrate the flavour to give you twice as much tangy walnutty oomph. To get the best and freshest flavour, home-toast in the oven, being careful to turn and not burn, and use them without delay. We want them moist and succulent!
Grind them fresh to the consistency of coarse sand and they will give an even flavour and nutty texture which becomes an essential part of the sponge… adding walnut to the cake and moistness to the bake.
Okay…. I’m waxing a little lyrical now… I guess what I’m trying to say is the nuts matter!
Texture is everything! Coffee and Walnut Cake should be moist, soft, rich and never crumbly
When we make cakes at GFHQ, texture is everything. If the texture isn’t as good or better than glutenous equivalents, then it’s a fail. I get so frustrated when I see people accepting less just because they are Coeliac or gluten free. NEVER accept less. Never!
This de-glutened cake wins on texture as well as flavour. The concentration of home-toasted, tangy ground walnuts and the added splash of yoghurt give both the perfect moist crumb and structure. This is a coffee and walnut cake that would fool the hardiest of gluten-eaters.
This Recipe is a Keeper!
So… another resoundingly successful bake in the GF household. This recipe for gluten free Coffee and Walnut Cake is definitely a keeper. Once you have tried it, I am certain it will be one you make often. It’s so good, we now have a recipe for Coffee Walnut Cupcakes too.
The first time I made it back in 2016, my daughter was just 11. I was a little concerned she may baulk at the break from chocolate tradition for a birthday cake and complain about the move towards more mature and potentially less child-friendly constituents. I needn’t have worried. She took quite a liking to the dark stuff and was seriously rattled when a large section of it disappeared home with the grandparents at the end of the day.
Miss GF still has a liking for coffee. Interestingly, she blames it on that very cake. Maybe I should hang my parental head in shame…
Made gluten free Coffee and Walnut Cake?
I share this wonderful cake with my love. I hope you enjoy it every ounce as much as we do. If you make it, let me know! I would love to hear from you. There are lots of ways to get in touch. Comment below, send a Contact Form or find me at Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. And if you Love this recipe, don’t forget to star-rate!
Other Great Layer Cakes to Celebrate on Gluten Free Alchemist
- Orange Cake
- Chocolate Kiss Cake
- Victoria Sponge Cake
- Chocolate Fudge Cake
- Funfetti Cake
- Mocha Cake
- Layered Banoffee Cake
- Vanilla Cake
- Banana Layer Cake with Roasted Bananas and Chocolate
- Rich Mocha Easter Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Cake with Eton Mess Topping
- Chocolate Golden Egg Cake
- Coconut and Lime Cake with Lime Frosting
- Fudgy Chocolate Berry Cake with Ganache
- Or explore our Gluten Free Big Cakes Index!
For everything else, we now have an on-line Recipe Book to inspire you. Why not take a look?
Gluten Free Coffee and Walnut Cake
- two 20 cm/8 inch round cake tins
- grinder/food processor
- cake spatula
- 75 g walnut halves/pieces – toasted and ground toasted weight
- 200 g plain GF flour blend eg. Gluten Free Alchemist Mix A see NOTES
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 2½ tsp GF baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 225 g unsalted butter or dairy free alternative softened
- 225 g soft light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs (UK large)
- 4 to 5 tsp instant espresso coffee powder
- 4 to 5 tbsp plain yoghurt (dairy or dairy free)
Coffee Butter Icing/Frosting
- 1 tbsp instant espresso coffee powder
- 1 tbsp boiling water
- 220 g unsalted butter (or dairy free alternative) softened
- 440 g icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
- pinch fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp (approx) milk for consistency only DF if needed
- 12 halves walnuts – toasted – additional for decoration
- handful chocolate-espresso beans optional
- pinch instant espresso powder optional
- Toast all the walnuts (if not already toasted), including the halves reserved for decoration 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.
- Once cool, remove 12 good-shaped half walnuts and set aside for later decoration.
- 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)
- 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. TIP : weigh into an airtight container and shake vigorously to blend. Set aside.
- Base line two 20 cm/8 inch baking tins with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
- Break the eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat with a fork to combine. Gradually add to the butter mixture a little at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition.
- Add the espresso powder and yoghurt and beat again until even in colour.
- Carefully fold in the dry ingredients until evenly combined (but be careful not to over-mix).
- Split the cake batter equally between the two tins and spread to the edges, making sure the top is smooth and level.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden, the top springs back to the touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Slowly mix together the espresso powder and boiling water in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
- Beat the butter until soft and pale.
- Gradually add the icing sugar (a little at a time), espresso mixture and the salt. The frosting should be well blended and a smooth spreadable consistency. Add a little milk if the consistency needs to be loosened.
- Use some of the frosting to sandwich the sponges together and then spread the rest on the top and sides of the sandwiched cake as you wish. Smooth with a cake spatula.
- Decorate with the reserved toasted walnut halves, the chocolate-espresso beans and a light sprinkling of instant espresso powder.
- Store in an airtight cake tin/carrier at room temperature.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist