This easy coffee and walnut cake with cardamom takes a classic cake combo to a new and super tasty level with the addition of cardamom spice. It’s rich and moist and just packed with flavour. You’ll never look at straight coffee cake the same way again.
Good old coffee and walnut cake has always been a favourite in our house. When Idgy was little we used to call it bear nut cake, can’t remember why. Maybe we served it at one of her teddy bear picnics or something. Anyway the classic combo of coffee and walnut is still right up there as my favourite cake.
So how to improve on it? Add something to the mix. Get spicy with cardamom.
The idea for this cake came from middle eastern flavours. You get cardamom coffee in Turkey and walnuts are found in so many recipes around the Mediterranean and Middle East. All three together in cake form seemed like a natural thing to do. I love playing with ingredients in all types of recipes.
Coming up with a good way to make this coffee and walnut cake with cardamom come together was a lot of fun. And I have to say that the tasting of this one went down a treat with everyone.
Is this coffee cake easy to make?
Oh yes, it is. I’ve used my simple sponge cake base and flavoured it with coffee and cardamom. I’ve added in toasted crushed walnuts to the batter for taste and texture.
This is like a lemon drizzle cake really, the extra punch of flavour coming from the secret sauce. Or should I say it’s the amazing coffee and cardamom syrup drizzled over the cake sponges that makes the baking magic happen on this coffee cake.
This syrup is so rich and flavourful. It’s like the deepest, darkest, sweetest Turkish coffee you can imagine.
What are the ingredients for this coffee and walnut cake
I made a seriously strong pot of coffee to make the syrup for this cake and also to add to the cake batter itself. If you haven’t got ground coffee use instant but really make it strong. You need to bang in that flavour to make this coffee cake sing.
I used my homemade Kahlua coffee liqueur as well, though adding coffee liqueur is optional. But boy does it add extra coffee kick and flavour to the cake.
I used green cardamom pods and just cracked open the shells in my mini pestle and mortar and then ground the seeds down to a powder. This is a really satisfying pursuit if you think of someone/something you don’t like and just hammer away at those spices!
What size baking tins
Yes folks I’ve done it again and used my favourite 15cm loose-based baking tins. Bought from Waitrose they are the best cake tins I have at the moment. And no, I am not connected to that shop in any way, I just like these tins and people keep asking where I got them.
If you use standard 18cm tins you will get a much flatter result from this 2 egg recipe. You would be better doubling my quantities and making two 18cm cakes that would serve about 10 slices.
My little cakes give 6 big slices which is perfect for the three of us. They could actually serve 8 normal slices but then why eat less cake.
How do you make this coffee and walnut cake
Start off by toasting the crushed walnuts in a dry pan for just about a minute till golden and aromatic. It is crucial that you don’t let them catch and burn as they are totally useless then and taste hellish.
Tip them out of the hot pan immediately on to a saucer to stop them cooking. You’ll be using most of them in your cake batter and reserving some to decorate along with a few walnut halves.
Get cracking on crushing all your cardamom pods now too. The fiddliest bit of this job is removing the bits of shell. But really that’s the biggest effort in making this whole cake. Hardly much of a challenge.
Now on with making the basic sponge mix and adding in the all-important coffee and toasted walnuts to the batter along with the ground cardamom. This cake batter smells amazing with the spiciness of the cardamom, the richness of that aromatic coffee and the warm toasty walnuts.
Make the coffee syrup
While the cake is baking make your coffee and cardamom syrup. This is really easy. You are just going to boil up some strong coffee, more crushed cardamom seeds and sugar. You want this syrup thick and fragrant.
Honestly folks, this is one cake that makes your whole house smell fantastically fragrant and quite honestly should be what you bake if you are trying to sell your house and want that home baking and coffee smell.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the syrup. Once it has thickened up take it off the heat, add coffee liqueur if using. Strain through a plastic sieve to get rid of the seedy bits and bobs and allow it to cool.
Once the cakes are out of the oven and have cooled down you can pierce them all over with a cocktail stick and drizzle over that wonderful coffee and cardamom syrup. This will seep into the cake sponges filling them with flavour and adding an extra dimension of moistness to the finished cake.
How to do the buttercream frosting
Oh yes, yet more coffee and cardamom in here. Make a basic buttercream frosting and add in 4 tablespoons of strong coffee and 1 tablespoon of the coffee and cardamom syrup.
I always like to put the icing/frosting on the top and bottom of my cake before I put them together. If you just put your buttercream on the bottom sponge and then plonk the other one on top and start to smooth out the buttercream frosting on that, you run the risk of squashing down the cake and causing all the filling to flatten and squish out all round.
Once I’ve put the top cake in place I run a palette knife with some frosting on it around the cake to finish it off.
I don’t like the heavy full-on frosting on many cakes. I think there is enough of this coffee and cardamom frosting inside and on the top. Slathering it all round would just be overkill. Don’t gild the lily, simply skim it!
Decorating this cake
Finish off the buttercream frosting by swirling it about a bit on the top. Then sprinkle with the remaining toasty crushed walnuts and pop a couple of walnut halves in the centre of the cake.
Now comes the fun bit. Use the remaining coffee syrup to drizzle all over the top of the cake so that it goes into the swirls you made in the frosting and runs down the sides here and there.
Oh this bit is so satisfying. It brings the whole cake together effortlessly.
How to serve this cake
Serve this coffee and walnut cake just as it is. It requires nothing else. Maybe a cup of really good coffee for yet more of a caffeine hit. Or possibly a coffee liqueur.
Actually, someone suggested adding coffee liqueur instead of the syrup. You could do that if you wish but you wouldn’t get the rich depth of flavour that we have here. Maybe just chuck some coffee liqueur into the mix instead if you like. But quite honestly I didn’t think it needed any booze.
How long will this coffee cake keep
This coffee and walnut cake will keep for up to 4 or 5 days. Because it has that coffee and cardamom syrup inside the sponge it will keep moist and thus last longer than a dry sponge cake would.
Can you freeze this cake
Yes, but only the sponge bases before the addition of syrup. Wrap well in cling film and pop into freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Maybe make up the syrup and put that in a separate little bag inside one of the cake bags. That way you are good to go on the cake building front as soon as everything has defrosted.
Looking for more cake inspiration? Then check out these fabulous bakes;
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Easy coffee and walnut cake with cardamom
- 2 x 15cm round baking tins (double the recipe if using bigger tins)
- 35 g walnuts roughly ground in food processor
- 125 g unsalted butter
- 125 g caster sugar
- 2 medium free range eggs
- 10 green cardamom pods, opened and seeds ground to powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp very strong coffee
- 125 g self raising flour
Coffee and Cardamom syrup
- 75 ml very strong coffee
- 75 g caster sugar
- 10 green cardamom pods shelled and seeds crushed to powder
- 1 tbsp homemade Kahlua coffee liqueur (optional)
Coffee and cardamom buttercream frosting
- 150 g unsalted butter
- 200 g icing sugar
- 4 tbsp very strong coffee
- 1 tbsp coffee and cardamom syrup (see above)
- Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line both 15cm baking tins
- Toast the crushed walnuts in a dry pan for approx 1 minute till golden and aromatic, tip on to a saucer
- beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy and totally combined
- add the eggs one at a time stirring them into the batter
- add all other ingredients (including most of the walnuts) and stir well to combine
- spoon batter into prepared tins and bake for approx 25 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean from the centre of the cake and it bounces back when lightly pressed
- allow cake to cool for 5 minutes before removing from tins and cooling completely on wire rack
Making the syrup
- While cake is baking heat all the syrup ingredients in a small pan
- bring to the boil and then let it bubble till it thickens up to a syrup, about 5 minutes, remove from heat
- Add the coffee liqueur and stir through
- Strain the syrup through a plastic sieve to remove any seedy bits and bobs and allow to cool
- Pierce both cakes all over with cocktail stick and drizzle over about half of the syrup
Making the frosting
- beat together the butter and icing sugar and add in the coffee and the syrup to the mix
Assembling the cake
- slather buttercream on the cake base and also on the top cake, then place the top cake on top of the bottom one, lightly skim round the sides of the cake with a palate knife and a little buttercream, you only want a light coating here
- Sprinkle remaining crushed walnuts on top of cake and place a couple of walnut halves in the centre, finally drizzle over the remainder of the syrup so that it runs down the sides of the cake here and there