Espresso and walnut cake

Espresso and walnut cake from The Flexible Baker

There is something about these two flavours that work so well together.
However, they can often be a little bland, so here I’ve made them both really shout out. Strong espresso coffee is in both the cake and the cream cheese frosting. As for the walnuts, they are blitzed into the cake batter, which also contains some walnut oil. Then the walnuts on top are made extra special by caramelising in sugar.

Makes 1 cake


For the cake
300g soft light brown sugar
75g walnut pieces
325g cups plain (all-purpose)flour
1tsp baking powder
1½tsp bicarbonate of (baking) soda
2 eggs
225ml soured cream
100ml walnut oil
4tbsp instant espresso powder, dissolved in 175ml hot water
½tsp ground cinnamon
½tsp fine sea salt

For the frosting
75g butter, softened
125g cream cheese
300g icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
½tsp ground cinnamon
1tbsp instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1tbsp hot water

To decorate
75g caster (superfine) sugar
75g walnut pieces


Heat the oven to 180°C. Oil and line two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment.

To make the cake, put the sugar and walnuts in a food processor and blitz to finely chop the walnuts. Add all of the remaining cake ingredients, and blitz well to give you a smooth, loose batter.

Divide the cake mix between the two tins.

Bake for 25–30 minutes until the cakes are risen and springy to touch and start to come away from the sides of the tins.

Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.

Beat the butter in an electric mixer until smooth. Add the cream cheese, beating for about a minute until smooth. Reduce the speed to low, then add the icing sugar, cinnamon and espresso. Beat until you have a smooth and creamy texture.

Spread half of the frosting on top of one of the cakes and sandwich the other on top. Spread the remaining frosting on top.

To prepare the decoration, line a baking tray with baking parchment. Put the sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat and leave until the sugar is melted and deep golden, swirling the pan a couple of times for even colour.

Don’t leave the pan unattended, as it can burn very quickly. Immediately tip the walnuts into the pan, stir to coat in the caramel and tip onto the prepared tray, flattening into a single layer with the spoon. The nuts will become cold and crunchy. You can either leave them in large pieces to decorate the top of the cake, or crush them into smaller pieces with a rolling pin and sprinkle over the cake.


Gluten-free: a gluten-free flour blend will work very well in this cake.

Flavour swap: to make a mocha and pecan cake, replace 60g of the flour with 60g cocoa powder and use pecan nuts instead of walnuts in both the cake and the decoration.
Replace the walnut oil with sunflower oil.

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