Classic Coffee and Walnut Cake

Coffee and walnut cake

Welcome to Jessie Bakes Classic Cakes Part 2

This is the second recipe in my new baking series: Jessie Bakes Classic Cakes. Simple, timeless, comforting cake recipes that ANYONE can easily make time and time again.

In case you missed it, a few weeks ago I shared the all-time British favourite Victoria sponge cake and for my second recipe, I decided to share this delicious coffee and walnut cake with you.

I attempted to research the origins of coffee and walnut cake, but strangely couldn’t find much online. So to whoever invented it, I salute you 🥳

What I did discover however is that a classic “coffee cake” recipe will vary depending on where you’re from. This recipe is a British “coffee cake”; two coffee sponge layers sandwiched with coffee buttercream and decorated with walnuts. Whereas, a German or Amercian “coffee cake” has a cinnamon crumble topping and actually contains no coffee at all 🤔 it’s instead served with a coffee on the side.

This Coffee and Walnut Cake is:

  • Flavoured with freshly brewed coffee
  • Filled with chopped walnuts
  • Sandwiched together with coffee buttercream
  • Decorated in a simple way with walnut halves
  • Homely and comforting to make and eat
Coffee and walnut cake

Ingredients & alternatives

You will need 8 simple, everyday ingredients to make this coffee and walnut cake:

  • Coffee – you can use either freshly ground or instant coffee.
  • Walnuts – chopped walnuts are added to the sponge and walnut halves are used to decorate the top of the cake.
  • Margarine or butter – I prefer to use Stork Original margarine instead of butter. It makes the sponge light and fluffy, and helps the cake layers rise with a flat top.
  • Golden caster sugar – you can use either white or golden caster sugar for this recipe.
  • Self-raising flour – the raising agent in self-raising flour will help the cake layers rise. You can instead use 300g plain flour + 1.5 teaspoons baking powder.
  • Eggs – you’ll need 3 large room temperature eggs for this cake, or you can use 4 medium eggs.
  • Salted butter – it may sound strange, but using salted butter for buttercream helps to balance the sweetness. Just trust me on this 😊
  • Icing Sugar – to get a super smooth buttercream, sieve the icing sugar before adding it.

Wondering if you can use an alternative ingredient? Leave a comment at the bottom of this recipe, and I’ll reply to you ASAP!

Coffee cake ingredients

Recipe troubleshooting

Below I’ve answered the most common questions you might stumble across with this recipe.

Got a different question? Leave a comment at the bottom of this recipe, and I’ll reply to you ASAP!

What size cake tin should I use?

This recipe uses 2 x 20cm (8inch) round cake tins. Here is a link to the exact tins I used from Lakeland. Make sure your baking tins aren’t too shallow because the cakes will rise, the tins I used were 8cm in height.

Can I use a different sized baking tin?

Yes absolutely! Here’s how to adjust the baking time:

  • 15cm (6inch) round tin = plus 5-10 minutes. Check on the cake after 5 minutes.
  • 23cm (9inch) round tin = minus 5-10 minutes. Check on the cake after 5 minutes.
  • 20x20cm square tin = minus 5-10 minutes. Check on the cake after 5 minutes.
  • Cupcakes = the recipe will make roughly 18 cupcakes. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 180°C.
Can I use gluten-free flour?

Yes you can! Just sub the 300g self-raising flour for 300g gluten-free flour + 1.5 teaspoons of xanthan gum (this will improve the texture of the cake) + 1 teaspoon baking powder.

My cake sunk in the middle, what happened?

Urggh, this can be so annoying! There are three main reasons this could have happened:

  1. The oven was too hot which caused the cake to rise too quickly
  2. You opened the oven door too early and caused a sudden change in temperature
  3. The cake wasn’t fully baked before it was taken out of the oven

But don’t worry, there is a way you can rescue your cake. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out of the middle of the cake layers, and then sandwich them together with coffee buttercream. It’s basically a coffee bundt cake 😅

Do I need to cool the coffee before adding it?

Yes. Particularly for the buttercream otherwise it will melt the butter. Just brew the coffee beforehand and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Coffee and walnut cake

Tips for making the coffee buttercream

Here are a few tips and tricks that will make your buttercream super smooth and creamy:

  1. Beat the butter on its own first, until it’s really soft and pale in colour.
  2. Sift in the icing sugar so that it’s really fine and free of lumps.
  3. Make sure the coffee has cooled to room temperature before mixing it into the buttercream.
  4. At the end, swap your mixer for a flat spatula. Use it to smooth the buttercream against the side of the bowl. This will help knock out any air bubbles and make the buttercream smoother.

Ways to upgrade this Coffee and walnut cake

This coffee and walnut cake is delicious as it is, but here are a few ways you could upgrade the recipe:

  1. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon spice to the sponge
  2. Swap 50g flour with 50g cocoa powder to make a mocha cake
  3. Add a tablespoon of hazelnut or caramel coffee syrup to the buttercream

Equipment & ingredients used for this recipe

Coffee and walnut cake

Coffee and Walnut Cake

Flavoured with freshly brewed coffee and filled with chopped walnuts, this delicious coffee and walnut cake is an all-time classic and couldn't be easier to make!
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Baking
Servings 10


Sponge layers

  • 300 g Margarine or unsalted butter If you're using Stork, use it cold straight from the fridge. If you're using butter, then make sure it's at room temperature.
  • 300 g Golden caster sugar
  • 3 large Eggs at room temperature
  • 300 g Self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp Coffee, dissolved in 3 tbsp hot water Cooled to room temperature
  • 100 g Chopped walnuts

Coffee buttercream

  • 250 g Salted butter soft at room temperature
  • 500 g Icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp Coffee, dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water Cooled to room temperature


  • 10 Walnut halves to decorate


Make the coffee sponge layers

  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Lightly grease two 8inch round cake tins with butter and line the base with greaseproof paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the margarine and golden caster sugar until creamy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
  • Gently fold in the flour until the cake mixture is smooth.
  • Now mix in the cooled coffee.
  • Fold through the chopped walnuts.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes until risen, golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the baking tin, before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely.

Make the coffee buttercream

  • Beat the salted butter until really soft and pale in colour.
  • Sift the icing sugar into the bowl and beat until smooth.
  • Add the cooled coffee and fold together until smooth.

Assemble the cake

  • Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand or plate. If the cake has domed on top, use a sharp knife to trim off the top and make the cake flat.
  • Spread half the buttercream on top, taking it to the edge of the cake.
  • Place the second cake on top and lightly press down to sandwich the layers together.
  • Spread the remaining buttercream on top.
  • Decorate the edge of the cake with walnut halves.


Your coffee and walnut cake will stay fresh for up to 3 days in an airtight container. 
Keyword buttercream, Coffee, Eggs, Flour, Golden caster sugar, Walnuts

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4.2 19 votes
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Marie allen
Marie allen
14 days ago

Hi Jessie, made your lovely coffee& walnut cake today, it was absolutely perfect 👍 light & fluffy too , will do this cake again, thank you , kind regards

2 months ago

5 stars
Great recipe, easy to do. Used Camp coffee as we like the taste in cakes. Would definitely do again and can’t wait to try out your other recipes.

2 months ago

Can I freeze this cake?

4 months ago

Hi Jessie, do I need to change the ingredient quantities if I’m baking in two 9 inch cake tins? Thanks!

4 months ago

5 stars
Hi there. How do I adjust the recipe for a 10” coffee and walnut?

Love your site.
Maria x

5 months ago

Hi there. Am looking forward to baking this cake. However, can I use campo coffee and chicory essence instead instead of the coffee / water combo? Also, I am new to baking and through trial and error have found that my sponge cakes have a perfect rise and moist texture when baked with 6 medium eggs and 300g of everything else (5 large eggs and 300g of everything else always ends up in a dipped center), which leads me to ask what impact there is on the sponge texture by using 3 large eggs to 300g of everything else. Have I missed a trick somewhere? Thank you in advance for your response

F stone
F stone
9 months ago

5 stars

1 year ago

Hi Jessie – is the oven temperature for fan ovens? X

1 year ago
Reply to  Jessie

Thank you!!

1 year ago
Reply to  Jessie

Thank you – this cake turned out amazingly! Best coffee and walnut recipe I’ve tried!

1 year ago

5 stars
Very easy recipe to follow. Unfortunately my buttercream went a bit bitty when I put the coffee in. I used Stock coz I forgot to buy salted butter 🤦🏻‍♀️ That was probably the reason? 😆

Simon Rous
Simon Rous
1 year ago

Since from the intro we are using real coffee cooled down, I don’t understand the ingredient ”2 tbsp Coffee, “dissolved” in 3 tbsp hot water Cooled to room temperature”. Surely the real coffee is already liquid and does not need to dissolved. Or do you mean diluted but wouldn’t that make the coffee flavour too weak? Will I be ok with 5 TBSP of real coffee cooled? Sorry to be so thick!

Laura Ellerby
Laura Ellerby
7 months ago
Reply to  Jessie

It should be how many tbsp of liquid coffee? Sorry I think the number is missing above… We use a percolator to make our coffee and haven’t measured the amount of ground coffee beans in tbsp!


[…] case you missed the first two recipes, here’s a link to my Classic Victoria Sponge Cake and Classic Coffee Cake. Both equally […]

2 years ago

5 stars
The cake turned out great and tasted great but mine was a bit crumbly, do you have any idea why?

2 years ago

5 stars
Absolutely loved this coffee cake and the recipe was so easy to follow

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