Saturday, August 27, 2016

espresso & walnut loaf

Work is just too busy at the moment. It got me thinking of my first job back in Edinburgh. Worked 9.30am-5pm (I think?) with both a morning and afternoon tea break and one and a half hours for lunch. One and a half hours for lunch! It was so long that I sometimes used to hop on a bus a couple of stops into Princes Street and go clothes shopping. Other times I could be found among the journos supping at the wee pub right opposite the handy side exit. What a cruisy time. I must have spent more time on breaks than actual work.

This cake is also a flashback to Edinburgh. As a child, I discovered the indubitable marriage of coffee and walnut. Back then it came from Fullers. Although my memory of the Fullers' cake is high up there, I fear now that I’d find the cake too sweet. Who knows? Since then I’ve often thought of making one. My earlier coffee and walnut cupcakes (see here) were similar but I like this loaf better as it's a bit more complex and dense. It’s a delicious way to get your coffee fix with its triple caffeine hit in the layers.

Espresso & walnut layer cake

225g self-raising flour
225g light muscovado or brown sugar
½ tsp sea salt
225ml rice bran oil
4 eggs, separated
50ml espresso*, cooled
50ml whole milk
75g walnuts, chopped, plus 6-8 whole walnuts for decoration

Espresso cream

125g mascarpone
2 tsp cold espresso*
1 tsp golden syrup
1 tsp icing sugar sifted


100g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp espresso*, cooled

* If you don’t have espresso, use very strong instant or filter coffee.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin (about 23cm long).

Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, espresso and milk and beat until smooth with a wooden spoon. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the mix in two goes. Stir in the chopped walnuts and transfer the mix into the loaf tin, smoothing the surface. Give the tin a couple of sharp taps on the kitchen bench to allow any bubbles to rise.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave loaf in tin for 5 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, make the espresso cream and the icing.

To make the espresso cream, spoon the mascarpone into a bowl and beat in the coffee, then the syrup and icing sugar. Once the loaf is cool, cut through it twice horizontally to make three layers. Spread the espresso cream across the two layers and sandwich together.

To make the icing, blend the icing sugar and espresso coffee together in a bowl. Drizzle down the centre of the cake, smoothing it towards the sides using a palette knife and let the icing trickle down the side.

Decorate the top with the remaining walnut halves. Leave to set for 1 hour. 

Recipe adapted slightly from "Gorgeous Cakes" by Annie Bell