Coffee-walnut cake

June 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

This is a true coffee cake, which isn’t to disregard cakes that one eats WITH coffee, but rather to clarify that this cake contains coffee. I know it probably seems ridiculous to have discussed two cakes in a row, but this cake is so comforting and so dreamy it’s completely worth it. And I promise to cook something involving vegetables soon — and before you ask, no, it won’t be carrot cake.

But back to this coffee-walnut cake. I love coffee, I love cake, so it makes sense that I’d want to bake this, but what moved this recipe to the top of the pile was the intriguing method of preparing the cake that brings you a cake in essentially fifteen minutes from start to finish. Want to guess how it’s done?

Don’t be too scandalized, but the way to bake this cake so quickly is to use the microwave!

It might sound a bit, well, déclassé, but microwave baking is actually quite cool. Microwave baking is fast, efficient, and when it’s about nine hundred bajillion degrees outside with enough humidity to swim in, it’s wondrously nice to not have to turn on the oven and still have a fresh, home-baked cake for dessert. Of course, today it is quite nice outside, in the low seventies with a crisp breeze, but I think this cake is enjoyable anytime a quick pick-me-up dessert is needed.

The only changes I made to the original recipe, a reader-submitted one to Good Food, were to substitute a mix of granulated and brown sugar for the golden caster sugar, and to use my latest frosting favorite, cream cheese frosting, as the base of the frosting on my cake. The intriguing mix of coffee smokiness and cream cheese richness is definitely a good combination; my dad, who is an avid coffee drinker, really liked it too. If you want to punch up the coffee flavor even more, dust some crushed coffee granules over the top of the cake, or even add a bit more to the cake batter as well.

Oh, and if you don’t wish to have a freckled cake (though I have nothing against freckles, seeing as I have many myself), be sure to use either instant coffee powder, or to crush the granules before mixing them into the batter. The cake will taste delicious, coffee freckles or no.

Coffee-walnut cake

Adapted from Good Food

Serves six to eight


For the coffee cake

  • 3 ounces (85 grams) very soft butter
  • Three ounces (85 grams) golden caster sugar OR 1/3 cup granulated sugar plus one tablespoon brown sugar
  • One tablespoon instant coffee granules, crushed, or use instant coffee powder
  • 2/3 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) flour (see note)
  • One teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • About 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped, then toasted, a few reserved for decorating

For the coffee frosting

  • Six ounces (170 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • Three tablespoons (42.5 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (86 grams) confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • Two teaspoons instant coffee granules, dissolved in one tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules, crushed, for decorating (optional)

1. Soften butter by microwaving it in bursts on the medium setting of the microwave (or leave out to soften on the counter). Grease a microwave-safe dish, such as a Pyrex dish, of approximate eight by eight inch dimensions (if you do opt to soften the butter in the microwave, a tiny bit might melt, so use that to grease the dish for baking the cake too). Meanwhile, toast chopped walnuts in the toaster oven for two to three minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, or in a skillet over high heat on the stove for four minutes, shaking occasionally.

2. In a large bowl, beat softened butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Crack in the eggs one at a time, stirring after each egg is added.

3. Mix in flour, instant coffee, baking powder, and salt. Mix in most of the walnuts into the batter, reserving a few for decoration.

4.  Pour batter into the greased microwave-safe dish and bake on full power for two minutes. Lower microwave power to medium and bake cake for another two minutes. Check to see if the cake is finished baking by seeing if it is risen. There should be no liquid pooling in the center of the cake, a tester should come out clean, and the cake should spring back if pressed gently. If the cake is not done yet, continue cooking the cake on medium power for one minute intervals, testing the cake after each minute of additional cooking (do not overbake, or the cake will be dry).

5. Meanwhile, make coffee frosting by dissolving the instant coffee granules or powder in the milk. In a separate bowl, mix together powdered sugar, butter, and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.

6. Once the cake has cooled a bit, spread the frosting over the cake and decorate with the reserved toasted walnuts, and sprinkle with a bit of additional crushed instant coffee granules. The cake is excellent served warm and after a few hours’ rest in the refrigerator (bring the cake to room temperature before serving, ideally…though I admit I munched on some straight from the fridge!).

Note: baking a cake in the microwave will not cause the cake to brown as it would in an oven, so be sure to check for other indications that the cake is done, such as checking to see if a tester comes out clean, and that the center of the cake is set.

You can substitute 85 grams of self-raising flour for the flour, baking powder, and salt.


Dunkley, Catherine. “Microwave Coffee and Walnut Cake.” Good Food. Mar. 11, 2011: 9. Print.


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§ 2 Responses to Coffee-walnut cake

  • Hmm, I don’t have a microwave cake pan! That’s the only thing that will keep me from making this this weekend. And two cake posts in row? Nothing wrong with that.

    • says:

      If you have a microwaveable glass bowl you can still make this – you just get a dome-shaped cake rather than a square one.

      Of course, if you own stainless steel mixing bowls, then you will have to invest in a glass dish, I don’t want anyone setting anything on fire! :)

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