Wednesday, August 17, 2011

(Delia Smith) Coffee & Walnut Cake

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This is a very special post for me because I finally overcame my mental barrier and shot my photos in 'manual'. This has been something I promised I would do ever since getting my DSLR some 14 months ago. But I have been so used to shooting in 'aperture', I never really bothered getting out of my comfort zone. Inertia can be a very powerful thing.

Well, I certainly hope that with more practice, I will understand more thoroughly the concepts of photography ... just like the way I'm finally beginning to fully grasp the science of baking. Yes, it has taken me a long time (and many, many setbacks) to get here but like Abraham Lincoln once said, "I walk slowly, but I never walk backwards." Onward, I go. Majulah! :)

And now the cake.

This is a simple Coffee & Walnut Cake that I made one afternoon. It is a sponge cake that was originally meant to be sandwiched like a Victoria Sponge (the filling and topping are made using mascarpone), but I chose to make it as one single cake, and let it go bare and naked. ;) I didn't have mascarpone, and I didn't fancy driving out just to get some. Besides, I reckoned, this being a nutty cake, it would be more filling than a regular sponge, and I was right. I think with the mascarpone, you'd no doubt get a prettier cake, but also one that would be much heavier. It's really your call. :)

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The recipe comes from Delia Smith, of whom I am a fan. Heck, if I had a posh British accent like her, I would be talking all day. ;) I'd stop blogging and turn to vlogging, just so I can hear myself speak. Heh heh! Anyway, you can view the video here, or follow the drill below:

(from Delia Online)

- 110g / 4oz self-raising flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 110g margarine (whipped vegetable fat), at room temperature (I used unsalted butter)
- 110g / 4oz golden caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp instant espresso dissolved in 1 1/2 tbsp of boiling water
- 50g / 2oz finely chopped walnuts

For the filling and topping
- 250g / 9oz Mascarpone cheese
- 1 dessertspoon instant espresso powder
- 1 rounded dessertspoon golden caster sugar
- 8 walnut halves
- Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC, 325ºF, gas mark 3

The texture of this cake is light and airy, and the nuttiness really stands out. If you don't want to add any coffee, it's fine. You can omit that, and get a regular walnut cake. But I would suggest adding 1 to 1 1/2 tsps of vanilla extract or rum in its stead. This is a great no-fuss cake to serve at teatime.
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1. Take a very large mixing bowl, put the flour and baking powder in a sieve and sift it into the bowl, holding the sieve high to give it a good airing as it goes down. Now all you do is simply add all the other cake ingredients (except the walnuts and coffee) to the bowl and, provided the margarine is really soft, just go in with an electric hand whisk and whisk everything together until you have a smooth, well-combined mixture. This will take about 1 minute but, if you don't have an electric hand whisk, you can use a wooden spoon and a little bit more effort. What you should end up with is a soft mixture that drops off the spoon easily when you give it a sharp tap. Then add the coffee mixture and the chopped walnuts and whisk them together.

2. Divide the mixture between the prepared sandwich tins, spreading the mixture around evenly. Then give each tin a sharp tap to even the mixture out and place the tins on the centre shelf of the oven and bake them for 30 minutes.

3. While the cakes are cooking you can make up the filling and topping, and all you do here is place all the ingredients, except the walnut halves, in a bowl and whisk them together till thoroughly blended. Then cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill till needed.

4. When the cakes are cooked, ie, feel springy in the centre, leave them in their tins for about 30 seconds then loosen the edges by sliding a palette knife all round and turn them out on to a wire cooling rack. Peel off the base papers carefully and, when cool sandwich the cakes together with half of the coffee cream, then carefully on top and spread the other half over.

5. Finally, arrange the reserved walnut halves in a circle all around. It's a good idea to chill the cake if you're not going to serve it immediately.


  1. Hey, photos look great - I particularly like the one on the ingredients, very striking. Cake looks excellent as well.

  2. it looks like banana bread! bet it's really delish!

  3. Cake looks great and congrats on switching to manual! I hope you found that it's not as huge of a change as you expected (or at least that was my reaction). I think a lot of the fear is from the hype. Since I rarely touch my ISO anyway, the single main difference for me between aperture priority and manual is being able to control my own shutterspeed (which I love!). Anyway, way to go!

  4. The photos (and the cake) looks great! I like the first photo the most too!

  5. You're the best cake slicer..I've told you that from day one:)

    Very good shots too!

    It's fun to experiment.
    I don't get the Manual very well..Except on P manual:)

  6. I love the 1st pic! it's awesome!!!

  7. Haha im English, but dont have the typical posh british accent you speak of...sad times! Delia is a goddess isnt she, i have full faith that this recipe tastes divine and im definitely saving it! Gorgeous cake you have there of which i am craving lotssss right now :)

  8. if you ever have an idea of bringing out your cook book you can do your own photos, they are splendid.

  9. are the cake Queen...I bow to you!
    Gorgeous pics....gorgeous cake!

  10. Nice cake! Can you tell us the secret on how to cut the cake to be so clean and tidy?

  11. hankerie: Use a non-serrated knife with the thinnest blade you can find, and also ... lots of practice, I guess. ;)

  12. absolutely love the first photo too! i tend to stick to aperture too, need to get out of it like you have!

  13. Hi! I was wondering, where did you get the instant espresso powder from? I can't seem to find it anywhere.

  14. Hi! How big should the tin be?