Espresso Cake

When I first told Marie that she would be the judge at my coffee cake cake off she had no idea that I meant an espresso cake. That is because my idea of coffee cake and hers were different. Mine being the English idea; a cake flavoured and tasting of coffee and Marie’s, the American idea; cake you eat with coffee (I told her mine could also be eaten as an accompaniment to coffee) that has strusely bits on top.  Anyway, we’ve both been educated and now to the important part. If you like coffee and you like cake, then give this recipe a try.

For the cake part;Espresso cake

12 oz sugar

8 oz plus 4oz unsalted butter

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

4 Tbsp instant espresso powder

1/4 cup boiling water

1/2 cup butter milk

3 Tbsp  plus 3 Tbsp camp coffee

3 large eggs

12 oz all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

Espresso cake

These are my best friends when it comes to needing a caffeine fix in a pinch, if you can’t find camp coffee or its equivalent mix 1 tablespoon of instant espresso and 1 teaspoon of sugar with about 1½ tablespoons of boiling water, you want it the consistency of syrup.

Preheat the oven to 350°

Espresso cake

Beat together the sugar and 8 oz of butter until it is a glorious creamy emulsion

Time to put the kettle on

Espresso cake

Melt the other 4oz of butter in saucepan over a moderate heat

Espresso cakeEspresso cake

Sprinkle in the cocoa powder …                                                                                        …and whisk, whisk, whisk

Espresso cake

Dissolve your instant espresso and whisk into the melted butter mixture. Turn off the heat and put to one side.

Espresso cake

Into a jug, measure out the buttermilk, add in the camp coffee. Thick treacle like coffee concentrate

Espresso cake

Pretty swirls, to this add your eggs

Espresso cake

Yolky delight, with my reflection trapped inside

Mix this together well

Espresso cakeEspresso cake

Remember the melted butter mixture? Well grab that and pour it into the buttermilk mix, and then beat into the creamed butter and sugar

Espresso cake

The mix may separate, but fear not, once you add the dry ingredients it’ll work itself out. Speaking of which..

Espresso cake

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl

Espresso cake

Slowly incorporate the dry into the wet ingredients, don’t over mix them

Espresso cakeEspresso cakePrepare your pans; I grease and flour mine, but also line the bottom with parchment paper

Distribute the batter evenly, OK, so you don’t have to be as anal as me and measure it on a scale. I just like even halves that’s all

Bake in the oven, on the middle shelf for about 3o minutes, remember though that this is the baking time for my oven and yours will vary so keep an eye on the cake

When the cake is done, place on a baking rack, allow to cool for a few minutes and the remove from the pan and take the parchment off the bottom.

Espresso cake

While the cake is still warm drizzle the remaining camp coffee evenly over the two sponges.

Espresso cake

While they’re cooling completely, make the icing and ganache.


4 oz  Salted butter      Espresso cake

6 oz Icing (confectioners) sugar

3 tsp instant coffee

1 tbsp milk

Beat together the butter and icing sugar until smooth. If you beat to fast too soon you’ll end up with a sugar cloud like I did. Loosen with  a little milk until you have a spreadable consistency.

Sprinkle in the instant coffee and mix in, you don’t want the grounds to dissolve.

Espresso cake

Crunchy bitter coffee granules waiting to slowly dissolve into the sweet creamy icing

Espresso cake

Spread it generously

Espresso cake

Top with the other half and push down gently, If the butter cream oozes out scoop up with your fingers and lick off. You could do that, or you can smooth it back in the gap between the layers. It’s good enough to eat right here, but why not guild the lily? Here’s how…


4 Tbsp instant espresso

1 pint of heavy cream

1½ pounds of dark chocolate

Break the chocolate up  and put in a bowl, I use the one for my stand mixer. Set a pan with a little water in the bottom and the store to boil.

Take ¼ cup from the pint of cream and warm in the microwave for about a minute, dissolve the coffee in this.

Espresso cake

Mix back in  with the rest of the cream and pour onto the chocolate

Espresso cake

Put the bowl over the pan of simmering water and whisk the    chocolate and cream together until all the lumps are gone and you are left with a beautiful glossy velvet blanket of warm ganache.

Let this stand for 5 minutes and then whisk to remove any hidden lumps.Cool to room temperature, you shouldn’t try to rush the cooling by putting the ganache in the fridge as the outside will cool more quickly and set, then you’ll have lumps in the ganache.

Once cool, beat with a paddle on a medium speed until it has lightened. A word of caution, if you leave the ganache too long, it will seize up. If this should happen add some cream little by little beating slowly until it’s  spreadable.

Now cover the cake with it and cut yourself a slice, you deserve it. If like me you are a bowl and beater licker, you might have to wait.

Espresso cake

Hear what Marie had to say about it and more on the subject of coffee, listen to our third podcast ‘The love of the bean’.