Coffee Walnut and Hazelnut Cake

Coffee Walnut and Hazelnut Cake is a simple, richly flavored, nutty cake in the European tradition. Pair it with a great cup of coffee and the morning paper.

The dominant flavors in this cake are the hazelnuts, espresso, and vanilla. The ratio of ingredients is very different from most cakes I’ve made; it has very little flour along with tons of butter, eggs and nuts. The instruction to “chop 3 vanilla beans” flummoxed me. I had planned to just scrape out the seeds up until the last minute when I decided to go for it. I popped the whole beans in my mini processor and whirled away. I added the sugar to the beans to facilitate the chopping and it eventually chopped them extremely fine. In the end, I didn’t notice that it made a stronger vanilla flavor, I would use the seeds of 1 bean and some extract next time. You’ll need a kitchen scale for this recipe, at least for the nuts. I gave you the conversions for the other ingredients.

As you probably could have guessed, this cake is lovely with a cup of strong coffee. I didn’t want to tempt myself, but if I were serving it to guests it could also use a dollop of creme fraiche or whipped cream.

Coffee Walnut and Hazelnut Cake is a simple, richly flavored, nutty cake in the European tradition.  #cake #coffeecake #afternoontea #dessert #coffeecake #hazelnuts #walnuts #rivercafe

*Recipe is from The River Cafe in London.

3.67 from 6 votes

Coffee Walnut and Hazelnut Cake

Author Sue Moran


  • Instant coffee 5 tbsp I used instant espresso
  • Shelled walnuts 240g
  • Shelled hazelnuts 240g
  • Vanilla pods 3 I used 2
  • Unsalted butter 380g 3 sticks plus 3 Tbsp
  • Caster sugar 380g 1 1/4 cups
  • Eggs organic 5
  • Plain flour 100g 4/5 of a cup
  • Baking powder 1 tsp


  • Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.
  • Using extra butter and flour, grease a 25cm cake tin and line with parchment paper. (I used a 9" non-stick springform pan)
  • Dissolve the coffee in two tablespoons of boiling water. Chop the walnuts. Roast the hazelnuts in the preheated oven until brown (about 10 minutes), cool, then rub off the skins and grind to a fine powder. Finely chop the vanilla pods.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and light. Beat the eggs into the mixture one at a time. Stir in the hazelnuts, walnuts and vanilla pods. Fold in the flour and baking powder and finally stir in the coffee. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for an hour and a quarter (an hour and 10 minutes.) Allow to cool on a rack.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


  • Using instant coffee in this recipe is intentional. The cake requires a very strong coffee flavor with as little liquid as possible, which rules out using filter or even espresso coffee
  • This is the recipe that finally prompted me to go out and find a kitchen scale. If you like to cook, get yourself one this holiday season, they aren’t expensive. The Internet has opened up a treasure trove of international recipes, but in order to access them we Americans have to be able to weigh ingredients. Things like the nuts in this recipe are impossible to translate into cup measures; they vary too greatly depending on whether they are whole, roughly chopped, or finely chopped.

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  • Reply
    November 17, 2012 at 5:24 am

    This I must try. It sounds all so perfect.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2011 at 9:09 am

    this looks a bit like baklava in cake form, without all the pesky phyllo dough to handle–AMAZING! 🙂

  • Reply
    Taryn (Have Kitchen, Will Feed)
    December 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    This is such a lovely coffee cake – I imagine it would be perfect to serve to those surprise guests who just happen to stop by.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I am not sure I would have been brave enough to add 3 whole vanill beans but m y new best friend is vanilla bean paste.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2011 at 9:58 am

    i love River Cafe…but sadly have never been! I have 3 cookbooks and I have never ever had a dud recipe! lovely post as always! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 3, 2011 at 1:49 am

    there sure is a lot going on in that cake, by that slice I can see everything, my mouth just watered

  • Reply
    My Picadillo
    December 3, 2011 at 4:07 am

    It looks soooooo good!! I think I’m making this tomorrow. Thanks Sue!

  • Reply
    yummy supper
    December 3, 2011 at 2:49 am

    That looks like my kind of cake. Hazelnuts, chocolate and coffee… yum! And I really enjoyed reading about Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray. I’ve had the great fortune of eating a couple of wonderful meals at River Cafe that I’ll never forget.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2011 at 12:38 am

    That looks so decadent!! I think you know by now that I love hazelnuts. Great photo. It looks really moist too!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    You’re right. I need a kitchen scale. Mine broke years ago and now that I need this cake in my life – I need a scale! (And I do need this cake.)

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