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.
*Recipe is from The River Cafe in London.
- 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.
- 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.