RECIPE: Espresso Walnut Cake

It was Dad's 76th birthday last weekend, and my dad has very particular flavor favorites. In particular, espresso and nuts. The man drinks espresso at least 5 times a day! (One of the joys of being an Italian.)

I usually make a pistachio something or other for him. Pistachio is one of his favorite nuts. But this Jamie Oliver cake showed up in my feed, and I ran it past my mom to see if she thought it would be a good birthday cake for my dad. She enthusiastically agreed. 

The main challenge with Jamie Oliver recipes is that for we "measuring challenged" Americans, his recipes are in the metric system. I had to spend a half hour converting things mathematically (with a lot of help from Google converter). A lot of it didn't quite equate, so I had to play with this recipe as I went, rounding up or down. I erred on the side of more espresso versus less-as my dad loves the stuff. But that approach posed challenges with the drizzle and filling, making sure things were the right consistency. Also, it seems that the Brits like smaller cake pans. I used out typical 9" pans, but Jamie uses an 8". So this recipe adaption makes for thinner cake layers, so watch your cooking time. If you have 8" cake pans, go for it. You will have a taller cake and again, you will need to adjust cooking time.

All the math paid off. My dad raved about the cake. Even the teens had pieces versus having the vanilla cupcakes we bought to appease their younger palates. I did not have much left over, as my dad wanted a giant chunk to bring home for the week to go guessed it...his afternoon espressos.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Espresso Walnut Cake 
Adapted from Jamie Oliver

1 1/2 sticks butter, room temp.
1/3 cup walnuts (plus extra for garnish)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temp.
2/3 cup self rising flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 Tbsp. cold espresso

Coffee Filling:
1/2 stick butter, room temp
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 Tbsp. cooled, strong espresso

Optional Drizzle:
8 Tbsp. confectioners sugar
1-2 Tbsp. cooled espresso


Preheat oven to 355˚. Spray 2 9" cake pans with nonstick coking spray, then place a 9" circular piece of parchment on the bottom of each, and set aside. Brew your espresso and let it sit to cool off.  I brewed about 7-9 espresso cups.

In a small bowl mix the flour with the baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small food processor, pulse 2/3rds of the measured walnuts until fine. Chop the remaining 1/3 of walnuts roughly, and add to the ground up ones and set aside.

With a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Next add the eggs and walnuts, and beat until well whipped. Fold the flour mixture into the batter. Add the espresso and mix gently.

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick at the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 5 minutes, then run a dull knife along the edges. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely.

Meanwhile make the filling. Whip the butter with the confectioners sugar and add the espresso. The filling should be light, fluffy and creamy. Keep cool until ready to fill the cake.

Assemble the cake. Place the bottom cake on your serving platter. Take 3/4 of the filling and spread along the top. Gently place the second cake on top. Take the remaining frosting and create dollops along the top edge. Press extra walnuts in each dollop if you have extras for garnish.

If you want to add the drizzle along the top, whisk the confectioners sugar with a little espresso. Use only enough espresso to get the right consistency. You are looking for a drizzle that is not to runny, or it will get soaked into the cake quickly., but not too thick and gloppy. You want the drizzle to pool at the center drip down the sides in a decorative way. Drizzle right before serving for the full affect.

I used the drizzle but in the end, I think the cake would have been fine without it. It almost added too much sweetness to the cake.



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