This coffee, cardamom & walnut cake, via Fiona Cairns, is perfect for Autumn with its warming spice, caffeine hit and caramel topped buttercream, like golden Autumn leaves. If you are catering for wee ones or those who struggle with hard sweets then bash the walnut caramel into much smaller pieces – like a praline.
For the cake:
175g unsalted butter, really soft, in pieces, plus more for the tins
50g walnuts, roughly chopped
15 cardamom pods (De-seeded and ground).
175g caster sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp of boiling water and cooled
3 eggs, lightly beaten
50g ground almonds
125g self-raising flour, sifted
For the caramelised walnuts:
50g walnut halves
100g caster sugar
For the buttercream:
5 cardamom pods (de-seeded and ground)
150g unsalted butter, softened, in pieces
250g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp coffee essence (or 1 tbsp instant coffee, prepared as above for the cake)
1 tbsp double cream
Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm round cake tins. Keeping them separate, place the nuts both for the cake and the caramelised nuts on baking trays and roast for six minutes before cooling.
In a food mixer (or bowl with a hand-held electric whisk), cream together the butter, sugar and coffee until very light and fluffy – a good five minutes. Gradually add the eggs, then the almonds and cardamom.
Gently fold in the flour and chopped nuts, being careful not to over-mix.
Divide between the tins and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack while you make the topping and decorations.
Lay the walnut halves for the caramelised walnuts on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Fill your kitchen sink with a little cold water. Put the sugar and 100ml of cold water in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar over a gentle heat. Increase the heat to a boil, stop stirring and occasionally brush the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water (this prevents crystals forming). Boil until the mixture turns golden and has thickened. Plunge the base of the pan into cold water, then drizzle the caramel over the walnuts on the tray and leave to set.
To make the buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar for a good five minutes. Add the vanilla extract, cardamom, coffee and cream and beat until smooth.
Spread over both cakes, then place one on top of the other. Spread it over the sides, too, if you like.
Decorate with caramelised walnuts and shards of the caramel, to make a dramatic decoration, and serve the coffee, cardamom & walnut cake with even more coffee or tea.
What are you baking this weekend?