I have been trying to blog about this for a couple of days but, typically of the past week, life has gotten in the way. Yesterday was my last day in my job so as well as tying up loose ends and handing over unfinished work, I was taken off to The Mitre in Holland Park and bought many G&Ts by my colleagues. I lost count of how many I had but, needless to say, this morning I had the kind of hangover that only a couple of strong painkillers and a Mike & Ollie lamb shoulder wrap could cure.
Prior to the carnage, Thursday was my final turn on the office baking rota. The baking rota has been a long-standing tradition in my office – each Thursday, different colleagues bring in home-baked goodies for the team. This is looked forward to and enormously well-received. In fact, I have never baked for more excitable recipients than my (now former) team.
As it was my last turn on the rota, I took in a few things: the sausage rolls with apricots and caramelised onions, the classic old rhubarb and ginger cake and a batch of coffee and walnut cupcakes. I had initially intended only to make the first two, however on finding I had all of the ingredients in the house, and two cupcake boxes taking up valuable space in the cupboard, I decided to add these to the list.
Coffee and walnut is one of those retro favourites, loved by tearooms everywhere. I have made countless coffee cakes over the years – it is my Dad’s favourite, so I make one for his birthday every year, although he hates walnuts, so I always leave them out. I also love Dan Lepard’s recipe for Double Espresso and Brazil Nut Cake and James Martin’s Coffee and Cardamom Cake. Whatever your preferred variationof this old classic, the golden rule is not to skimp on the coffee. I like a strong coffee flavour so will make a strong espresso with the coffee machine or use powdered instant espresso, a recent discovery. A good coffee and walnut recipe is a great addition to any baking repertoire, and can easily be converted to cupcakes.
Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes
For the cakes:
- 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 125g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 40ml espresso
- 125g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 50g walnuts, finely chopped
For the icing:
- 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 250g icing sugar
- 30ml espresso
- Walnuts, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 175ºc / 350ºf / gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cupcake cases.
In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture begins to look curdled at this point, beat in a tablespoon of the flour until it comes together. Beat in the espresso.
Fold in the flour and baking powder until just combined. Gently fold in the walnuts.
Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minute until risen and golden. A skewer inserted into the centre of a cake should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the icing, beat the butter in the bowl of a freestanding mixer until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat until a smooth icing is formed. Add the coffee and beat until fully mixed. Pipe on to the top of the cooled cupcakes and top with some walnut pieces.
Makes 12 cupcakes.