I seem to be making a lot of cakes lately. Perhaps it’s making up for lost time in the lead up to my wedding where I barely made any. Also, making cakes in the summer is a bit of a nightmare, isn’t it? I made four for a friend’s wedding this year and had to ice them in a marquee on the hottest day of the summer, whilst decorations were put up around me, bands soundchecked and the wine began to arrive, also needing fridge space. My icing kept melting, which resulted in several dashes to said fridges to try to chill it before the cakes were ruined completely. If I ever came close to understanding the stress of the contestants on The Great British Bake Off, it was then. Worth it in the end, though, as the wedding was amazing.
Anyway, last weekend I made this cake for my brother-in-law, his girlfriend and her parents who were busy renovating their flat. They’re not just painting and doing a bit of moderate DIY, this is the ripping-down-walls-rebuilding-new-ones kind of renovating which, I imagine, is pretty hungry work.
This cake is one I have made time and time again, and it comes from my favourite baking book, Dan Lepard‘s Short and Sweet. It is a great alternative to a coffee and walnut cake and uses so much coffee that the flavour is really quite strong. The finely chopped brazil nuts and spelt flour give it a coarse texture all the way through, rather than a cake studded with nuts, which is often the way.
It also has coffee water icing. Which is basically espresso and icing sugar. What’s not to like about that?
Double Espresso and Brazil Nut Cake
For the cake
100ml whole milk
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tbsp fine-ground coffee beans
175g unsalted butter, softened
100g soft light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g plain flour
100g wholegrain spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
75g brazil nuts, finely chopped, plus extra for decoration
For the icing
200g icing sugar, sifted
3 tbsp strong espresso
Preheat the oven to 180ºc. Grease two sandwich tins and baseline with greaseproof paper.
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, espresso powder and ground coffee and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a freestanding mixer, beat together the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Beat in the coffee mixture.
Fold in both flours, the baking powder and the brazil nuts until you have an even smooth batter. Do not overwork it. Scrape the batter into the two tins and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the icing, mix together the icing sugar and espresso until smooth and thick. If it is too runny, add more sugar; similarly, if it is too stiff, add more coffee, a little at a time. Using a palette knife, spread the icing over the top of the cooled cakes. Place one cake on top of the other and decorate with the remaining brazil nuts.