Carol's Coffee Cake
Food for Thought

Bake 23 – Carol’s Coffee Cake

Carol's Coffee CakeOne of the advantages of my 52 bakes challenge is that I’ve become utterly shameless in begging people for their cake recipes. As I approach the halfway mark, I’m desperate for new and exciting recipes to try.

I realised, looking back over the archive, that I’d not yet made a coffee cake. This was swiftly followed by the revelation that I don’t think I’ve ever made a coffee cake. In fact, when I went to check the cupboard, the only coffee in the house was in a solid lump at the bottom of the jar.

When I worked in events, I used to drink coffee by the bucket. Quite often, having been up until the early hours stuffing conference packs, it was the only way I was able to remember the alphabet well enough to lay out delegate badges at six the next morning. Coffee was not just mandatory but also permanently available.

At university, I drank coffee with plenty of milk and sugar. Once I started counting it as one of my main food groups, I figured it was time to cut back. First I cut out the milk. Then the sugar. I just never quite got around to cutting out the coffee itself, instead drinking it black and strong, like my parents do.

My next job was more office based, and I took it almost solely based on the availability of free all-you-can-drink Alta Rica coffee from the drinks machines.  A couple of years later, this perk was replaced by generic, rot your insides coffee, but by that point it didn’t really matter, because I was pregnant, and the very smell of coffee turned my stomach.

(Actually, so did most things. I lived for nine months on ready salted crisps and turkey dinosaurs.)

These days, my caffeine drug of choice is definitely tea. I never regained my taste for coffee – these days, the occasional decaf skinny latte (basically warm milk) is as far as I go. My mother, on the other hand, having had to give up dairy products no longer drinks tea, but does love her coffee. And, as it happens, coffee cake.

When I mentioned to my friend, Jo, both the lack of coffee in the 52 bakes challenge, and my mother’s love of coffee cake, she immediately informed me that her sister, Carol, made the best coffee and walnut cake ever. To which, of course, my instant response was, “Can I have it, and will she mind me sharing it with the internet?”

Fortunately for us, the answers were ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in that order. I adapted it by using the dairy-free spread, Pure, for my Mum, but otherwise it’s as Carol sent it. And utterly, utterly delicious, even for a lapsed coffee addict like me.

Carol’s Coffee Cake


  • 6oz Pure spread
  • 6oz soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 level tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp boiling water
  • 3oz chopped walnuts
  • 8oz self raising flour


  • 1level tsp instant coffee
  • 1 level tbsp boiling water
  • 5 oz icing sugar
  • Walnut halves to decorate (although, as you can see from the pictures, I utterly failed to buy any, so sprinkled in it walnut pieces instead)


  • Cream the Pure and sugar together
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time
  • Mix the coffee and boiling water and add to bowl, stirring in
  • Sift in the flour and mix
  • Add the walnuts and stir in
  • Bake at 160°c for 30 minutes, or until cooked

For the icing:

  • Mix coffee and water together, then mix into the icing sugar
  • Smooth on top of cake and decorate with walnuts halves (or pieces!)

Carol's Coffee Cake