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Recipe  •  8 February 2024

 

Espresso Coffee Cake

In the UK, coffee cake is literally a cake with coffee in it.

When I was thinking of my favourite cakes to include in this cookbook, I found out that in North America coffee cake is a cake that you can eat with a cup of coffee – rather like how English tea cake does not actually contain tea but does pair well with tea. Coffee was first cultivated in or around Ethiopia and gained popularity on the Arabian Peninsula in the sixteenth century, spreading into Europe a century or two later. The Dutch and Germans are credited with bringing the concept of drinking coffee with various cakes (such as streusel-topped cakes and Bundt cakes) to North America, a time-honoured favourite ever since. Some coffee cake recipes from the late 1800s onwards contain coffee, but not many are vegan like this one!

Makes: one 9-inch (23cm) round 2-layer cake

Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients

Coffee Frosting

  • 125g (½ cup) cold vegan butter
  • 250g (1½ cups + 3 tablespoons) vegan icing sugar 250g (1 cup) vegan cream cheese
  • 30mL (2 tablespoons) dark rum or coffee liqueur 30mL (2 tablespoons) brewed espresso, cooled
  • 5g (1¼ teaspoons) pure vanilla extract

Sponge

  • 30g (3 tablespoons + ¾ teaspoon) ground flaxseed
  • 360g (1½ cups) unsweetened soy milk
  • 250g (1 cup + 3 tablespoons) organic canola oil 250g (1 cup) coconut sugar
  • 2 shots brewed espresso (or 60mL/¼ cup strong coffee), cooled
  • 28g (2 tablespoons) pure vanilla extract
  • 5g (1½ teaspoons) apple cider vinegar 300g (22/3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 75g (2/3 cup) stone-ground whole-grain spelt flour
  • 10g (2 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
  • 10g (2 teaspoons) ground espresso beans 10g (2¼ teaspoons) baking powder
  • 10g (2 teaspoons) baking soda 4g (¾ teaspoon) fine sea salt

For decorating (optional)

  • Cocoa powder
  • Shaved dairy-free dark chocolate
  • Toasted whole or sliced natural almonds

Method

Make the coffee frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter on medium-high speed until soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the icing sugar and beat on medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rum, brewed espresso, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Scrape the frosting into an airtight container and place in the fridge to set up for a couple of hours. Clean the bowl so there is no residue of coffee frosting.

Make the sponge and bake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly coat two 9-inch (23cm) springform pans with canola oil spray, then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. To make your flax egg, whisk together the flaxseed and soy milk in the bowl of a stand mixer until a smooth paste forms. If there are any lumps, push a small rubber spatula against the side of the bowl to break them up. Let sit for 10 minutes to bloom and thicken.
  3. Whisk in the canola oil, coconut sugar, flax egg, brewed espresso, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, spelt flour, cinnamon, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Using the paddle, beat on medium speed until a smooth batter forms, 1 to 2 minutes. Stop the mixer halfway through and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure there are no lumps or dry patches.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, about 700g per pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cakes cool in their pans on a cooling rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the ring from the pan and let the cake layers cool completely before frosting, about 60 minutes.

Assemble the cake

  1. Remove the coffee frosting from the fridge. Transfer 1 cake layer to a serving plate. Using a piping bag fitted with a plain tip or an offset spatula, pipe or spread a third of the chilled coffee frosting over the cake layer. Place the other cake layer on top and lightly press it down. Pipe or spread a third of the frosting around the sides and then the remaining frosting over the top.
    Pipe some decorative droplets. Decorate by sifting cocoa powder or sprinkling shaved chocolate or toasted nuts over the top, if using. Place the finished cake back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the frosting set.
  2. Store the cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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