Dark espresso coffee cake with cardamom – does it get any better?
This is a special cake. Not only is it really very delicious and dark and grown-up, it’s also a celebration cake for our first blogging birthday! This time last year we published our first post (orange and cardamom cheesecake) and began our first year of blogging. We’ve learned a lot over this past year; elderflower stalks are bad for your tummy, foraging is awesome, going gluten free isn’t as hard as you think, taking lovely photos for a blog takes hard work & patience, we love cocktails, there are lots of super lovely food bloggers out there to share recipes with and people LOVE Chana Masala.
We’ve really enjoyed the challenge of writing a blog, making up recipes, sharing old favourites, testing out new ideas and perfecting the photos. It’s been brilliant learning so many things from Sally and I’ve loved reading her posts. As sisters who live in different countries it’s been a great way to keep in touch with each other and I’ve enjoyed coming up with recipes that I think Sally would enjoy… which brings me to our birthday cake creation. For our first birthday I wanted to make a cake which used cardamom, to link in with our first ever blog post… and one of our favourite spices.
Immediately I was struck with the idea of a cardamom and coffee cake because I made cardamom icecream affogato last year and it was a taste sensation. I wanted to recreate that delicious treat with a cake combining a heady black coffee taste with a sweet, cool cardamom cream. Most of the espresso cake recipes online included chocolate. I wanted a pure coffee flavour so I knew that wasn’t right for this creation. I tried a Dan Lepard coffee cake recipe which was delicious, but more like a latte than espresso – again not quite right for this dish. So, I came up with the following recipe which my husband said “tastes like actually drinking a cup of coffee” with a really surprised expression on his face!
I combined it with a cardamom buttercream which I will talk more about below. In the meantime, here is my recipe for a proper espresso cake:
Coffee Cake Recipe
110g unsalted butter
35g black treacle
25g white sugar
120g dark brown soft sugar
145ml milk (semi skimmed)
4 level tsp instant coffee
1.5 – 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee beans (use your favourite blend – mine is Nelsons own blend from a little coffee shop near where i live in Gracia, Barcelona)
2 cardamom pods
130g plain flour
40g spelt/wholemeal flour
1 level tsp ground cardamom (you could increase this if you wanted more cardamom flavour in the cake itself, or drop in a few seeds)
1 egg (beaten)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Heat the oven to 150 & grease a deep cake tin. Mine is a springform one and is 8 inches diameter, 2.5 inches height.
- Melt together the butter, treacle & sugars. Stir and make sure everything is thoroughly melted. Leave to cool a bit – room temperature is ideal if you have time.
- Put the coffees, milk & cardamom pods into a small pan. Bring gently to the boil to infuse the coffee flavour then take off the heat & leave to cool til lukewarm.
- Weigh out your flours and add in a pinch of salt & a level teaspoon of ground cardamom (I buy mine ready-done, or you can grind your own, but it needs to be very fine). Mix thoroughly.
- Mix the dark melted treacle etc into the flour – needs a bit of elbow grease!
- Add 1 beaten egg and mix it all together. No fancy mixers needed, just a spoon.
- When the coffee milk mix is cooled to just about the temperature of your finger (the all important finger test!) then take out the cardamom pods. Measure out your bicarb into another bowl and pour the coffee mix onto it. Stir and see it foam up. This is what will help the cake to rise evenly so you need to ensure it works or your cake will sink a little in the middle (although it will still taste great).
- Add the coffee mix to the cake batter, making sure to scrape in all the coffee grounds as these disappear into the crumb and give the cake its signature dark flavour. Mix thoroughly and you’re ready to go.
- Pour into the cake tin and pop in the oven.
- Bake for 1 hr. Check after 45 mins – don’t open the door if you can help it, just peep through and see if it still looks wobbly. Test the middle of the cake with the tip of a clean knife, or a thin skewer, when you think it’s done. If it comes out clean (with a few crumbs) then it’s ready.
Apologies for the lack of pictures of the process – I made so many cakes in testing the recipe and yet failed to get any pictures while I was at it! Hopefully the description will be clear – it’s fairly simple – but if you have any questions just ask in the comments section below.
The cake itself is beautifully dark and soft. I kept it to a single layer because the flavour is intense!
I won’t give an exact recipe for this as it’s a simple buttercream made by whipping butter, adding icing sugar and a drop of milk. However, as a guide, I used 2 tsp of ground cardamom in a big batch of icing and could’ve actually added a little more. I also added a small pinch of salt and a couple of drops of good vanilla essence to round out the flavour. I whipped it till it was really light and added a little bit of teal & yellow colouring for a pale mint green colour.
Icing the cake
If you like the frosting flower look I created then here’s how to do it yourself.
First make sure your cake is totally cooled or this will be tricky to execute.
You need a piping bag with a hole/nozzle about as big as your fingertip. Pipe large blobs all the way around the outside edge of the cake for your first ‘petals’. To create the petal just take a teaspoon and smooth out the blob with the back of it – practice a few times first to get the motion right. Then pipe your second row fairly close to the first (see pic) to get good coverage. Work down in size to smaller petals in the middle for a pretty floral effect.
I hope you enjoy this ‘cup of coffee cake’. It’s a delicious recipe which keeps well and stays moist for days. I hope you also enjoy our blog, we’ve had lots of fun writing (and reading) it over the past year!