I grew up in a household where coffee and walnut was the cake of choice and where a bottle of Irel coffee was always to be found, sat next to baking powder.
It probably seems like an odd flavoured cake for small children to be served, let alone enjoy and is most probably where my caffeine addiction now stems from.
I do think though, things can be over analysed and one could be frowned upon these days, if seen giving a child a drop of coffee – in any shape or form.
But home-baked cakes were such a treat. The colourful array on display in bakeries today, wasn’t as readily available when I was growing up, so anything slightly different to the cream and jam sponge was a luxury.
I’d long forgotten that, until I recently made a coffee and walnut cake and was instantly transported back to my childhood, by the look on my small one’s face upon taking his first bite… a look of delight… a look that asks for more… a look of secret pleasure.
I was also quite surprised at how many of us remember this cake from our childhood, upon flicking through my cookbooks and reading similar stories told from bakers I admire and aspire to.
So in case you haven’t tasted this cake, or even forgotten, I’ve made bite-sized versions of the old-time favourite and I would love to hear what the signature cake was in your family.
Bite-size coffee and walnut cakes
Makes 20 • Baking time: 25-30 minutes
100g castor sugar
75g dark brown sugar
175g soft butter
3 medium eggs beaten
1 tablespoon Irel coffee
175g self-raising flour sieved
60g soft butter
140g icing sugar
1 teaspoon Irish whiskey
1 tablespoon Irel coffee
60g crushed walnuts
To make the sponge
1. Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas 4/160c (fan). Grease and line a 20cm (8”) square baking tin.
2. Cream the sugars and butter together until light and fluffy.
3. Slowly add the eggs with a little flour at each addition to stop curdling. Stir in the Irel coffee and fold in the flour.
4. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until firm to the touch.
5. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out on to a wire tray.
To make the buttercream
1. Beat together the butter and icing sugar in a bowl until white and fluffy. Mix in the Irel coffee and Irish whiskey.
1. Slice the edges off the cake and cut into 20 pieces, then cut each cake in half again.
2. Spread the middle and top of each cake with the buttercream icing and sprinkle with the crushed walnuts.