I made this cake for a friend. A few weeks ago she was taking her dog for an early morning walk, slipped and managed to break her ankle in three places and dislocate it. She now has a bionic ankle made good with more pins than a pin cushion on the British Sewing Bee. She is on the mend but still has a good few weeks of recovery to go.
This cake was made to make her feel loved. I have known her since we were 11, (so that is quite a few years), and I consider her as one of my closest friends, and yet I had managed to never notice that she doesn’t like coffee. How did that happen? However, (and I’m not sure if she was just being polite at this point) she did eat a rather hearty slice and asked me to leave her a couple of slices for the next day. Mr OC, who adores coffee, loved this cake. It is drenched with a coffee syrup as soon as it comes out of the oven which makes it deliciously moist. The topping is not your normal sweet buttercream but offers an excellent contrast of creaminess with just an edge of sourness from the quark. You could add more sugar if you were after something a bit sweeter but I liked the contrast very much.
Michele from Cooking at Home recently posted about her coffee cake which never lets her down and everyone loves. I will be making her version next time as I like the idea of the crunchy topping very much.
For the sponge:
1 tbsp instant coffee
scant tbsp hot water
175g (60z) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g (6oz) softened butter (room temperature)
175g (6oz) caster sugar (I used golden)
50g (2oz) hazelnuts, finely chopped (I whizzed whole hazelnuts them in the food processor for a few seconds)
For the syrup:
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
50g (2oz) demerara sugar
50ml (2floz) boiling water
For the filling and topping:
250g (9oz) mascarpone
200g (7oz) Quark or fromage frais
1 tbsp reserved coffee syrup
1 tbsp of dark soft brown sugar (or more according to your taste)
You will need two sandwich tins (mine are 7½ inch or 19 cms) greased and the bases lined with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 170°c, gas mark 3 or use the centre of the baking oven of the four oven Aga.
First mix the coffee powder with the hot water for the cake and allow to cool a little.
Then place all the ingredients, including the coffee mixture into a bowl and mix well until everything is well combined and the batter is a soft dropping consistency. Add a tablespoon of milk if you think it needs to be a little softer. Divide the mixture between the sandwich tins. Place the tins in the centre of the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes until the sponges are beginning to shrink from the sides of the tin and are springy to the touch.
Whilst the cakes are cooking make the syrup. Place the coffee powder and the sugar in a heatproof jug and pour the boiling water over. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. This will take a minute or two.
As soon as the cakes come out of the oven pierce them all over with a skewer or cocktail stick and then spoon the syrup over as evenly as possible. Reserve a tablespoon of this syrup to add to the filling/topping.
To make the filling, place the mascarpone and quark into a bowl and mix until combined. Add the reserved coffee syrup and the sugar and mix until well combined. Add more sugar if you feel you need it but bear in mind that a little sourness is a good contrast to the sweetness of the cake.
When the cakes are completely cold turn them out of the tins and place one onto the serving plate. Pile half the filling on top and then top with the second cake. Swirl the remaining filling over the top of the cake.
Take to a coffee-loving friend, or a friend that doesn’t like coffee – the choice is yours. (Sorry, H).
By the way, we had our holiday. A lovely, relaxing 10 day break on Madeira. We saw the sun again and let it warm our bones. What a pleasure. We came back refreshed and ready for action. Now let’s just hope the English sun peaks its head out from behind the clouds. Come on sun, don’t be shy.