Rachel Allen

Mocha Hazelnut Cake

I have times when I crave a coffee cake.  I usually turn to the classic coffee and walnut in such times of need.  But I have also been coveting the notion of an Italian Hazelnut Cake.  I think it was Rachel’s blog where I first saw this, or it may have been Michele’s, or even Tracy’s.  That is the trouble when you read so many wonderful blogs, it can cause no end of trouble when you try to find a recipe that you loved.

Fortunately for me Rachel Allen does an Italian Hazelnut Cake in her book, Bake, and so with a bit of tweaking I had the perfect Coffee and Hazelnut Cake, and because it’s me I couldn’t resist adding some chocolate and turning it into a Mocha Hazelnut Cake.

I urge you to try this, it manages to be incredibly light and incredibly moist at the same time.  The coffee shines through but doesn’t diminish the wonderful hazelnut flavour and the chocolate adds a wonderful depth.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

As I have added both coffee and hazelnuts to the original recipe, it can’t really be called an Italian Hazelnut Cake, but it can be called a Shropshire Mocha Hazelnut Cake.

200g hazelnuts, with their skins still on preferably
50g good quality chocolate
1 tsp baking powder
2tsp instant coffee powder, mixed with 2 tsp of hot water
100g softened butter
5 eggs, separated
175g caster sugar
pinch of salt


Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
Place the hazelnuts, chocolate and baking powder in a food processor and whizz into fine crumbs.  Add the butter and whizz again until just mixed.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and the sugar together until the mixture has the texture of a mousse and the whisk leaves a trail when lifted out.

Add the coffee and the hazelnut mixture and beat until combined.

In a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and the pinch of salt together until stiff. Then add one-third of the egg whites to the other ingredients and stir well to combine and lighten the mixture.  Add the remaining egg whites in two batches, folding in carefully to retain as much air in the mixture as possible.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170°c, gas mark 3, or with the oven rack on the lowest set of runners in the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 1 hour or until the cake is firm on top and a skewer will come out clean when it is inserted into the cake.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


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Mocha cupcakes

I have to share these cakes with you.  In my haul of cookbooks, recently purchased, was Rachel Allen’s Bake and on page 266 of this book there is a picture of  20 cupcakes all decorated differently with an assortment of pink, blue and yellow icing, topped with an array of goodies including orange and lemon slices, jelly diamonds, silver balls, sugar flowers, sugar sprinkles and hundreds and thousands. My girls were both captivated by this picture.  When I asked which one was their favourite they showed their true selves.  The five-year who will more often than not choose a piece of fruit over a slice of cake chose one pretty pink cake with jelly diamonds on top.  The three-year old who will eat fruit only occasionally if really pushed decided that to pick just one favourite was an impossible task and decided that she would eat them all.  In fact she carried the book open at page 266 for the rest of that evening and most of the next morning.  I took the hint and asked her if she would like to make some and the answer was an emphatic ‘yes’.  You can see from the picture that she couldn’t wait for Mummy to take the photograph before diving in.

The recipe is Rachel Allen’s Mocha Cake from the same book and the topping is her cream cheese icing, with the addition of pink and purple colouring obviously optional.  We used all the decorations we had available in the house.  We saved five cakes to be decorated by the five-year old when she came home from school and my parents bought the contents of the decoration shelf of the local supermarket for her to use, so we have plenty of decorations in stock for the next batch!

The recipe made 24 fairy cakes, which is perhaps one too many even for my three-year old so we took them with us to school when we picked up her sister to share with her friends and they seem to have been well received by all involved.

For the cakes:

175g (6oz) self-raising flour
50g (2oz) cocoa powder
175g (6oz) soft brown sugar
175g (6oz) melted butter
4 eggs, separated
60 ml (2 floz) espresso
3 tbsp water

24 paper cake cases, two patty tins (otherwise it will make 12 muffin-sized cakes)

For the cream cheese icing:
75g (3oz) cream cheese, cold from the fridge
25g (1oz) butter, softened
75g (3oz) icing sugar


In a large bowl, sift the flour and the cocoa together and stir in the sugar. Beat in the melted butter, egg yolks, the cooled espresso and water until well combined.

In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then add this in three batches to the cake mixture, making sure it is all combined.

Spoon the mixture into the cake cases placed in the holes of the patty tin for support and bake in a preheated oven at 190°c (gas mark 5) for 10 minutes for fairy cake size and 15 minutes for muffin size. They should spring back when touched lightly with the tip of your finger when cooked. Leave to cool completely.

For the cream cheese icing, beat the softened butter until really soft and then beat in the cream cheese until well combined and smooth.  Sift the icing sugar into this mixture and mix well. Add flavourings (e.g.½ tsp vanilla extract) or food colouring as you please and decorate decadently or otherwise.

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