Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Death by Coffee: for Those Who Prefer Coffee Cake to Chocolate Cake, like Me (Wheat Free)

Chocolate cake is nice, and I like it as much as the next woman, but in my opinion there is something tastier: coffee cake!

I find the flavour of coffee a little more nuanced and interesting than chocolate. There's something slightly bitter and sharp about it, in comparison to chocolate which is a little smoother and rounder tasting. Coffee makes for more interesting flavour pairings, too.

My Dad concurs: coffee cake is his favourite, too. Which is why I look forward every year to making his birthday cake.

I think my fondness comes from a delight in traditional Irish bakery coffee cakes. There's something about their naff margarine buttercream and crunched up nuts or digestive biscuits on the sides that just speaks to me. The local bakery, before I was taken on by new management, used to make a fabulously naff coffee cake that I would buy every time I had a few extra euros at the end of the week.
I know I've done lots of coffee cake recipes before—on account of it being my favourite—but this one is slightly different: this cake uses the same recipe as my recent American style Devil's Food Cake, but uses coffee instead of hot water and cocoa powder. This makes for a super soft, fluffy, and moist cake.
So, let's get started!

☑ Soya (check for soya lecithin)
☑ Yeast
☑ Wheat
☑ Nuts

☒ Eggs
☒ Dairy (dairy substitutes can be found in italics)
☒ Gluten
☒ Refined sugar products

For one large 8 inch (22 centimetre) round cake
  • 7 ounces (200 grammes) white spelt flour
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) cornflour
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) baking soda
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) butter, at room temperature, or margarine
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) vanilla essence
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) brown sugar
  • 6 fluid ounces (180 millilitres) strong coffee, either brewed or instant

For the buttercream,
  • 1 pound (455 grammes) icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) vegetable fat, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (30 millilitres) instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons (30 millilitres) boiled water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) vanilla essence
For assembly,
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) instant coffee
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) boiled water
  • 12 chocolate coffee beans, or other chocolate decoration

  • Preheat your oven to 170ºC (325ºF, Gas Mk. 3), and grease and flour an 8 inch (22 centimetre) deep round cake tin.
  • Prepare the cake according to this recipe, using coffee instead of cocoa powder and hot water, and sifting the cornflour in with the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until fully baked and a skewer comes out clean. Cool as instructed.
For the icing,
  • Dissolve the instant coffee into the hot water and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Beat the vegetable fat until creamy with an electric mixer, then add the butter. Continue to beat until fully combined.
  • Beat in half the icing sugar on a low speed, then the coffee, then the rest of the icing sugar. Adjust the consistency with some milk or water if needed.
To assemble:
  • Cut the dome off the cake, then slice in half horizontally. Attach the top half of the cake to its platter with a tiny smear of the filling to make the bottom layer. Spoon a third of the icing onto the bottom layer, spread out with a palette knife (or butter knife) until it's about half an inch (1 centimetre) from the edge.
  • Place the bottom half of the cake on top upside down, so the flat surface is not the top of the cake. Press gently to glue together, and chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up.
  • Reserve about half of the remaining icing for piping, and use the other half to ice the side of the cake. Ice a one inch (2 centimetre) border around the top of the cake also.
  • Make some glacé icing by dissolving the coffee in the water, and mix it into the icing sugar with enough hot water to make a running consistency. Ice the top of the cake up to the border. Allow to crust.
  • Using the remaining icing, pipe 12 rosettes around the edge, one in the centre, and a shell border around the foot of the cake. Decorate with some chocolate sweets, or chocolate coffee beans.
  • Allow to set for about an hour before serving.

Here, in this picture, you can see the consistency of the cake itself: fluffy and rich and moist and nomnomnom... I could have eaten this whole thing. It is to be enjoyed, however, in small portions, and will keep for up to a week in an airtight container. So, practise some restraint.

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