Sunday, 14 March 2010

Cafe au lait with a splash of pink?

A splash of pink from one of my favourite flowers with its delicate petals. I tried to grow them when we first moved in. Alas, shade and squirrels put a stop to my grand plans - so I shall continue to buy them on special occasions until we have a sunnier spot and I can try again.

So, how has your weekend been? We've been quite busy, pootling out to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday yesterday and having my parents over for a spot of Mother's Day lunch today. I was adamant that I would bake a cake for lunch. And bake I did, with the aid of Mr M's right arm doing a mighty fine food processor impression*, at silly o'clock last night.

I'm not too sure why I became fixated with baking a coffee cake - it's certainly not one of my favourites. It may have taken hold as I flicked through the Hummingbird bakery cookbook (still not baked a thing from there - I don't think the icing recipe really counts as baking...) - who knows! I even bought one the other weekend from the supermarket which was, as expected, a bit blah.

So, here is my first attempt. I'm starting to realise that everyone has their own version. Mine is a take on Nigella's Victoria Sponge recipe. Full credit to Mr M for suggesting, and fetching, the cocoa. And for helping - I don't think he realised just how much help was required.

Cake -
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
190g self raising flour
25g cornflour
10g cocoa
2 tbsp milk
1 heaped tbsp coffee granules, dissolved in 120ml hot water
50g chopped walnuts

Icing -
160g butter, softened
500g icing sugar (gasp!)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp coffee granules dissolved in 60ml of hot water.
25ml milk
50g chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 170C and line two 20cm round cake tins.
Get Mr M-imix to cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the vanilla extract, one egg, together with a spoonful of the dry ingredients, to the bowl and combine using Mr M-imix. Repeat for the remaining 3 eggs. Stir through the rest of the dry mix until combined. Add the milk and 2 tbsp of the cold coffee to the bowl. If the mixture is still a little stiff, add another spoonful of the coffee until you're happy with the consistency.
Chop 50g of walnuts (putting the remainder aside for decorating) and stir through the mixture.
Divide equally between the two tins and pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
Once cooked through, leave to cool. If baking late into the evening and there is no cat-free zone, pop in the oven wrapped up in a tea towel with the door propped open with an oven mitt. Dream about two rock hard, cement-esque Olympic discuses with a faint whiff of coffee ready albeit a little early for 2012.

Once cool, flatten the bottom half of the cake by slicing the dome off.
Cream the butter and icing sugar using Mr M-imix on double-fast speed, as time is running out and hand blender has gunked up on account of butter not being 'soft' enough. Add vanilla, milk and 30ml of the dissolved cold coffee - mix until smooth. Add more coffee if it doesn't feel 'soft' enough.
Using a palette knife spread the bottom half of the cake with a thick layer of icing.
Plonk the other half of the cake on top. Spread the icing over the top and sides.
Sprinkle with the crushed walnuts, pushing down with the palm of your hand to make them stick.
Answer door.Pop the kettle on and grab a plate. I must confess to having already had 3 slices today. Mum adamantly refused to take any home, so it will have to join me in the office tomorrow for others to try.

*One day, when we own stairs and carpet and a proper spare room which doesn't double up as a sitting room, office, dining room, sewing room, guest room, cat house and library, I am going to own a food processor. I can not wait. Nor can Mr M.


  1. Sounds like a fabulous--and delicious weekend! Your cake looks beautiful.

    My favorite coffee cake at the moment (and I'm not particularly a coffee and walnut fan either) is the Mary Berry Coffee Walnut Traybake. Delicious, but it makes so much I can only bake it for the allotment cafe!

    And trust me, you can always fit in a KitchenAid! We don't even have a spare room!

    K x

  2. Mmm - the cake looks gorgeous! I too haven't tried anything for the Hummingbird book yet. Perhaps because there just is too much choice.

    We have a Kenwood Chef but I'm just too small and lazy to get it out of the tall cupboard. One day I'll have a home where I can keep it out ALL the time.

    Hope you (and your Mum, of course) enjoyed the cake! x

  3. Ah, I love coffee cake, and I think your icing looks great, and delicious.

    I'm so glad someone else shares the spare room dilemma. Alas I wore N down and we now have a food processor, squeezed in next to the toaster, and I swear it's breathing in to make itself look smaller. Worth every compromise in the kitchen though!

  4. It looks lush! Truly lush! I keep hearing so many good things about that

  5. Hello, I am very interested in procuring the Mr M-imix - can you please advise where such a model can be purchased? Is there a self cleaning version do you know? :-)xxxx