This easy to make coffee and walnut loaf gives you those classic tea room cake flavours in the simplicity of a loaf cake. With so much flavour in easy loaf cake form, if you love coffee flavoured desserts, I promise this coffee loaf cake will become a favourite.
It starts with an easy coffee-infused cake batter. This moist coffee cake has the moisture and tenderising properties of oil and sour cream, richness from butter and a kick of coffee you can’t refuse. This loaf cake recipe has a lovely soft and tender texture with a fine crumb. The thicker batter helps to keep the walnuts dispersed evenly through the cake.
It’s all finished off with a very easy coffee frosting that’s like a sweet latte in icing form. Just the perfect morning or afternoon tea treat with a cup of tea (or coffee 😉).
If you love this, you’ll also love my coffee and walnut cupcakes.
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Ingredients you’ll need
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Plain flour: aka all-purpose flour
- Baking powder: Make sure to use baking powder not baking soda / bicarbonate of soda. Don’t get them confused as they act very differently.
- Sugar: There are two types of sugar here – white granulated sugar in the cake itself, then icing sugar (powdered sugar) in the icing.
- Butter: Just stick to unsalted butter or, if you only have salted, leave out the extra salt in the recipe.
- Oil: You just need a good vegetable oil or light flavoured olive oil (don’t use a regular olive oil as it will overwhelm the flavour of the cake).
- Eggs: Just large eggs.
- Sour cream: Sour cream results in both richness and the tender texture of the cake.
- Coffee granules: Use instant coffee granules if you can, as opposed to instant coffee powder or instant espresso powder. If you only have coffee powder, it will work but you won’t need as much. Since the grains of a powder are much finer than the granules, more of it fits into a tablespoon.
- Vanilla: Vanilla is great in any bake. Any! It actually helps to intensify other flavours. Use pure vanilla extract though as opposed to vanilla essence – the latter is a synthetic flavouring.
- Walnuts: I love using full walnut halves for the top of the cake but inside the cake they are roughly chopped. If you prefer, use just the roughly chopped on top too.
How to make coffee and walnut cake (step-by-step)
Being a loaf cake keeps this coffee walnut cake super simple. The batter is much like any cake batter with creaming of butter and sugar, then adding eggs, dairy and dry ingredients, so nothing tricky there. The seriously luscious coffee frosting comes together in minutes.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
For the coffee walnut cake
- Dry ingredients: Start by combining the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk them to aerate a little.
- Wet ingredients: Like many cake batters, just start by beating together butter and sugar. As soon as it combines though (photo 1), add the oil and beat until light and fluffy (photo 2). Now add the eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated (photo 3). Do make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl regularly.
- Coffee cream mixture: Combine the coffee, vanilla and cream together in a small bowl or jug (photo 4).
- Combine it all: This coffee cake recipe uses the typical staggered approach to adding it all together. Start with one third of the flour and mix that in. When it’s just about fully combined add half the coffee-cream mixture (photo 5) and mix that in. Repeat in that fashion 3 more times – flour, coffee-cream, flour – until it’s all combined. Don’t overmix or your cake may end up dense and/or dry.
- Don’t forget the walnuts: Lastly, stir in those walnuts (photo 6).
- Bake it: Pour the coffee cake batter into a prepared loaf pan (photo 7) and bake for 50-60 minutes.
For the coffee frosting
Tips and tricks
- Coffee granules: This recipe was tested and made using coffee granules, not powder. If you use powder, you won’t need to use as much to get the same flavour. This is because the granules take up more space in the tablespoon measure than powder. I’d cut it down by half a tablespoon in the cake and maybe to ½ – ¾ in the frosting.
- Make sure the coffee is fully dissolved or you may find little lumps of coffee in your cake batter or frosting. If it’s not dissolving in the hot water, just warm it in the microwave a little and give it another stir.
- Weigh ingredients: You will ALWAYS get the best result from weighing ingredients and I recommend using a kitchen scale – they last forever and you also don’t have a bunch of cup measures to wash. That said, if you don’t have kitchen scales, spoon ingredients like flour and sugar into your cup measure, then use the back of a knife the scrape along the top to remove the excess. Don’t scoop from your flour container.
- Baking time: Loaf cakes can take up to an hour to bake. This is mainly due to their depth. As pans differ in size though, the exact baking time will come down to that and also to your oven. With loaf cakes, I always recommend checking it at least 5-8 minutes before the recipe below suggests as a slightly larger pan will often result in the cake baking quicker.
- Don’t overbake: Due to their tall and skinny design, loaf cakes can also overbake quickly so do keep a close eye on it when you’re getting to the baking pointy end.
- Coffee liqueur: If you want to spice things up, try using coffee liqueur in the frosting, instead of coffee.
- Add some brown sugar: Brown sugar adds moisture and adds a slight chewiness to cake texture. It also adds a slight caramelly flavour. You can swap half the sugar for brown.
- Grind the walnuts: You can grind the walnuts up so they add their lovely nutty, creamy and slightly bitter flavour throughout the whole cake.
- Cinnamon: A little cinnamon goes a long way but gives this cake an extra layer of flavour. Just ½ a teaspoon will add flavour without overpowering the coffee flavour.
- Grab a piping bag and tip and pipe that frosting on in swirls for an extra special look.
- Swap the buttercream for a coffee glaze using the glaze from my coffee muffins recipe.
Due to their shape, loaf cakes can overbake easily so keep a close eye on it toward the end of the baking time. You’ll want a toothpick or skewer to come out with a couple of crumbs attached for a perfectly moist cake. Also, the tin and cake will retain enough heat after coming out of the oven to continue baking, so make sure to remove the cake within 10 minutes from the cake pan. Keep in mind, overmixing can also result in a dry cake.
This coffee loaf cake will keep 3-4 days at room temperature. If your home is hot, just keep it somewhere cool like the pantry. It will keep for 3 months in the freezer.
No. Room temperature is fine for storing the cake. The fridge can tend to dry cakes out, so only store it in there if your home is particularly warm. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
Yield and storage
This coffee walnut cake recipe will feed 8-10 people.
The coffee and walnut loaf can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
You can freeze the cake. I find it best to slice it first, then layer those individual slices with pieces of baking paper. Transfer to an airtight container or ziplock bag in the freezer. This way you can just take out the amount you want at a time.
Did you try this recipe for coffee and walnut cake?
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Coffee and Walnut Loaf
FOR THE COFFEE WALNUT LOAF CAKE
- 260 g plain flour (all purp flour) (2 cups / 9oz)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup white granulated sugar (200g / 7oz)
- 115 g unsalted butter, softened (½ cup / 4oz)
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ⅔ cup sour cream, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules dissolved in ¼ cup hot water
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
- ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts (50g/2oz)
THE COFFEE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- 1 ½ cups icing sugar (195g / 7oz)
- 115 g butter
- 1 tablespoon coffee granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 walnut halves
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced) / 350F. Grease your loaf tin and line with baking paper.
- FOR THE CAKE:Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine and disperse everything. Set aside.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating each time until smooth and completely combined.
- Combine the sour cream, coffee and vanilla in a small jug.
- Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture and fold in with a spatula until just combined.
- Add ½ the sour cream mixture and fold through.
- Continue alternating, 3 more times – flour, sour cream, flour – carefully folding until everything is just incorporated.
- Gently fold in the chopped walnuts until combined.
- Bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out with a crumb or two attached.
- Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan before using the edges of the baking paper to lift it out of the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- FOR THE COFFEE FROSTING: Once the cake has cooled completely, using a whisk attachment, beat together roughly ½ a cup of the icing sugar and the butter until combined.
- Add the remaining sugar and whip for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla and coffee and whip for another minute.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled cake and top with walnut halves.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
- For best results you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
- Baking time: The baking time will depend on your oven and the exact loaf tin size you’re using and your oven. Check for doneness 5-10 minutes before the recipe suggests.
- Loaf pans: My loaf pan is 8×5 inches and about 4 inches deep. Anything close to this will work. Just keep in mind a cake in a larger loaf tin make bake quicker but will be shallower (not so tall).
- Storage: Store this coffee walnut cake in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.
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