Country Living (UK)
RICH COFFEE AND WALNUT SPELT CAKE
Preparation 1 hour, plus cooling Cooking 3 hours 20 minutes Serves 12-16 Cardamom pairs beautifully with coffee and brings a modern twist to this classic cake.
150g walnut halves 20 cardamom pods 2½ tbsp instant coffee powder 375g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease 275g light muscovado sugar 6 medium eggs, lightly beaten 375g white spelt flour 1 tbsp baking powder 50g caster sugar FOR THE MERINGUE KISSES 2 medium egg whites 100g caster sugar 1 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tsp hot water, plus extra, sifted, for sprinkling FOR THE SYRUP 40g light brown muscovado sugar 1 tsp instant coffee powder 8 cardamom pods, bruised FOR THE COFFEE BUTTERCREAM 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature 400g icing sugar, sifted 2 tbsp instant coffee powder dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
1 First, make the meringue kisses: preheat the oven to 110˚C (90˚C fan oven) gas mark ¼. Beat the egg whites in a grease-free bowl with electric handbeaters until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar, whisking constantly – the meringue should be thick and glossy. Whisk in the coffee mixture.
2 Line two large baking sheets with baking parchment (use a little meringue to stick down the corners). Spoon the remaining meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round nozzle. Pipe 20 ‘kisses’ on to the lined sheets, spacing apart. Bake for 2 hours, then turn off the oven and leave to cool completely inside. Put into an airtight container until ready to use.
3 Preheat the oven to 180˚C (160˚C fan oven) gas mark
4. Put the walnuts on to a baking tray and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Bash the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar to release the seeds; continue to grind the seeds as small as you can. Put the seeds and husks into a cup with the instant coffee and 4 tbsp boiling water. Stir, then set aside to infuse.
4 Grease and line a 20cm deep loose-bottom cake tin. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with electric hand-beaters for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, a little at a time, adding a little flour if it looks like it might curdle.
5 In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Strain the coffee into a jug and discard the husks. Set aside 50g walnuts for the decoration; chop the rest. 6 Fold a third of the flour into the egg mixture, followed by half the coffee. Repeat until it has all been added. Finally, fold in the chopped walnuts. Turn into the prepared tin. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
7 To make the syrup, in a small pan, melt the sugar with 75ml water over a low heat, then bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the coffee and cardamom pods. Leave to cool and infuse before removing the cardamom.
8 Spread out the reserved toasted walnuts on a tray lined with baking parchment. Put 50g sugar and 1 tbsp water in a small heavy-based pan. Cook on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and bubble for 8-10 minutes until it begins to turn a deep golden colour. Drizzle the caramel over the walnuts and leave on the baking tray to set. When cold, put a couple in a food bag and crush with a rolling pin.
9 To make the buttercream, in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add the coffee mix and whisk to combine.
10 Spoon 6 tbsp into a piping bag fitted with a closed star piping nozzle and set aside. When the cake is cool, slice horizontally into three. Brush the syrup on to each layer and let it soak in for 10 minutes. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on each, then stack. Spread a thin covering on top of the cake and the rest around the sides. 11 Pipe rosettes randomly around the top edge, dot with the meringue kisses and caramelised walnuts; sprinkle with the crushed caramelised walnuts. Dust meringues with a little instant coffee, then serve.