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Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake

This coffee and walnut loaf cake recipe is an easy, everyday cake to make for an afternoon snack or tea or when neighbors come visiting. It’s made from ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. And it’s customizable if perhaps you don’t.

Baking ratios

The base of this coffee and walnut cake recipe is a pound cake. Like my chocolate chip pound cake, it uses the classic 1:1:1:1 formula of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour.

That’s why it’s called a “pound cake.” Because a pound cake recipe should have equal weights of ingredients – a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of eggs, and a pound of flour. That makes it a super easy recipe to remember.

a coffee and walnut loaf and three cake slices.

Lots of other baking recipes are adapted from standard ratios and classic methods. Like these orange and poppy seed muffins or these lemon and lavender shortbread cookies or the classic 1:2:3:4 yellow cake.

If you know these ratios, it makes it so easy change flavors and add-ins and make things your own way. I would love to know what you try!

Tips and tricks for this coffee and walnut cake

Coffee in baking

The key flavor ingredient in this coffee and walnut loaf recipe is, of course, the coffee. I use the below espresso powder for baking, which you can usually find in regular grocery stores. There’s little difference between espresso powder vs. instant coffee in baking. You just don’t want to use regular ground coffee, because it won’t dissolve like instant coffee does.

a jar of instant espresso powder.

Don’t get tempted to add the morning’s brewed coffee when you’re baking with coffee. Instant espresso or coffee is called for when you don’t want to add liquid to a recipe, like here in this loaf cake recipe and in these coffee truffles.

Other times, you can start with either. Like for the cake layers in my triple layer chocolate cake and peanut butter drip cake. Or in the coffee syrup for my tiramisu cake. Or, of course, if you’re making an espresso martini.

But I digress.

Creaming the butter and sugar

This coffee and walnut cake uses the classic creaming method for making cakes. I recently had a conversation with another blogger about how her readers knew how to cream butter and sugar. Feel free to skip over, dear readers, but I readily admit this is a lesson that took me nearly 40 years to learn.

Start with room temperature butter in cubes (Panel #1 below). Mix on low at first, just so the sugar doesn’t spray out of your bowl. And please don’t stop when the butter and sugar are just mixed together. You can still see sugar granules at this point (Panel #2).

four panels showing how to cream butter and sugar.

Beat on medium-high for a couple of minutes, and scrape down the bowl as needed. The butter should start to feel softer and softer when you scrape (Panel #3 above).

But don’t stop yet. You are going for “light and fluffy” (Panel #4). And it really does take several more minutes to get there, depending on your mixer.

The reason for fussing about all of this is that pound cakes like this coffee and walnut cake are traditionally made without any chemical leavening like baking powder or baking soda. You get mechanical leavening from beating together the butter and sugar and then the eggs, creating air pockets that expand with the heat of the oven. Make sure to have your eggs at room temperature too to avoid curdling the batter.

This recipe adds just a smidge of chemical leavening to avoid having a super dense loaf cake. But feel free to omit it if you prefer your pound cakes that way.

Baking the cake

Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan, but don’t stress about making it perfect. It will even out as it bakes.

unbaked coffee and walnut loaf cake batter in the pan.

Bake until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center of the loaf cake comes out clean, with just a crumb or two. If the top looks like it is browning too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil.

Be warned that pound cakes like this coffee and walnut cake crack. To this, Southern Living says “Don’t worry about it!” If you really really really hate the cracked top, you can hide it with a coffee buttercream. But, honestly, the cake doesn’t need it.

baked coffee and walnut loaf cake in the pan.

Variations on this coffee and walnut loaf cake recipe

  • Use a different nut like pecans or hazelnuts. Most any nut would work.
  • Substitute chocolate chips for the walnuts and make a coffee and chocolate loaf cake.
  • Make a swirl with chocolate ganache or Nutella.
a coffee and walnut cake cut into slices.

FAQs about this coffee and walnut loaf cake recipe

Do I have to weigh ingredients in baking?

No, you don’t have to do anything. But it’s so much easier to make this “half pound” cake recipe when you know you need a half pound (8 ounces) of everything!

Why do you toast the walnuts before baking this cake?

Toasting nuts before including them in a baking recipe brings out their flavor and keeps them crunchier. Once you start toasting your nuts, I promise you will never go back!

Can I freeze this coffee and walnut loaf cake?

Absolutely. Most unfrosted cakes, and even some frosted ones, freeze really well. Just double wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap, put it in a freezer bag, and squeeze out all of the air. To defrost the cake, let it come to room temperature.

Related recipes

Check out other uglyducklingbakery loaf cakes and quick breads like this lemon blackberry loaf cake, a chocolate chip pound cake, or my one bowl banana bread. If you’re willing to put in a bit more time, my nutella babka recipe is worth every bit of effort!

Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake

Category: Dessert
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 9 1 inch slices
Calories: 476kcal
Author: uglyducklingbakery
This coffee and walnut loaf cake recipe is the perfect everyday cake to make for an afternoon snack or tea or when neighbors come visiting. It's easy to make from ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. And it's customizable if perhaps you don't.
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • Stand mixer or hand mixer
  • 9" x 5" loaf pan

Ingredients

  • 1 ⅞ cup (8 ounces or 227 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso or coffee powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces or 227 grams) unsalted butter, softened plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces or 227 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the paper.
  • Sift or whisk the flour, coffee powder, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.
    1 ⅞ cup (8 ounces or 227 grams) all purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon instant espresso or coffee powder
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until it is light in color and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
    16 tablespoons (8 ounces or 227 grams) unsalted butter, softened, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces or 227 grams) granulated sugar
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium for one minute between each addition, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
    4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Add the vanilla and beat in.
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix in on low or stir in by hand just until mixed.
  • Mix in the chopped walnuts by hand.
    1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • Transfer the cake batter to the prepared loaf pan and give it a few thwacks on the countertop to even it out.
  • Bake for 65 to 70 minutes in the middle of the oven until the top is a light brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from the pan onto a rack. Let the cake cool for at least one hour before cutting.
  • Store at room temperature, well-wrapped, for up to one week.

Notes

Variations
  • use a different nut like pecans or hazelnuts.
  • sub chocolate chips for the nuts to make a coffee and chocolate loaf cake.
  • add a swirl of chocolate or Nutella.

Nutrition

Serving: 1inch slice | Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 126mg | Sodium: 185mg | Potassium: 139mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 730IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2mg
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the mess in the sink after making this coffee and walnut loaf cake recipe.

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