Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake

This coffee and walnut loaf cake recipe is an easy, everyday coffee and walnut cake that’s perfect for an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee or when neighbors come visiting. It’s made from ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. And it’s customizable if you don’t have everything you need.

Pound Cakes

The base of this coffee and walnut cake recipe is a classic pound cake. Pound cakes are one of the classic baking ratios. Like my chocolate chip loaf cake, it’s formula uses equal amounts of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour.

That’s why it’s called a pound cake. Because a traditional pound cake recipe has a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. That makes it an 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. You can see examples in these orange and poppy seed muffins or these lemon and lavender cookies or the classic 1 2 3 4 yellow cake.

If you know these ratios, it makes it easy to swap out flavors and add-ins. You can turn recipes into your own.

Learn to: cream butter

This coffee and walnut cake uses the classic creaming method for making cakes. I recently had a conversation with another blogger who was convinced that her readers knew how to cream butter.

If that’s you, feel free to skip this section. But I will 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.

Don’t stop when the butter and sugar are first mixed together. You will 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 with a silicone or rubber spatula. The butter will start to feel softer and softer (Panel #3 above).

But don’t stop yet. You really are going for “light and fluffy” (Panel #4). And it really does take several more minutes to get there, depending on your whether you’re mixing by hand, with a hand mixer, or a stand mixer.

The reason for all this fuss is that pound cakes like this coffee and walnut cake are traditionally made without any chemical leavening agents. You get mechanical leavening from beating together room temperature butter and sugar and then the eggs. This creates air pockets that expand in the heat of the oven.

Learn about: coffee in baking

Coffee is of course the key flavor this coffee and walnut loaf recipe. I usually use instant espresso powder for baking. There’s little difference between using instant espresso powder vs. instant coffee in baking.

You just can’t use regular ground coffee, because it won’t dissolve like instant coffee. You can find espresso powder in most grocery stores.

a jar of instant espresso.

Similarly, you can’t always add brewed coffee when you’re baking with coffee. Recipes use espresso powder or instant coffee for coffee flavor when you don’t want to add liquid to a recipe, like in this coffee and walnut loaf cake recipe or in my coffee truffles.

Other baking recipes may call for brewed coffee or espresso. You can see examples in the moist cake layers in my triple layer chocolate cake and peanut butter drip cake. Brewed coffee is also used in the coffee syrup that soaks into the tiramisu cake. Or, of course, if you’re making an gin espresso martini or creamy espresso martini.

Tips and tricks

ProTip: Toasting the walnuts before adding them to the cake batter deepens the nut flavor of this walnut cake and keeps them crunchier. Once you start toasting your nuts, I promise you will never go back!

Step by step

Making the batter

Cream the room temperature butter and sugar well, per the instructions above. Make sure to have your eggs at room temperature too to avoid curdling the batter.

After adding the eggs and vanilla extract, the final steps are to add the dry ingredients and toasted walnuts. Mix these in on low speed or stir by hand to avoid over-mixing the batter

This recipe uses just a smidge of chemical leavening agent to make this loaf cake a little less dense. But feel free to omit the baking powder if you prefer a tighter crumb in your pound cake.

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 cake batter in a loaf pan.

Bake until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center of the cake mixture 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.

cracked coffee and walnut loaf cake in the pan on a wire rack.

Storage

Let the coffee and walnut loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn it out to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting. The loaf cake can be stored at room temperature, either wrapped in foil or in an airtight container, for up to one week.

Variations

  • Use a different nut like pecans or hazelnuts.
  • Substitute chocolate chips for the walnuts and make a coffee and chocolate loaf cake.
  • Make a swirl with chocolate ganache or Nutella.
  • Make an easy coffee glaze with icing sugar and some brewed coffee and drizzle it over top of the cake.
a coffee and walnut cake cut into slices.

FAQs

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 of everything!

Can I freeze this coffee walnut 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 blackberry lemon bread, a chocolate chip loaf cake, or my one bowl chocolate chip banana bread. If you’re willing to put in a bit more time, my nutella babka recipe is a loaf cake worth every bit of effort!

Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake

5 from 1 vote
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
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 inch by 5 inch loaf pan

Ingredients

  • 1⅞ 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 walnut halves or pieces, 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.
    1⅞ 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 walnut halves or pieces, 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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What’s next

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the mess in the sink after making this coffee and walnut loaf cake recipe.

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