Old Fashioned Coffee Cake

In Ireland, dropping into a neighbor or friend for a chat and a cup of tea is common place and nobody is ever offended if you show up unannounced. I was always taught it is important not to arrive empty handed though, something I carry with me today! Coffee cake, for me, has a nostalgic flavor which reminds me of every coffee cake my mother brought as gifts to friends growing up.

Coffee cake is ubiquitous across Ireland in coffee shops and cafes and most grandmothers will have their own recipe. It is one of my mothers favorite cakes by far but divides opinion more than most cakes. The icing is thick and sweet and everything one loves about cake but for some reason, I have met a lot of people who just don’t like the nostalgic flavour! This cake will change your mind, it is the perfect teatime treat, give it a try. Sometimes I will make it using a square pan and make small coffee cake slices as part of an afternoon tea.

Old-Fashioned Coffee Cake


Serves 12

For the cake:

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g plain white flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp coffee essence – Irel or Camp are the best. If Im stuck, I use espresso and taste the batter to ensure its strong enough.

2 x 8in/20cm Sandwich tins, lined with with parchment and buttered and floured

For the Icing:

  • 225g butter,
  • 450g icing sugar
  • 1–2 tablespoons coffee essence or espresso
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  2. Cream your butter until soft and creamy – you can use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or do it by hand.
  3. Add the caster sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Mix in the eggs, one at a time and mix well between each addition.
  5. Sieve the baking powder and flour together and fold it gently into the cake mixture, being careful not to overmix. I usually do this part by hand.
  6. Finally stir the coffee essence gently into the cake batter. If using espresso, taste the mix to ensure the coffee flavor is strong enough. If not, add a little more.
  7. Divide between two cake tins, place into the oven and bake for 20-30 mins (this varies by oven). The cake is ready when it starts to come away from the sides of the tin and skewer inserted into the cake centre comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack and make the buttercream.
  9. Whip the butter until very soft. Sieve in the icing sugar and mix slowly initially, add the coffee essence then whip for a few minutes until light and fluffy.Sieving is very important to prevent lumpy buttercream.
  10. When the cakes are cool, sandwich together with the buttercream and then ice all over. Decorate with piping if desired and then enjoy with a large cup of tea and a good natter!

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