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coffee and walnut loaf cake slices drizzled with coffee glaze.

Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake (Easy Pound Cake)

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This coffee and walnut loaf cake, based on an easy pound cake recipe by Rose Levy Beranbaum, is rich and incredibly tender. Drizzle with coffee glaze, if desired, for more sweetness and an extra coffee kick.

Instead of the traditional creaming method, we’ll be using the two stage method today for mixing the batter. It’s easy, it’s quick, and produces cakes with an amazing texture!

coffee and walnut loaf cake slices drizzled with coffee glaze.
Coffee and walnut loaf cake

What Is Pound Cake?

Pound Cake, or quatre quarts (four quarters) as it is known in France, is traditionally composed of four ingredients in equal weights (a pound): flour, sugar, butter and eggs.

Traditional pound cakes are generally made without a leavening agent (baking powder/soda), yielding a cake that is rather dense. Most bakers nowadays will generally tweak the original recipe, to produce a sweeter, moister and slightly lighter cake.

The pound cake batter is usually mixed through the creaming method: the butter and sugar are mixed together until light and fluffy (several minutes). You can then mix in the eggs, before adding the sifted dry ingredients. If there are liquids in the recipe (milk, buttermilk), they are added by alternating with the flour.

Overmixing cake batter through this method however can lead to a tough and rubbery cake from excessive gluten formation. The two stage method on the other hand allows you to mix for longer and still get a tender cake.

coffee and walnut loaf cake.

Mixing The Batter: The Two Stage Method

The two stage method (aka blending or pastry blend method) consists in:

  1. Mixing the dry ingredients with the fat and a little bit of liquid. By doing this, the fat coats the flour proteins, shielding them from the liquids in the batter. Less gluten is formed, leading to a more tender cake.
  2. Adding the remaining liquids: The remaining liquids are added in two additions.

What is gluten? Gluten is formed when the flour proteins (glutenin and gliadin) come into contact with water. Gluten provides structure to baked goods. Too much gluten however will produce a tough, rubbery cake.

The two stage method can be used for high ratio cakes, which contain more sugar than flour (or at least an equal amount). This method was traditionally used for cakes that contained shortening instead of butter. Rose Levy Beranbaum made this technique popular for cakes with butter in her book “The Cake Bible”.

For this method to work properly, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The importance of temperature

The ingredients should all be at room temperature, ideally between 18-21°C (65-70°F) for a good emulsion. If one of the ingredients is too cold, you’ll end up with a curdled mixture.

The importance of mixing time

The two stage method limits the formation of gluten, yielding tender cakes. But there should still be enough gluten formed to hold the cake together. This is where the mixing time comes into play. Once the dry ingredients are moistened (with the butter and part of the liquid), you need to mix for 1 minute on medium speed.

When you beat the dry ingredients with the butter: 1) You incorporate air into the batter, yielding a lighter cake. 2) A little bit of gluten is formed, giving structure to the cake.

slices of walnut coffee loaf cake.

Scraping the bowl regularly

Scrape down the sides of the bowl regularly, to ensure your batter is properly mixed and smooth.

Now that we know what the two-stage method is, let’s take a look at the ingredients.

Ingredients

Dry ingredients

  • Flour: The flour will give structure to the cake. The original recipe calls for cake flour. Cake flour is a low protein flour (6-8%) which means less gluten is formed. Using cake flour will yield a soft and tender cake with a fine crumb. Since it isn’t readily available to all, I’ve replaced it with all-purpose flour and cornstarch, which adds tenderness to cakes. Use whichever flour you prefer.
  • Sugar: For sweetness and flavor. The sugar will also contribute to the tenderness of the crumb by interfering with gluten formation.
  • Baking powder: For a little bit of rise and a lighter cake.
  • Salt: A little bit of salt will enhance all the flavors.

Fat

  • Butter: For richness, flavor and tenderness. Use room temperature butter, ideally at a temperature of about 18°C (65°F). You should be able to press the butter with your finger and leave a dent. If the butter is too cold, you’ll have trouble combining it with the other ingredients. If the butter is too soft or feels very greasy, it’s probably too warm. And you might end up with a greasy cake.
slices of coffee and walnut loaf cake drizzled with coffee glaze.

Liquids

  • Eggs: For structure. The egg yolks will also add richness and flavor and will help achieve a smoother batter. Make sure the eggs are at room temperature so that you can easily combine them with the other ingredients.
  • Milk: We’ll be using just a little bit of milk, for moisture and flavor.

Flavorings and add-ins

  • Flavorings: You’ll need instant coffee powder. I prefer to dissolve it first in the milk. But you could add it to the dry ingredients if you prefer. We’ll also flavor the cake with vanilla extract.
  • Walnuts: We’ll be breaking shelled walnuts into small pieces and mixing them with flour, to prevent them from sinking. Keep an eye out for small pieces of walnut shells that might have been overlooked. You can add as many or as little walnuts as you’d like. The nuts are less likely to sink to the bottom of the cake if you toast them first. I have to admit I usually forget to toast them and I still enjoy the cake. So just go with what is more convenient and what you prefer.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F, conventional setting) and place the baking tray on the middle shelf.
  • Grease a 23 x 11 x 7 cm (9 x 4 1/3 x 2 3/4 inches) loaf pan and line it with parchment paper. I find it best to grease the parchment paper as well. If you’re not sure how to line the pan, you can find step-by-step pictures in the marble cake recipe. And if you don’t want to line the pan, grease and flour it instead.

Prepare the egg mixture

  • Pour the milk in a medium-sized bowl, then mix in the instant coffee powder to dissolve it.
  • Whisk in the eggs, one by one, followed by the vanilla extract. Set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients

  • Place all the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder and salt) in a large mixing bowl.
  • Using the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. I like to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula, to make sure all the ingredients are properly mixed.

The dry ingredients are beaten with the paddle attachment for an even distribution, instead of sifting them.

Add the butter and half of the egg mixture

  • Add the butter to the dry ingredients, along with half of the egg mixture. Mix on low just until combined, about 40 seconds.
  • Increase the speed to medium and beat for one minute. The mixture will look lighter in color and fluffier.
  • Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add the remaining liquids

  • Add half of the remaining mixture and mix on medium speed just until combined.
  • Repeat with the remaining egg mixture. Don’t overmix. Don’t worry if the batter looks a bit curdled at this point.

Fold in the walnuts

  • Break the walnuts into small pieces (pea sized) over a small bowl. I just do this by hand. Mix the walnuts with one teaspoon of flour.
  • Gently fold into the cake batter using a spatula.

Bake the cake

  • Pour into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I generally cover the cake with a loose piece of parchment paper after 25 minutes, to prevent excessive browning.
  • Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack (in the pan) for 10 minutes.
  • Holding onto the parchment paper overhang, lift the cake out of the pan. Return the cake (without the paper) to the wire rack to cool completely.
  • Serve as is or drizzle coffee glaze on top.

And that’s it! Hope you enjoy this cake!

More Cake Recipes

Coffee and Walnut Loaf Cake (Easy Pound Cake)

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Tanya Difficulty: Easy
Servings

9

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

45

minutes

This coffee and walnut loaf cake, based on an easy pound cake recipe by Rose Levy Beranbaum, is rich and incredibly tender. Drizzle with coffee glaze, if desired, for more sweetness and an extra coffee kick. Instead of the traditional creaming method, we’ll be using the two stage method today for mixing the batter. It’s easy, it’s quick, and produces cakes with an amazing texture!

Ingredients

  • For the coffee and walnut loaf cake
  • 40 g 40 whole milk (1.4 oz.)

  • 10 g 10 instant coffee powder (0.35 oz.)

  • 3 3 large eggs (150 g/5.3 oz.), at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons 1 1/2 vanilla extract (6 g/0.2 oz.)

  • 130 g 130 all-purpose flour (4.6 oz.)

  • 20 g 20 cornstarch (0.7 oz.)

  • 200 g 200 white granulated sugar (7.1 oz.)

  • 1 teaspoon 1 baking powder (4 g/0.14 oz.)

  • 1/4 teaspoon 1/4 salt

  • 170 g 170 unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature (6 oz.)

  • 100 g 100 shelled walnuts, preferably toasted (3.5 oz.)

  • For the coffee glaze (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon 1 instant coffee powder (2 g/0.07 oz.)

  • 30 g 30 boiling water (1.1 oz.)

  • 150 g 150 powdered (icing) sugar, sifted (5.3 oz.)

Directions

  • Making the cake
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F, conventional setting) and place the baking tray on the middle shelf. Grease a 23 x 11 x 7 cm (9 x 4 1/3 x 2 3/4 inches) loaf pan and line it with parchment paper. I find it best to grease the parchment paper as well. If you’re not sure how to line the pan, you can find step-by-step pictures in the marble cake recipe. And if you don’t want to line the pan, grease and flour it instead.
  • Pour the milk in a medium-sized bowl, then mix in the instant coffee powder to dissolve it.
  • Whisk in the eggs, one by one, followed by the vanilla extract. Set aside.
  • Place all the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder and salt) in a large mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. I like to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula, to make sure all the ingredients are properly mixed.
  • Add the butter to the dry ingredients, along with half of the egg mixture. Mix on low just until combined, about 40 seconds.
  • Increase the speed to medium and beat for one minute. The mixture will look lighter in color and fluffier.
  • Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add half of the remaining mixture and mix on medium speed just until combined.
  • Repeat with the remaining egg mixture. Don’t overmix. Don’t worry if the batter looks a bit curdled at this point.
  • Break the walnuts into small pieces (pea sized) over a small bowl. I just do this by hand. Optional (but recommended): Mix the walnuts with one teaspoon of flour (3 g/0.11 oz.).
  • Gently fold into the cake batter using a spatula.
  • Pour into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I generally cover the cake with a loose piece of parchment paper after 25 minutes, to prevent excessive browning.
  • Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack (in the pan) for 10 minutes.
  • Holding onto the parchment paper overhang, lift the cake out of the pan. Return the cake (without the paper) to the wire rack to cool completely. Serve as is or drizzle coffee glaze on top. Wait for the cake to cool down before attempting to slice it, so that it doesn’t fall apart.
  • Making the coffee glaze
  • Dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water. You can make the coffee as strong or mild as you’d like. If you want a subtle coffee flavor in the glaze, simply use less coffee powder (about 1/4 teaspoon for example).
  • Place the powdered sugar in a bowl and slowly pour the coffee over it, whisking until smooth. You might not need all the coffee. The glaze should be thick, but pourable. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add some water (or coffee).
  • Drizzle the warm glaze over the cake (that has cooled down).

Notes

  • Coffee glaze: The glaze is completely optional. You can omit it, or you can make a small portion to drizzle on individual slices. Simply add a little bit of coffee to as much powdered sugar as you’d like, until you get the right consistency.
  • Walnuts:You can add as many or as little walnuts as you’d like. The nuts are less likely to sink to the bottom of the cake if you toast them first. You can toast them in a skillet on medium heat for a few minutes, shaking them occasionally, until fragrant. Alternatively, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then bake them in a 180°C (356°F) oven for about 8 minutes. Note: Keep an eye out for small pieces of walnut shells that might have been overlooked.
  • Cake flour: If you wish to use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, omit the cornstarch and use 150 g (5.3 oz.) of cake flour instead of 130 g (4.6 oz.) of all-purpose flour.
  • Coffee flavor: Although we are using a large amount of coffee powder in the cake, the coffee flavor isn’t overwhelming. Feel free to use less if you prefer. I wouldn’t recommend using more however as it adds bitterness to the cake. If you want a stronger coffee flavor, it’s best to do this with the coffee glaze.
  • Instant coffee powder: I used Nescafé’s instant coffee sachets. These are quite practical if you are not a regular coffee drinker. You can buy a small pack of sachets which is cheaper than a regular coffee container and open only what you need. This makes it very easy to store the remaining sachets for your next coffee baking endeavor!
  • Lining a loaf pan with parchment paper: Place the loaf pan on top of a large piece of parchment paper. Make sure the paper is big enough to go up the sides of the pan and leave a small overhang. Cut out the four corners of the parchment paper by using the edges of the pan as a guide (see pictures in Marble cake post if needed). Grease your pan and place your parchment paper inside the pan. The butter will help it stay in place. Grease the parchment paper.
  • Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s pound cake found on Joy of Baking.

Bibliography

Corriher, S. O. (2008). Bakewise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking. Scribner.

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