Coffee, Walnut and Cardamom Cake
Will Torrent trained under Heston Blumenthal at the age of 16, won Young Chef of the Year in 2009. He now has a book out which celebrates the great British tradition of afternoon tea. Learn how to make and bake the most exquisite cakes, scones and savoury delicacies with Will’s no-nonsense recipes.
- 4–6 cardamon pods
- 4 tsp instant coffee granules
- 225g butter, softened
- 125g golden caster sugar
- 100g light muscovado sugar
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- a pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp whole milk, at room temperature
- 100g walnuts, chopped and toasted
- 1 1⁄4 quantity meringue buttercream
- Walnut Praline:
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 100g walnuts
- 3 x 20-cm/8-inch cake pans, greased and base-lined with buttered baking parchment
- a sugar thermometer
- Meringue Buttercream:
- 175 g golden caster sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 200g butter, softened
- 3 tsp instant coffee granules
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Gas 4. Start by making the cake batter. Crush the cardamom pods using a pestle and mortar and pick out the husk leaving the little black seeds in the mortar. Grind the seeds to a fine powder. In a small bowl dissolve the coffee granules in three teaspoons of boiling water.
- Tip the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer, add the golden caster and light muscovado sugars, and cream until pale and light – this will take at least three to four minutes. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula from time to time. Add the crushed cardamom seeds and coffee and mix again to combine. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and add the salt. Add the milk and mix again until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Add the chopped toasted walnuts and fold in.
- Weigh the cake mix and divide it evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Leave the cakes to rest in the pans for three minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Next, prepare the walnut praline. While the oven is still on, toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for three to four minutes. Roughly chop and set aside. Tip the golden caster sugar into a small pan, add one to two tablespoons of water and set over a low heat without stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and continue to cook until the syrup becomes an amber-coloured caramel, swirling the pan so that the caramel cooks evenly. Tip the nuts into the pan, stir to coat and cook for another 30 seconds. Quickly tip the nutty caramel out onto a sheet of baking parchment and leave until hardened and cold.
- Break the caramel into chunks and whizz in the food processor until finely chopped. Store in an airtight container until needed – sugar loses its crunch if left exposed.
- To build the cake, place one layer on a serving plate and spread with three tablespoons of the meringue buttercream. Top this with a second cake layer and spread with more meringue buttercream. Add the third cake layer and using a palette knife spread the remaining meringue buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. Press the walnut praline around the base and top of the cake and serve.
- To make the meringue frosting, combine 25g of the golden caster sugar with the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Tip the remaining sugar into a small pan, add 75ml of water and set over a low–medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and continue to cook until the syrup reaches 118C (244F) on a sugar thermometer.
- Remove the pan from the heat and working quickly whisk the egg whites at fast speed until they will hold a just firm peak. Slowly and steadily, with the motor running on a low speed, pour the hot syrup into the mixer. Increase the speed and continue whisking until the mixture has become cold and is whipped into glossy peaks. Dissolve the coffee in three teaspoons of boiling water and add to the meringue. Gradually add the butter beating well between each addition. Spoon the meringue buttercream into the large piping bag.
Extracted from Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£19.99) Photography by Matt Russell © Ryland Peters & Small