This cake recipe has become a firm favourite in our house recently and I’ve made it into a layer cake and cupcakes with great success! It’s a delicious rich bake with a strong espresso hit from both the cake and frosting, I was inspired by this recipe but have made some tweaks and switched to Italian Meringue Buttercream (my new favourite!).
Chocolate Espresso Cake
I’ve stuck pretty close to the Sugar Coated Cottage recipe here but chosen to use melted butter rather than oil, if your wanting the oil version (which I have made and was still yummy I just prefer the extra richness of butter) her recipe is linked here.
Makes 12 cupcakes, to make a 3 layer 8 in cake double this recipe.
- 175g plain flour
- 200g caster sugar
- 40g cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarb
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 85g melted butter
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla paste
- 1 lungo Nespresso pods or 125ml instant coffee brewed and cooled.
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 F) and prepare a 12 hole muffin tin with cases if your making cupcakes or lightly grease and line 3 8 in cake tins if your making a layer cake.
- Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer and stir through to mix (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicard and salt).
- Melt your butter in the microwave (go gently and do it in 10 second blasts), once melted add the eggs, vanilla paste and cooled coffee and whisk gently till fully mixed.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and with your mixer on low mix until well combined, scrap down the sides to make sure all the ingredients are mixed.
- For cupcakes fill each case 1/3 full (don’t be tempted to add more as these cupcakes rise really well and you’ll end up with mountains!). If your doing a layer cake pour the batter evenly into your 3 cake pans.
- For cupcakes bake for 25 mins, for layer cakes bake for 35 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. As this cake is quite a dark brown care needs to be taken to not let the top burn while cooking, if need be cover the cake with foil to protect the cake from over browning on top.
- Allow the cupcakes or layers to cool completely before frosting. If your doing a layer cake trim the 3 layers to ensure they are flat ready for filling and layering up.
Espresso Italian Meringue Frosting
This frosting is literally the most gorgeous coffee frosting ever! I am now fully converted to Italian Meringue Buttercream and sort of think all other buttercreams and frostings pale in comparison to this light and smooth buttercream! It is a little bit more work than basic buttercream but it is totally worth it! It keeps for a week in the fridge and freezers for up to a month so if you’ve any leftover or make a big batch save it, when your ready to use your chilled/frozen buttercream let it come to room temperature overnight. This buttercream can be rescued even if it looks split, just take a little and blast for 10 seconds in the microwave then add to the split buttercream and whip either by hand or in your mixer and it should come back together beautifully. This tutorial from American Heritage Cooking gives a ton of tips for making the perfect Italian Meringue Buttercream, if your worried about making IMB for the first time its an amazing starting point with all the information you need to make silky, smooth buttercream.
Makes enough buttercream to frost a 3 layer cake completely or 36 cupcakes. It is possible to make less by reducing the number of egg whites and all the other ingredients proportionally.
- 5 egg whites
- 375g sugar
- 150g water
- pinch of salt (optional)
- 450g butter cubed
- 1 lungo Nespresso pod or 75ml of very strong instant coffee cooled
- Ensuring you have a really clean bowl for your mixer add all the egg whites and a pinch of salt and set up with the whisk attachment on your mixer, don’t switch on yet.
- Place the sugar and water in your saucepan and heat on a medium heat stir gently till the sugar is dissolved (I usually do this by gently swirling the saucepan). Once the sugar is dissolved atop stirring.
- Start your mixer to whisk the whites and keeping heating the sugar. The aim is to get the sugar to 235 degrees at the same time as you achieve firm peaks with the whites. This usually takes approximately 5-10mins but if your sugar is heating too fast you can turn the heat down or if the mixer is almost at firm peaks you can turn the mixer down (just don’t turn off completely).
- While your waiting for the sugar and whites to be ready weigh out and cube your butter and leave at room temperature (this will mean it’s not hard when your ready to add it without being super soft).
- Once you have firm peaks and your sugar is up to temperature (I always use a sugar thermometer to do this). Turn the mixer to low (you don’t want to splash hot sugar syrup on yourself) and with a steady stream pour the sugar down the side of the bowl in one go. This can feel a bit daunting at first but trust me go steady and calmly and all will be fine!
- Turn the mixer up to medium once all the sugar has been added and continue mixing until the side of the bowl feel barely warm to the touch (times vary here but usually takes 10mins approx to cool).
- Once cooled enough add your butter one cube at a time, give each cube a little squeeze as you add it and allow it to be fully mixed in before you add the next cube. Continue until all the butter is added and keep mixing to form smooth and silky buttercream. If it starts to look split it maybe because it too cold try placing a warm tea towel or your palms on the bowl to warm it slightly.
- Now you have your basic buttercream you can add flavour. Add your coffee slowly, and optionally 1 tsp of vanilla paste, the mix resists the coffee initially but keep mixing and stop and scrap the bowl until the coffee combines with the buttercream. Taste and add more coffee if need be – we like it strong with coffee flavour in our house!
Now it’s time to decorate your cupcakes or layer cake! This buttercream pipes beautifully so feel free to use any tip you like to create the effect you want. For cupcakes I like to pipe a generous swirl then decorate with gold and silver sprinkles or sugar pearls. For a layer cake a pipe small swirls in a boarder around the edge of each layer then fill the middle (I don’t bother doing swirls here as you won’t see it). I then stack all the layers neatly finishing with swirls over the whole of the top of the cake (I didn’t pipe or cover the sides of my cake but you could easily do this as this buttercream smooths beautifully for a crisp smooth cake). Then sprinkling with gold and silver sprinkles, sugar pearls or chocolate sprinkles to decorate.
What treats have you been getting obsessed with recently and remaking several times? I know this cake is going to remain a family favourite for some time to come, I’d love to hear what bakes are family favourites so share some love and leave a comment!