Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Coffee Walnut Cake: High Tea My Way

Photo: Darren McGardy, the royal chef's website
I'm thinking of hosting a High Tea. The afternoon meal consists of finger sandwiches (such as cucumber and egg), scones, muffins or crumpets, and if you really want to get fancy, a glass of Champagne. Well ... as an American, I don't have to be as strict as an upper class Brit. In lieu of muffins and crumpets, I'm serving a walnut cake.

Here is a recipe I tweaked from the New York Times. I like the addition of instant coffee to the walnut cake and frosting, but I use the ingredients in different measurements. (Because. I can't leave well enough alone!) I also prefer buttermilk and the use of an electric mixer. So voilà ... the following is my recipe:

Coffee Walnut Cake


1 1/2 cup sugar
Photo: New York Times
2 sticks butter
4 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried cinnamon
1 tablespoon instant coffee
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rum (or Bourbon)
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup finely ground walnuts (I grind the walnuts in a food processor. Dilute with a tablespoon of flour to keep it loose.)


1) In a bowl, mix the sugar and butter together with an electric mixer. 

2) Add the next 10 ingredients in order and beat with the mixer.

3) Fold in the ground walnuts.

4) Pour into 2 buttered and floured 9'' cake pans. 

5) Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until a tester produces a crumb.

6) Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans, then cool completely.

While the cake is baking prepare the frosting, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Coffee Walnut Frosting

Photo: Hammons

3 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup chopped walnuts to sprinkle on  top of the frosting.


1) Combine the 1st 4 ingredients into a smooth frosting.

2) Frost the top, center and sides. Place in the refrigeration for 10 minutes and frost the cake again like a professional baker if you wish. Double frosting makes a cake look bakery flawless!

3) Garnish with the walnuts on the top and sides of the cake.

The spirit of High Tea lives on across the pond! I plan to serve tea and this delicious cake on pretty china; the finger sandwiches on a tiered stand; and decorate the table with a vase of pretty pink roses. Also I may serve a light soup (like cream of broccoli; or tomato). In America, we so often eat soup with sandwiches.

Hmm ... do you think anyone will miss their muffins or crumpets?😊

You may also enjoy:
Eaters Beware
Most Daily Vitamins Are Worthless
The 5 Second Rule For Food Is Untrue
Greenmarkets, Community Gardens And CSA's


  1. Coffee cake is my absolute favourite, so I will keep you recipe and try it. How I'd love to go to your High Tea Debbie. But in the meantime, I am going to one in a few weeks at a city hotel with a group of ladies, and really looking forward to it. Happy Baking!

    1. And I'd love to have you, Trish! Wish we could jet back an forth from Brisbane to Manhattan. Wouldn't it be fun?

    2. This recipe looks so delicious, Debra. As you know, I had a British grandmum who was very particular about her tea and everything that went with it. I still use her tea service when I have friends over for tea.

      I don't think crumpets will be missed, but I definitely think you should add some scones with assorted jams and jellies and lemon or lime curd. I have my grandmum's recipe for that if you need it.

      Also, the secret to great cucumber sandwiches is to peel them, slice them in half moons, set them out on a paper towel, salt them and let them sit for a bit, the salt absorbs the moisture and keeps your sandwiches from getting soggy when you assemble them.

      I spread the bread with cream cheese and chopped fresh dill, but you can also use butter or whatever herb you like.

      Take lots of pictures.

    3. Oh ... thanks, Marie-Thérèse for your great tips! Nobody wants to eat soggy cucumber sandwiches. Yes ... on 2nd thought, the scones and jams are essential to making the High Tea authentic!