This coffee walnut layer cake is surprisingly easy to make while being incredibly flavorsome. I recommend frosting it with homemade vegan coffee Swiss meringue buttercream that's light, airy, and not overly sweet.

What to expect from this recipe

Coffee and walnut cake is a classic British cake consisting of two layers of coffee-flavored sponge filled and topped with coffee buttercream. Basically, if you're a coffee lover (ahem, like me) then chances are that you'll love this cake. No surprises, it goes exceptionally well with a nice hot cuppa coffee.

This vegan coffee cake is:

  • Fluffy and moist
  • Flavourful 
  • Easy to make
  • Perfect for birthdays
  • Great for any special occasion
  • Perfect for coffee lovers!
slice of coffee walnut layer cake.Pin

Ingredients notes

  • Walnuts: Being a coffee walnut cake these nuts are of course one of the main ingredients! The walnuts are ground into a crumb consistency and added to the cake batter. 
  • Neutral oil: I usually go for sunflower oil, but any neutral-tasting oil such as rapeseed will do.
  • Soy milk and apple cider vinegar: Together these ingredients create a vegan buttermilk substitute.
  • All-purpose flour: Plain flour works best for this recipe, I have not yet tried it with a gluten-free all-purpose, but let me know in the comments if you give it a go.
  • Baking powder: This is the leavening agent that will help the cake to rise. When combined with the acidic vegan buttermilk, it will activate during baking and create a light and fluffy cake.
  • Soft brown sugar: This adds a delicious caramelized flavor to the cake which works really well with the coffee.
  • Coffee: Use a good quality coffee as this is the main flavor that will come through in the cake.
  • Vanilla extract: This adds another flavor note as well as enhances the sweetness.
ingredients for making vegan coffee cake.Pin

How to make this vegan cake recipe (with step-by-step images)

(Full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post)

Prepare the wet ingredients first. In a glass, mix together the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and allow to sit for 5 minutes to make the vegan buttermilk replacement. To a large bowl add the coffee, soya milk mixture, rapeseed oil, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. 

Add the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and walnuts) to the bowl with the wet ingredients, gently folding the mixture each time. Be careful not to over-mix, a few pockets of the flour are fine.

Add the cake batter to the prepared cake tins and bake for 40-45 mins. Check the cake is ready by inserting a knife or toothpick into it, which should come out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes before carefully transferring them out onto a cooling rack. Allow them to fully cool before transferring to the fridge in an airtight container until ready to use.

My friend Anthea from Rainbow Nourishments taught me to chill my cakes before frosting them for the best results. So if you want to, you can prep these cakes the day before you plan on decorating them, which helps save time on the day! how to make vegan coffee walnut cake.Pin

How to assemble the cake

To assemble the cakes, first, use a serrated knife to cut off the domes if preferred. Note: you can leave the dome on the top piece, I did so in the cake pictured in the images!

Pipe some buttercream on one of the cakes and place the second cake on top. Coat the entire cake with buttercream or just frost the top of the cake as preferred.

Storage instructions

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up 4-5 days. Remove from the fridge about an hour before serving to allow the cake and frosting to soften a little.

Frequently asked questions

Does it need a crumb coating?

I didn't find it necessary to crumb coat this coffee walnut cake. I used my vegan coffee buttercream to frost the chilled cakes and one coat provided nice even coverage.

Can you freeze coffee and walnut cake with icing?

This cake tastes best when served fresh. I recommend storing it in the fridge and taking it out at room temperature for an hour before serving. You can freeze any leftover cake in an airtight container to serve another time. 

Can you use instant coffee for coffee walnut cake?

You can use instant coffee granules to flavor this cake, just make sure the quality is good. The coffee should taste good enough for you to want to drink it on its own!

vegan coffee and walnut layer cake on white wooden backdrop.Pin

Substitutions

What other icing could I use for this coffee cake?

Additions

  • Coffee beans: A sparse amount of coffee beans on top of the cake will add a little crunch as well as a beautiful garnish. I really emphasize "sparse" here as you probably don't want yourself or your guests to break out in a sweat from the extra caffeine they give to the recipe!
  • Chocolate shavings: If you're a fan of all things mocha a few dark chocolate shavings would be amazing on top of this cake.
  • Chopped walnuts: Another way to decorate this coffee walnut layer cake would be to add chopped walnuts on top. You could also stick them to the sides of the cake if you'd like!
coffee walnut cake with swiss meringue frosting.Pin

More vegan cakes

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and consider leaving a comment as well, thanks!

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Vegan Coffee Walnut Cake

4.96 from 44 votes
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 45 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 12
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Description

Delicious fluffy vegan coffee walnut cake with eggless espresso brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream. Perfect for birthdays, other special occasions, or simply served with a cup of coffee.

Ingredients

  • 100 g (0.85 cups) walnuts, plus extra for garnish
  • 250 g (2 cups) plain flour, sifted
  • 220 g (1 cup) soft light brown sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons (2 ½ tsp) baking powder, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon (¼ tsp) sea salt
  • 15 g (3 tbsp) instant coffee
  • 295 ml (1 ¼ cups) soy milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice
  • 112 g (½ cup) rapeseed oil/sunflower oil, or other neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons (2 tsp) vanilla extract

FROSTING

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F). Line two 6" cake tins with parchment paper and set aside. Add the walnuts to your food processor and blitz until finely ground. Alternatively, you can use a knife to chop them finely.
  • Mix the instant coffee with a ¼ cup of boiling water and set it aside to cool for 5 minutes. In a glass, mix together the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and allow to sit for 5 minutes. To a large bowl add the coffee, soy milk mixture, rapeseed oil, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
  • Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and walnuts to the bowl with the wet ingredients, gently folding the mixture each time. Be careful not to over-mix, a few pockets of the flour are fine.
  • Add the cake batter to the prepared cake tins and bake for 40-45 mins. Check the cake is ready by inserting a knife or toothpick into it, which should come out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes before carefully transferring them out onto a cooling rack. Allow them to fully cool before transferring them to the fridge in an airtight container until ready to use.
  • To assemble the cakes, first, use a serrated knife to cut off the domes if there are any. Note: you can leave the dome on the top piece if preferred.
  • Pipe some buttercream on one of the cakes and place the second cake on top. Coat the entire cake with buttercream or just frost the top of the cake as preferred.

Storage

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up 4-5 days. Remove from the fridge about an hour before serving to allow the cake and frosting to soften a little. This cake tastes best when served fresh. You can however freeze any leftover cake in an airtight container to serve another time. 

Notes

  • Nutrition calculation is based on one serving without buttercream.
  • A sparse amount of coffee beans on top of the cake will add a little crunch as well as a beautiful garnish. 
  • If you're a fan of all things mocha a few dark chocolate shavings would be amazing on top of this cake.
  • Another way to decorate this coffee walnut layer cake would be to add chopped walnuts on top. You could also stick them to the sides of the cake if you'd like!
 

Freezing instructions

 

Nutrition

Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 150mg | Potassium: 140mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 98IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




28 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These are absolutely delicious. My friends and family had no idea they were vegan. I used chopped pecans instead of finely ground walnuts and they had a nice crunch. The first time i made this recipe they didnt seem to rise very well. I doubled the baking powder on my second attempt and they came out perfectly!

    1. Hi Linda,

      That's so great to hear that everyone loved the recipe, and pecans sound like a lovely addition! A note on the baking powder: make sure that its fresh, sometimes baking powder tends to lose its affectiveness if its been opened for a bit. I'm glad you were able to trouble shoot the second time and get it to work!

  2. Hi, looks amazing! If I wanted to turn this to an ice cream cake, could I replace buttercream with a vegan ice cream layer instead?

    1. Thank you so much!

      Honestly, I have yet to try that style of ice cream cake so I can't say for certain the process. But I reckon you could try that way.

    1. Hi Wayne,

      So happy to hear that it worked well with GF flour, thanks so much for the feedback!

  3. because the frosting didn't come out, they come out like little drops of water with coffee when I'm frosting the cake it separates and makes a butter and little drops of coffee, I beat it again it joins again, but when I spread it again it does it again So, it really takes a lot of effort to coat it, I made the recipe to the letter, I would appreciate it if you would answer me, please, thanks for the flavor, it is delicious, but I would love for you to help me with this problem, thank you.

    1. Hi Hortensia,

      It sounds like the water content was too high, which brand of vegan butter did you use? It can also be down to humidity/climate. To compensate, I would just add slightly more vegan butter next time.

      1. sabes que le puse margarina en barra de sams , tal vez ahi estuvo mi error , lo que pasa que las mantequillas veganas aca estan caras , pero tal vez ahi estuvo mi error , lo voy a volver hacer pero con una mantequilla vegana , esta la marca aca earth balance y la country crock.
        muchisimas gracias . por contestar.lindo dia para ti!!!!!

    2. Ah I see, margarine will not work as it has a much higher water content than vegan butter. Do let me know how it goes with vegan butter next time.

      1. porsupuesto que si yo te platico cuando lo haga . muchsimas Gracias !!!!1

  4. This recipe looks delicious! If I were to bake in 9 inch tins, would you suggest baking the cakes for less time?

    1. Hi Jasmine,

      Thank you! Yes good shout, as the batter will be in a thinner layer I would check the cakes with a toothpick after the first 30-35 minutes and continue to bake if needed.

    2. I think 25 mins is enough in 9" tins.i set my timer for the 40 mins and then I checked at 30 mins.very much done.hope it's not going to be too dry!!!

      1. Hi Virginia,

        Thanks so much for sharing this, I hope it turned out ok!

  5. Hi Christina, I tried to make your cake twice but the batter is very wet. All liquid ingredients together sum up to 472 ml. Are you sure the recipe is correct in metric measurements? Or should I better use the US one? Many thanks for your answer!

    1. Hi Christine,

      Yes the measurements are correct (I use grams myself when measuring). It makes quite a wet batter, as you'll be able to see from the step-by-step images. Have you tried baking it yet?

  6. 5 stars
    Just made this cake as a “test run” for a birthday later this week, IT’S DELICIOUS! Moist & not at all heavy. A nice straightforward recipe with no odd ingredients, thank you ☺️

    1. Hi Mel,

      That's so great to hear, I'm happy you loved the recipe. Thanks so much for your feedback 🙂

      1. 5 stars
        & the official birthday one went down very well too! (& got the seal of approval from all the non vegan folk too)

      2. Sweet! So happy to hear that, thanks for letting me know Mel. Hope you're having a lovely weekend

    1. I measured it on the scales with the other ingredients, but you can measure in ml in you find that easier

  7. 5 stars
    Wow Christina! This cake was amazing. It worked beautifully with gluten free-flour by the way. The cake was moist. The flavors so yummy!! Thank you so much for this recipe!

  8. 5 stars
    Wow Christina! This cake was amazing. It worked beautifully with gluten free flour by the way. The cake was moist. The flavors so yummy!! Thank you so much for this recipe!

    1. Awh that's so great to hear Sandra! I saw your post on Instagram and your cake looked absolutely beautiful, great that it worked with gluten-free flour too. Hope you have an amazing weekend x