Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pecan & coffee cake

I have a weakness for coffee cakes. Also coffee chocolates, anything mocha... and yet I'm not much of a coffee drinker! I made a beautiful coffee cake with a streusel topping last year - recipe from Gordon Ramsay's 'Cooking for Friends'. Must make that one again soon, but this recipe from David Herbert's 'The Really Useful Cookbook' caught my eye - it has coffee fudge icing, ground pecans, and orange zest - what's not to like? Sounds fantastic to me!

Pecans, SR flour and orange zest ready for grinding; Braun Combimax in action (I won this in a magazine comp about 10 years ago); the coarsely ground pecan and orange meal - the zest made it smell amazing!

Beating the butter, eggs and vanilla extract until light and fluffy - at the start of beating at the left (KitchenAid's balloon whisk is a whir here), note how much paler the mixture was by the end of the 5 minutes on the right.

Left - adding the eggs with a spoonful of the pecan / flour mixture between each egg - there was slight curdling after the first egg was added which smoothed out with the addition of the flour. By the time the last egg was added, mixture looked slightly curdled again as you can see on the right.

Strong coffee added; pecan, zest and flour mix added

Ready to bake

I took the cake out of the oven 5 minutes before the minimum time recommended; it wasn't cooked through in the centre, but was looking very brown. I baked it for another 5 minutes and it came out looking perfect. I wondered afterwards why I didn't line the sides of the tin as I normally would. The recipe says to cool the cake in the tin, but I was worried it would be stuck by then, so I carefully ran a spatula around the sides of the cake, unlatched the side of the tin and removed it. It was fine, and not as overly-browned as I had first thought. Now I just have to exercise some patience to allow it to cool before icing it!

Melted butter, water and dissolved coffee added to sifted icing sugar; spreading the frosting on the cake with a straight spatula.

The texture of this cake from the coarsely ground pecans is just amazing! It is beautifully moist, and the hint of orange flavour from the zest works really well with the coffee and pecan flavours. The icing was nicely flavoured and went well with the cake, but it is very sweet. I think I would have preferred something lighter - like a coffee-flavoured buttercream or a coffee-flavoured cream cheese frosting perhaps. David also suggests you could just dust the cake with icing sugar instead of frosting it, which I think would be quite nice. He also suggests making extra icing, splitting the cake in half horizontally, and sandwiching the halves together with some frosting and spreading more frosting over the top. That would be too sweet for my taste, but no doubt very presentable.

The recipe


  • 200g pecans
  • 60g self-raising flour
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  • 175g butter, at room temperature
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2½ tbs strong coffee
  1. Preheat oven to 180ÂșC. Lightly grease and line the base of a 20cm springform tin.
  2. In a food processor or blender, coarsely grind together the pecans, flour and zest.
  3. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together for 5 minutes or until pale.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs and slowly add to the butter mixture one at a time while still beating the mixture, with a spoonful of the flour mixture between each egg.
  5. Stir through the coffee.
  6. Fold through the remaining flour mixture with a metal spoon (I used a balloon whisk).
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
  8. Cool in tin.
  9. Serve either dusted with icing sugar or iced with coffee fudge frosting.

Coffee fudge frosting

  • 40g butter
  • 30ml water
  • 1 tsp coffee granules
  • 200g icing sugar
  1. Sift icing sugar.
  2. Combine butter, water and coffee in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until butter is melted and coffee granules are dissolved.
  3. Add the butter mixture to the icing sugar and stir to combine. Continue stirring until cool and thick enough to ice the cake, and then ice immediately. Decorate with pecans if desired.

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