Our first lockdown family birthday took place this week, so we had to very much make do with what was available to us when preparing the celebrations. The mail is understandably much slower at the moment, so we couldn’t guarantee my dad’s gifts would arrive in time and our normal birthday favourite of Lebanese takeout from a local restaurant wasn’t going to be available until the weekend, so mum and I put our heads together as to what we could do at home to make the day itself special.
Among the myriad of little treats we put together was a home-made coffee cake baked by yours truly. In all fairness to dad, he’d dropped hints the size of boulders that he’d like some cake on his birthday – little things like opening the cake tin then audibly sighing that it was empty, leaving the baking tin out on the kitchen island, asking “when are you going to bake another cake?”…subtle things like that.
Although dad does love the Banana Bread and Lemon Drizzles I’ve been churning out endlessly since the beginning of lockdown (which is just as well, because there have been many of them), I thought I’d step the game up with a little something different for his birthday. The Carrot Cake I’d made at Easter was a little too labour intensive for me to bake discreetly and quickly in the one hour window I had whilst dad was outside doing whatever he does with the tractor, so I opted for an easy-to-make-easy-to-bake Coffee Cake. I made it just in time, however I did have to ice it in my bedroom so as not to give the secret away.
Birthday candle duly inserted in pride of place in the centre, the Coffee Cake went down a treat.
Cals Per Serving: 560…but who’s really counting?
- Margarine for greasing
- Self-Raising Flour 170g
- Caster Sugar 170g
- Butter 270g
- Eggs x 3
- Baking 1.5tsp
- Instant Coffee x 2tbsp
- Boiling Water x 2tbsp
- Icing Sugar x 225g
- Walnuts x 1 handful
- Grease a cake tin with margarine and preheat the oven to 160C. I thought this sounded low, but for once my cake didn’t come out of the oven cremated around the edges, so that probably says a lot.
- Take 170g of your butter and mix it with the caster sugar until it’s fluffy. If I’m struggling to mix because the butter’s still a little hard but I don’t have time to wait for it to soften, I pop it in the microwave for about fifteen seconds, ensuring the butter’s not in there long enough to melt. This is probably not advisable – Mary Berry may spit out her scone at the very suggestion – but hey, it’s worked for me!
- Whisk one of your eggs in a mug then add to the sugar-butter mixture. When the one egg is mixed in, add a tablespoon of your flour and fold it in. Repeat with the other two eggs.
- Sieve your remaining flour and fold into the mixture along with the baking powder.
- Dissolve one tablespoon of the instant coffee in one tablespoon of the boiling water. Give it a little stir with a fork to avoid the coffee forming gooey clumps. Add the dissolved coffee to the cake mixture and stir all the way through gently. Make sure every part of the cake mixture has infused with the coffee.
- Scoop the mixture into your pre-greased cake tin and bake for roughly thirty minutes. Mine was perfectly ready to come out after thirty minutes, however it’s worth double checking that it’s cooked all the way through by inserting a skewer into the centre. If the skewer comes out more or less dry or just slightly greasy, your cake should be ready for the cooling rack.
- Whilst the cake is baking, mix the remaining butter with the icing sugar until it’s light and lump-free. Dissolve the remaining coffee in the remaining boiling water, again ensuring it doesn’t clump. Pour half of the dissolved coffee into the icing mixture to start with. Have a little taste to see if you think your icing has enough of a coffee kick. If not, mix in the rest of the dissolved coffee. It’s easier to test as you go and add more as and when you need it, as opposed to realising it’s too strong then having to try and redress the whole palaver.
- Pop your icing mixture in the fridge until your cake has definitely cooled down. Only when you are 100% sure that there’s not so much as a hint of heat coming from the sponge should you start icing. I’ve been known to be too much of an eager beaver and get a bit ahead of myself with the icing application and then be distraught when it starts melting on top of the cake. Not ideal.
- When the cake is iced, pop your walnuts into the icing, gently pressing down so as to ensure they are fixed in place, but not so hard that it pushes the icing out of place.
- Pretend you’re going to wait an appropriate amount of time to start eating your coffee cake, then crack within ten minutes and cut yourself a slice.
If you have any bakes you’ve been trying your hand at during lockdown, I’d love to hear about them. Find me on Insta at @mel_c_owen