Mark Flanagan, the Queen’s head chef, will have his work cut out for him this weekend. Not only will he have had to create food celebratory enough for the jubilee, he’ll also have had to cater for the changing palates and preferences of the nation. It’s why I’ve made today’s cake, to help him out (along with any other party caterers). It’s a gentle update on the old coffee and walnut cake stalwart, but not so modern that it’ll leave granny behind. It’s vegan (so most people will be able to enjoy it) and more outward-looking, too. I’ve used tahini, which makes for a luxuriant, silky whipped cream, and miso in the caramel to give the cake some attitude. I hope you like it, Mark.
Coffee, walnut and miso caramel cake
Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients: this a basic recipe, albeit one with several steps, and you can make some of the elements ahead of time and assemble the cake on the day. Wrapped tightly, the sponge will keep well for a day, while the caramel and buttercream can live in the fridge for a couple of days. An electric whisk would make light work of the buttercream, but you can also it with a hand whisk.
Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr 10 min
For the coffee sponge
500g plain flour
325g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp fine sea salt
60g walnuts, finely chopped
160ml olive oil
360ml whole oat milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp instant coffee powder
For the buttercream
150g vegan butter, at room temperature
300g icing sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
For the miso caramel
150g caster sugar
50g vegan butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
1 tbsp white shiro miso
3 tbsp whole oat milk
A pinch of fine sea salt
For the topping
250ml vegan double cream – I like Oatly’s Whippable Creamy Oat
2 tbsp icing sugar
3 tbsp light tahini
50g walnuts, finely chopped
Grease and line two 23cm cake tins, and heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6.
To make the cake batter, put the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb, salt and walnuts in a large bowl, and stir to combine. In a second large bowl, mix the oil, milk, vinegar and coffee powder.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, then pour in the wet bit by bit, mixing it in with a spoon until smooth. Divide the batter between the two tins and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove and leave to cool.
To make the buttercream, beat the sugar, butter and coffee powder with an electric whisk (or beat with a hand whisk), until light and fluffy, then set aside.
To make the miso caramel, put the sugar and two tablespoons of cold water in a small saucepan on a medium heat and stir gently to dissolve the sugar – the mix will bubble and slowly start to take on some colour. After about five minutes, when it turns from pale gold to golden syrup, take off the heat and straight away, but carefully, whisk in one after the other, the butter, miso and oat milk. The mix will bubble aggressively at first, but it will die down after a minute. Once settled, leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then whisk in a pinch of sea salt and set aside.
Just before you’re ready to assemble the cake, whip the cream to soft peaks, then add the sugar and tahini, and whip to stiff peaks (note: they won’t be as stiff as dairy cream peaks).
Once the sponges are completely cooled, assemble the cake. Put one sponge on a serving plate, slather over the buttercream just shy of the outer edge and place the second sponge on top. Layer the cream over the top of the cake, then pour over the miso caramel (if it has stiffened, warm it very gently to loosen). Finally, scatter over the chopped nuts, slice and serve.