A slice of coffee: Is it your cup of tea?

This will not be everyone’s cup of tea I can guarantee!

As a theme for a recent Clandestine Cake Club event, I was given the letter ‘E’ to inspire me to create a cake to make our cake alphabet! One of my favourite cakes to bake is a coffee cake so a little more research about the flavour of coffee led me to browse the ‘Flavour Thesaurus‘. Not quite a recipe book, not quite an encyclopaedia, it’s a flavour wheel of combinations that will have your mouth watering. So, it would seem that coffee is a good match for plenty of other flavours besides walnuts and chocolate. The inspiration came from reading a cross reference to coffee and cloves, and another to cinnamon and cloves. The first recounted the Ethiopian tradition for coffee made with cloves, and the second stimulated me to put coffee, cloves and cinnamon together to make the Ethiopian coffee cake.

Somewhere along the line, the cloves seemed too strong so I modified the spices with less of the pure ground cloves, and more of the all spice which seemed a little more gentle. It was sweetened with the cinnamon and I offer the measurements in this recipe which is a second version. I would say that the flavours will depend on your own olfactory senses, and the age of your jars!

Also, if you open the bar of dark chocolate and miraculously find that a couple of pieces manoeuvre themselves on to the floor or elsewhere justifying them to be eaten instead of included, then don’t worry, as I think a little progressive quality assurance is fine, just don’t scoff loads of it or you’ll never manage the cleaning of the mixing bowl.

If you’re not put off yet, then here is the recipe and method. It’s a basic sponge cake with a bit more variation than usual, that’s all! What could possibly go wrong? If you want a sneak preview, then look through this and you’ll soon be racing for the kitchen.

Photos and verdict on version two to follow.

Ethiopian Coffee Cake.

Tin= 2x 8 inch/ 20cm round tins, greased and bases lined OR 1x 23cm push pan or spring form tin

Little electric whisk


  • 3 large eggs (weighed- now use this same weight for the next three ingredients!)
  • soft Stork marg
  • caster sugar– I use a third dark muscovado to two thirds golden caster sugar to give a deeper and earthier flavour
  • self raising flour– I use wholemeal for the more earthy flavour but do be aware if you use this you will need to use more liquid in the bake or it could be on the dry side as the flour absorbs more!
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 2 dessertspoons instant coffee dissolved in just enough boiling water to dissolve it, or about 50ml if you are using the wholemeal S-R flour. Allow the coffee to cool
  • I bar dark chocolate with cocoa nibs in it-chopped– most supermarket bars are 100g so I use that and I’ve tried Elizabeth Shaw (very tasty) and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference (I didn’t!) so I’ll let you know on the latter! If you chop it in to small pieces then dust it in a little dish in a small spoonful of the flour, it should help the choc to stay evenly distributed through the cake rather than it sinking to the base
  • Spices– your own mixture along these lines: ¾ tspn ground cinnamon+ ¼ tspn ground mixed spice+ ¼ tspn ground all spice and a scant ⅛ tspn ground cloves.  (I didn’t measure them in version 1 so I’ll let you know the outcome of this combination!)
  • If you are using two tins, consider a filling of coffee mascarpone cream
  • If you are using just one tin, then a dusting of icing sugar mixed with a bit of cinnamon will work. I added an icing drizzle made with a few spoons of icing sugar, two of cocoa, touch of cinnamon, mixed with cooled instant coffee, and made a random pattern on top!

Oven= 180 deg C or Gas Mark 5

What to do=

  1. Grease tin/s and line the base with baking parchment. I also added demerara sugar coating round the edge of the tins for crunch later!
  2. Play with your spice selection- mix the spices until you’re happy with the sniff!
  3. Weigh out the marg and sugar in to a large bowl and cream slowly by hand. Note- if you have used some dark muscovado  sugar then you will need to take extra care that the sugar doesn’t clump. Make sure any clumps are dispersed.
  4. Lightly whisk the eggs in a jug/ bowl.
  5. Have the flour, bicarb and spices all together in a bowl with a dry spoon in it.
  6. Preheat oven.
  7. Now cream the marg and sugar mix with the electric whisk until smooth and creamy- keep pushing the mix down the side with a spatula.
  8. Add small amounts of egg, (I do it in about 4 or 5 lots) together with a spoonful of flour to help stop the mix curdling. Repeat until all the egg is combined.
  9. Add in the cooled coffee mix and a bit more flour. It will probably curdle a bit but it’s ok!
  10. Fold in the rest of the flour with the metal spoon.
  11. Now fold in the chopped dark chocolate with cocoa nibs in it that you coated with a bit of flour from the bowl. Any spare flour goes in as it was from the original weight.
  12. Now the mixture is ready to go in the tin(s). Measure the quantity in each to keep them even if you can if using two tins.
  13. To the oven on Gas 4/5 or 180˚C: Bake the two tin version for 22 minutes, check for doneness, then you may need another 3 mins. If baking in one slightly larger tin, then I found that 30 mins seemed to do it, but it had less liquid in it first time, so always test for doneness in the usual way- clean skewer pulled out of the centre of the cake, or very easy spring back on the cake surface when lightly depressed.
  14. Cool the cake(s) in the tin(s) for a few minutes and then turn out on to a cooling rack. Decorate as you wish.


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