Coffee cake

This recipe is another one my mother used to make. Like the apple cake before it, the recipe comes from the c.1974 Whinmoor St Paul’s School charity cook book. Everything about the recipe belies its vintage. It was originally written in lb/oz and had margarine in it. It was titled ‘Coffee cake suitable for mixers,’ which indicates that it came from a time when stand mixers were only beginning to find their way into domestic kitchens – in the 70’s the Kenwood Chef* was the thing to have.

The recipe calls for coffee powder, and when it says that, it means it. Ground coffee will not do – we are talking 1970’s Mellow Birds here. So the best way to handle that in the modern days of proper coffee is to take some decent instant coffee granules (they still exist) and powder them with a mortar and pestle.

The original cooking time was given as 30 minutes, but I have found it needs another 5 mins or so to prevent sinking. Mum used to decorate this cake with walnut halves around the edge. This makes sense if you want to eat it with your hands, as it gives you a fudge-free spot to put your forefinger on.

*I learned to my delight that Kenwood mixers were designed in 1950 by a bloke called Ken Wood from Woking.

Coffee cake

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By Whinmoor St Paul's School Serves: 1 cake
Cooking Time: 35 mins


  • For the cake:
  • 170g oz self-raising flour
  • Half a tsp baking powder
  • Half a tsp salt
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 113g soft butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp powdered coffee (see notes)
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • For the fudge icing:
  • 1 dessert spoon golden syrup
  • 1 dessert spoon milk
  • 15g butter
  • 1 dessert spoon Camp coffee essence
  • 113g icing sugar, sifted



Heat an oven to 190˚C. Grease a 20cm round cake tin.


Sift flour and baking powder into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add all other ingredients. Beat with the mixer for 2 minutes. Pour the batter into the tin.


Bake in the oven for 35 mins. Cool fully.


To make the fudge topping, heat all the ingredients together except the sugar. Finally beat in the icing sugar, cool a bit and pour over the cold cake. It will semi set on the cake once cool.


To obtain powdered coffee, put some instant, freeze-dried coffee in a mortal and pestle and grind it to a fine powder. Do not get any ideas that ground fresh coffee beans will work – they won't (too gritty and do not dissolve in the batter). Camp brand coffee essence can be used instead, as it is in the fudge topping.

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