Vegan Coffee Walnut Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Delicious fluffy vegan coffee walnut cake with eggless espresso brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream. Perfect for birthdays, other special occasions, or simply served with a cup of coffee.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
4.91 from 10 votes
vegan coffee cake with swiss meringue buttercream on marble cake stand.

What to expect from this recipe

Coffee and walnut cake is a classic British cake consisting of two layers of coffee flavoured sponge filled and topped with coffee buttercream. Basically if you’re a coffee lover (ahem, like me) then chances are that you’ll love this cake. No surprises, it goes exceptionally well with a nice hot cuppa coffee :).

This coffee walnut layer cake is surprisingly easy to make while being incredibly flavoursome. I recommend frosting it with homemade vegan coffee Swiss meringue buttercream that’s light, airy and not overly sweet.

This vegan coffee cake is:

  • Fluffy and moist
  • Flavourful 
  • Easy to make
  • Perfect for birthdays
  • Great for any special occasion
  • Perfect for coffee lovers!
 

slice of coffee walnut layer cake.

Ingredients notes

  • Walnuts: Being a coffee walnut cake these nuts are of course one of the main ingredients! The walnuts are ground into a crumb consistency and added to the cake batter. 
  • Neutral oil: I usually go for sunflower oil, but any neutral tasting oil such as rapeseed will do.
  • Soya milk and apple cider vinegar: Together these ingredients create a vegan buttermilk substitute.
  • All purpose flour: Plain flour works best for this recipe, I have not yet tried it with a gluten free all purpose, but let me know in the comments if you give it a go.
  • Baking powder: This is the leavening agent that will help the cake to rise. When combined with the acidic vegan buttermilk, it will activate during baking and create a light and fluffy cake.
  • Soft brown sugar: This adds a delicious caramelised flavour to the cake which works really well with the coffee.
  • Coffee: Use a good quality coffee as this is the main flavour that will come through in the cake.
  • Vanilla extract: This adds another flavour note as well as enhancing the sweetness.

 

ingredients for making vegan coffee cake.

How to make this vegan cake recipe (with step-by-step images)

(Full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post)

Prepare the wet ingredients first. In a glass, mix together the soya milk and apple cider vinegar and allow to sit for 5 minutes to make the vegan buttermilk replacement. To a large bowl add the coffee, soya milk mixture, rapeseed oil and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. 

Add the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and walnuts) to the bowl with the wet ingredients, gently folding the mixture each time. Be careful not to over-mix, a few pockets of the flour are fine.

Add the cake batter to the prepared cake tins and bake for 40-45 mins. Check the cake is ready by inserting a knife or toothpick into it, which should come out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes before carefully transferring them out onto a cooling rack. Allow them to fully cool before transferring to the fridge in an airtight container until ready to use. My friend Anthea from Rainbow Nourishments (vegan baking genius) taught me to chill my cakes before frosting them for best results. So if you want to, you can prep these cakes the day before you plan on decorating them, which helps save time on the day! how to make vegan coffee walnut cake.

How to assemble the cake

To assemble the cakes, first use a serrated knife to cut off the domes if preferred. Note: you can leave the dome on the top piece, I did so in the cake pictured in the images!

Pipe some buttercream on one of the cakes and place the second cake on top. Coat the entire cake with buttercream or just frost the top of the cake as preferred.

Expert tips and FAQs

Storage instructions

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up 4-5 days. Remove from the fridge about an hour before serving to allow the cake and frosting to soften a little.

Does it need a crumb coating?

I didn’t find it necessary to crumb coat this coffee walnut cake. I used my vegan coffee buttercream to frost the chilled cakes and one coat provided nice even coverage.

Can you freeze coffee and walnut cake with icing?

This cake tastes best when served fresh. I recommend storing it in the fridge and taking it out at room temperature for an hour before serving. You can freeze any leftover cake in an airtight container to serve another time. 

vegan coffee and walnut layer cake on white wooden backdrop.

Substitutions

Can you use instant coffee for coffee walnut cake?

You can use instant coffee granules to flavour this cake, just make sure the quality is good. The coffee should taste good enough for you to want to drink it on it’s own!

What other icing could I use for this coffee cake?

 

Additions

  • Coffee beans: A sparse amount of coffee beans on top of the cake will add a little crunch as well as a beautiful garnish. I really emphasise “sparse” here as you probably don’t want yourself or your guests to break out in a sweat from the extra caffeine they give to the recipe!
  • Chocolate shavings: If you’re a fan of all things mocha a few dark chocolate shavings would be amazing on top of this cake.
  • Chopped walnuts: Another way to decorate this coffee walnut layer cake would be to add copped walnuts on top. You could also stick them to the sides of the cake if you’d like!

 

coffee walnut cake with swiss meringue frosting.

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vegan coffee cake with swiss meringue buttercream on marble cake stand.

Vegan Coffee Walnut Cake

4.91 from 10 votes
PRINT RECIPE PIN RECIPE
Delicious fluffy vegan coffee walnut cake with eggless espresso brown sugar Swiss meringue buttercream. Perfect for birthdays, other special occasions, or simply served with a cup of coffee.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Servings 12

INGREDIENTS

  • 100 g walnuts plus extra for garnish
  • 2 cups all purpose flour sifted
  • 1 cup soft light brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder sifted
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 ¼ cups soya milk or other plant based milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • ½ cup rapeseed oil/sunflower oil or other neutral oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

FROSTING

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F). Line two 6" cake tins with parchment paper and set aside. Add the walnuts to your food processor and blitz until finely ground. Alternatively you can use a knife to chop them finely.
  • Mix the instant coffee with a ¼ cup boiling water and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. In a glass, mix together the soya milk and apple cider vinegar and allow to sit for 5 minutes. To a large bowl add the coffee, soya milk mixture, rapeseed oil and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
  • Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and walnuts to the bowl with the wet ingredients, gently folding the mixture each time. Be careful not to over-mix, a few pockets of the flour are fine.
  • Add the cake batter to the prepared cake tins and bake for 40-45 mins. Check the cake is ready by inserting a knife or toothpick into it, which should come out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes before carefully transferring them out onto a cooling rack. Allow them to fully cool before transferring to the fridge in an airtight container until ready to use.
  • To assemble the cakes, first use a serrated knife to cut off the domes if there are any. Note: you can leave the dome on the top piece if preferred.
  • Pipe some buttercream on one of the cakes and place the second cake on top. Coat the entire cake with buttercream or just frost the top of the cake as preferred.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up 4-5 days. Remove from the fridge about an hour before serving to allow the cake and frosting to soften a little.

RECIPE NOTES

*Nutrition calculation is based on one serving without buttercream.

Additions

  • Coffee beans: A sparse amount of coffee beans on top of the cake will add a little crunch as well as a beautiful garnish. 
  • Chocolate shavings: If you're a fan of all things mocha a few dark chocolate shavings would be amazing on top of this cake.
  • Chopped walnuts: Another way to decorate this coffee walnut layer cake would be to add copped walnuts on top. You could also stick them to the sides of the cake if you'd like!

 

Storage instructions

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up 4-5 days. Remove from the fridge about an hour before serving to allow the cake and frosting to soften a little.

Freezing instructions

This cake tastes best when served fresh. You can however freeze any leftover cake in an airtight container to serve another time. 

NUTRITION

Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 150mg | Potassium: 140mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 98IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 1mg
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