Coffee and walnut cake – the failure

I knew it would end in tears. I should have listened to Nigel.

Malcolm’s favourite cake in all the world is coffee and walnut cake. So why not indulge him for his birthday? I made one a while back, and it was just as it should have been – rich and indulgent, with a moist crumb, but not too sickly sweet. How could I have forgotten that it was Nigel who delivered, as he invariably does, the Tips That Matter? I turned to another book, a BBC book for heaven’s sake, which is normally pretty reliable. My instincts told me it was wrong. The size of tin relative to the mixture, the heat of the oven – everything. But I decided to go for it in every particular: you don’t argue with the Beeb.

And of course I shouldn’t have done. The two layers were too thin to rise into a satisying mound of comforting coffee-infused sponge, the quantity of icing advised would have filled and decorated enough cakes to fill the WI stall at the farmer’s market. I was unimpressed. Malcolm’s being too polite to say so, but he did venture to point out that Nigel is King in this house, and his recipes should always be first port of call.

Here’s his recipe. I’ve just this minute compared it with the one I made. And would you believe, the two are all but identical?  Extraordinary.  Jut reading a recipe by Nigel seems to make it succeed.

It’s rare for me to follow recipes to the letter.  Like Nigel Slater, I tend to adapt, substitute, tinker.  So what I’ve learnt from this is that instincts are there to be heeded.  If a recipe seems wrong, it probably is.  For you, anyway.  On that particular day, at least.

The failed coffee cake. It can't be all that bad.  We'll eat it.
The failed coffee cake. It can’t be all that bad. We’ll eat it.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

12 thoughts on “Coffee and walnut cake – the failure”

  1. Coffee and walnut is Alec’s favourite cake too, and yes, Nigel is most definitely king. Wish Malcolm a belated happy birthday from us both.


    1. Thank you! It would be good to see you sooner rather than later as well. And what’s happened to your blog? I enjoyed it, and learnt from it too.


  2. Blimey, wish my ‘failures’ at baking looked that good! I’m a pretty capable cook but when it goes to baking then everything goes cuckoo. Oven too hot? Oven too cold? Hot hands? Who knows but even the wonderful Nigel hasn’t been able to save me.
    However, in the recent National Trust magazine there was an article on their best selling cakes that go like ………errrrr – hot cakes in their tearooms. The article included recipes, I tried the lemon drizzle cake and it worked! Carrot cake is going to be attempted next weekend, and there’s a coffee and walnut recipe there too!


    1. Oooh, I have a fail-proof recipe for carrot cake, so let me know if you need it – it’s not on the net. What a good lady of the WI you’re turning out to be!


  3. Happy Birthday Malcolm! The cake does look delicious – so you must have done something right.


  4. Belated Happy Birthday Malcolm – hope she gave you a day off from the bathroom! I’m with Penny I wish my failures look that good.


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