A last minute birthday cake

It was my Mum’s 81st birthday during the cold snap we had two weeks ago.

And I had banked on a last minute dash to the shops for a present.

But, thwarted by the weather (there was no way my car could make it up the hill in the snow and ice), I had to improvise and thought I’d make a special cake.

My first option was the brilliant Chocolate Raspberry Cake on the Vegan Society website.

I highly recommend it – except for the quantity of oil!

But we didn’t have any cocoa and there are no fresh raspberries in the garden at this time of year…and we couldn’t get to the shops. Damn!

A quick rifle of the cupboards yielded walnut halves and coffee granules and the basic ingredients for a coffee cake.






I got inspiration from a couple of recipes online and adapted them.

I ended up using Tia Maria instead of Kahlua for the icing/filling – we had a bottle of it which had hardly been touched and may be twenty years old!

And I omitted walnuts from the cake itself but used them to great effect to decorate it.

I was really pleased – I think it rose well because of the chemical reaction of the bicarbonate of soda and the vinegar and the flax egg holds it together.

The verdict from my sometimes brutally honest mother was:

“You can’t tell it’s vegan – it’s probably the best cake you’ve ever made!!”

High praise indeed.

I hope you enjoy it.

5 from 2 votes
Coffee and Walnut Cake
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr

Servings: 12
Author: Cath
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 200 g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 240 ml soya milk (or other plant based milk)
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 80 ml olive oil
  • 1 flax egg = 1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp very hot water
For the coffee and walnut icing
  • 320 g sifted icing sugar
  • 20 g vegan butter or margarine
  • 4 tbsp Tia Maria or other booze of your choice
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp plant based milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 15 -20 halves walnuts
For the Coffee Cake
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C or 350F. 

  2. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients - sift the flour then add the sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon.

  3. Make a flax egg by grinding up the flaxseeds in a spice or coffee grinder and combining it in a small cup with three tablespoons of very hot water.  Set aside - it will become jelly like and gelatinous.

  4. Then mix the instant coffee powder or granules with boiling hot water and then add along with the soya or other plant milk to the mixing bowl along with the vanilla, oil, apple cider vinegar and flax egg.

  5. Mix well but don't over mix. I used electric beaters very briefly and then stirred with a wooden spoon.

  6. Lightly grease and line two 7 or 8 inch cake tins with greaseproof paper.

  7. Divide mixture between the tins and then place in oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick or small skewer inserted into the middle one of the cakes comes out clean.

  8. Remove when done and cool on a rack.

For the icing/buttercream
  1. Add the icing sugar, vegan butter or marg and Tia Maria into the bowl of an electric mixer. 

  2. Mix the coffee powder with 1 Tbsp warm to hot soya milk and the vanilla and form it into a paste before adding it in to the bowl and mixing at low speed. Gradually increase the speed until you have a thick smooth icing. Add a splash of soya milk if it's too thick.

  3. Spread half on one of the cooled coffee cakes and sandwich/top with the other. 


  4. Spread the remaining icing on top and decorate with roasted/toasted walnut halves (I toast them in oven but be careful they burn very easily - they shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes)




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