Mocha and Hazelnut Cake

As soon as I saw this cake in the Autumn Edition of the BBC Good Food Magazine I wanted to try it.

If you like coffee cake or mocha’s, you will like this cake. I’m not a massive fan of coffee cake, yet I really enjoyed this and I didn’t find the coffee too overpowering, despite the amount of espresso which goes into it.

Liking hazelnuts is also an essential requirement of this cake, it contains a lot of them. The flavours are a natural combination, the chocolate and hazelnut topping really adds to the sponge layers and compliments the coffee buttercream. I was tempted to try Nutella in the middle, instead of the buttercream. I think I will try that another time.

I will be honest, this cake requires more effort than most recipes on my website. I did however make it on a day when my pain levels were higher than normal and I nearly ran out of steam, most people will probably find it more than manageable. BBC Good Food do categorise it as a cake that requires more effort.

I only had normal hazelnuts, not the blanched hazelnuts the recipe lists. They were fine to use but once I had toasted them I had to peel all the shell off, otherwise it would have flaked off in the cake. Having blanched hazelnuts, or blanching them yourself would avoid this.

The original recipe says to toast the hazelnuts , which I did by placing them in a frying pan for 3-5 mins until they started to brown, being careful not to burn them. The recipe doesn’t tell you to toast the hazelnuts for the cake and topping together but doing so saves time, so that’s what I have advised below.

I couldn’t find hazelnut oil anywhere so I used groundnut oil which seemed a good alternative. I did find it needed cooking for longer than the recipe stated, mine was just baked in the centre at 45 minutes but looked baked on top at lot earlier than this so it was quiet deceiving.


55g (2oz) unsalted butter melted and cooled, plus extra for the tin

125g (4.5oz) plan flour plus extra for dusting

5 tsp instant espresso powder

115g (4oz) dark chocolate

100g (4oz) blanched hazelnuts

375g (13oz) light brown sugar

¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tbsp milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

115g (4oz) soured cream

3 tsp vanilla extract

50ml hazelnut or groundnut oil

For the buttercream filling

1 tbsp instant espresso powder

100g (4oz) butter

150g (5oz) icing sugar, sieved

For the topping

30g (1oz) blanched hazelnuts, toasted

¾ tbsp instant espresso powder

3 tbsp light brown soft sugar

75ml double cream

50g (2oz) dark chocolate 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line the bases of two 20cm cake tins then dust well with flour and tap out the excess.
  2. Break the chocolate into a small bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted, then remove from the heat, to allow to cool.
  3. Put the 130g (4.5oz) of hazelnuts (for both the sponge and topping) in a frying pan over a low heat until they are just toasted. Let them cool slightly before blitzing 100g (4oz) in the food processor. Set the remaining 30g (1oz) hazelnuts to one side for the topping later on.
  4. Mix the espresso with 250ml boiling water, then leave to cool.
  5. Combine the ground hazelnuts, sugar, flour, a good pinch of salt and the bicarb.
  6. With an electric mixer, combine the eggs, soured cream, vanilla, butter, hazelnut oil and the cooled espresso in a separate bowl or jug.
  7. Gradually add the egg mixture to the sugar mixture, using the mixer on a slow setting, until the mixture is combined and smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat for 15 seconds.
  8. Divide the batter between the tins (it’ll be quite thin at this stage) and bake for 40-45 mins. Check the cake is baked by inserting a knife into the middle of each cake, which should come out completely clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then run a knife around the edge and turn the cakes out onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely before icing.
For the buttercream
  1. Dissolve the espresso powder in 1 tbsp boiling water and leave to cool. Beat the butter and icing sugar in a mixer or by hand in a bowl, gradually adding the cooled coffee.
  2. Use a palette knife to spread the buttercream over the top of one sponge.

For the topping

  1. Place the cream, espresso powder and sugar in a pan and gently heat whilst stirring it to help the sugar and coffee dissolve.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate in broken pieces. Stir to melt until smooth. Leave to cool until thickened.
  3. Roughly chop the hazelnuts from earlier.
  4. Place the top layer of cake onto the bottom layer and cover with the glaze. Scatter the hazelnuts on top.

If you decide to bake this Mocha and Hazelnut cake, please let me know how you get on. You can reach me via my social media pages or contact me.

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