Sourdough Coffee Cake

This month’s Sourdough Surprises challenge is coffee cake!

According to the website coffee cake gets it’s name not from having coffee in it, but being served with coffee, and generally isn’t frosted. Sorry America, but that’s a tea cake you’re talking about. Coffee cake has coffee, and definitely has frosting!

As Oscar Wilde wrote: We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

I did have a look at the Pinterest inspiration board, but in my mind I was imagining a lovely coffee and walnut cake, with lashing of coffee cream icing both in the middle and on top, and these dry teacakes weren’t inspiring me.

While I was moaning to Soph about this transatlantic translation trouble, she was flicking through the August 2015 issue of BBC Good Food magazine, and turned the page to find a coffee, cardamom and walnut cake on page 101. Now that does sound interesting!

I’ve decided to use my rye starter, as I think it’s flavour will work best with the rest of the cake. However my rye starter is 200% hydration, and the cake doesn’t have much easily replaceable liquid, as most of it comes form egg whites. However they’re not whisked up, so they’re not providing much structure, and the cake looks pretty dense, so I think I’m OK to replace some of them, along with some ground almonds and self-raising flour.


  • 320g icing sugar
  • 80g ground almonds
  • 80g self-raising flour
  • 80g roasted walnuts
  • 1 tsp ground coffee
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 200g refreshed rye starter (200% hydration)
  • 140g burnt butter


  • 2 Tbsp clear honey
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 1 double espresso (60ml)
  • 60ml water

Coffee Cream Icing

  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 140g icing sugar
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 30g maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground coffee
  • Extra walnuts to top

So I start by setting the oven to 170C fan and lining my 23cm brownie pan with the removable sides.

Then I brown the butter, mix the dry ingredients, lightly whisk the eggs, and weight out the refreshed rye starter. Mise en place!


I mix in the eggs first, then starter, and finally browned butter. Then the (very liquid) mix is poured into the pan.


This goes into the oven for 30 minutes, during which time I make the syrup.


The cake sets up nicely from the liquid it started out as.


Half the syrup gets spooned over the cake now.


The cake cools in the tin (next to some sourdough rye dakos rolls I’m making at the same time!).


Why is the cake cooling inside a prison cell? Because someone has a very sweet tooth and will rip her way through cloches to get at cakes…


Once cool it goes in the fridge, still in the tin.

Ages later… it’s time to make the icing.  Beat sugar, coffee & butter, then mix in cheese bit-by-bit. Mix in maple syrup.


Slice cake.


More syrup.




Sandwich, icing & top with walnuts.


Syrup on bottom middle, icing on top middle, sandwich. Icing on top, nuts on top.

Then it’s back into the fridge AGAIN before we can taste it…

IMG_20150815_201007And MMMMMmmmmmm – that’s delicious. Really strong coffee flavour, with a lovely sour undercurrent from the sourdough.

Would make again. :)


Check out the the other Sourdough Surprises coffee cakes (or probably tea cakes!)

8 thoughts on “Sourdough Coffee Cake

  1. I’m always confused by the name “coffee cake” too. I always want to add some coffee to it since I love coffee flavoured desserts. That said, give the Americans a break. Your tea cakes don’t have tea in them either.
    Your cake looks pretty delicious!


  2. I love how we have different names for things! LOL But whether you drink tea or coffee, you gotta have cake with go with it! Your cake looks awesome, I definitely want a slice or two! Love the combination of coffee, walnut and cardamom! Also love the cage for the cooling cakes. LOL


  3. I’m interested in baking this recipe but I’m a little unclear as to whether you used 100% hydration rye starter (as per your preamble, “I’ve decided to use my rye starter…However my rye starter is 100% hydration) or 200% hydration (as per the recipe, “200g refreshed rye starter (200% hydration)”).
    Thank you!


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