Friday, 22 October 2010

Chestnut and Coffee Cake

This week’s cake is a subtle blend of chestnut flavours over four layers with a sweet coffee ‘kick’ inside. It’s quite a grown up cake; with a nutty texture, layered with sweetened chestnut puree, a strong central coffee cream and covered in a light coffee butter cream.

It's different to a standard coffee and walnut cake; what you get is far more subtle and sweet.  I would recommend this rich cake with a cup of coffee, a sunny autumn day and at least 15 minutes of daydreaming.

Prebake week – When you purchase your ingredients decide whether to make your own marrons glacé, purchase or leave them off the top altogether. I found them useful for portion control (!), as well as decoration. You should get 16 slices of cake from this recipe.  I enjoyed using the steeping method where you just left the cooked chestnuts in their boiled syrup overnight. Reboil again and leave to dry and, for this cake, I put them on the next day when they had cooled. There are lots of recipes on the net to try; I don’t know why we pay such high prices for these in the UK, have a go, it’s really easy.

8oz (225g)  Butter
8oz (225g)  Golden caster sugar
4                     Large eggs
8oz (225g)  Self raising flour
2 tsp              Instant coffee dissolved in a tbsp of hot water or
                        coffee essence
7oz (200g)  Cooked chestnuts

For the Icings:

Chestnut Icing
4oz (110g)  Chestnut finely ground (3oz – 90g if using tinned
8oz (225g)  Icing sugar

Dark Coffee Icing
1oz (25g)     Butter
4oz (110g)   Icing sugar
2tsp               Instant of coffee/or less but go for the stronger
                       contrast taste dissolved in 2 tsps of hot water

Light Coffee Icing
3oz  (90g)    Butter
12oz(340g)  Icing sugar
1 tsp               Coffee essence (or instant coffee dissolved in water.)
                         Water – add a little at a time to achieve a spreadable
Preheat oven to a moderate temperature 160c/140c Fan/325F/Gas Mark 3. If you find your cakes are browning too quickly turn down another 20 degrees.
Grease 2 sandwich cake tins, if you want to cut the cakes in half, for your four layers or grease four tins and divide mix up accordingly. I like using my false bottom 7 inch cake tins and I add greaseproof paper at the bottom as well.
In a blender (I use a Magimix with a Sabatier blade) chop up the chestnuts into small pieces. Put to one side.
Cream the sugar and butter together, whisk in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour, and then fold in the chestnuts

The prickly beasty on the side is the real McCoy, a chestnut from our woods but if that is not for you; go to Porter Foods, which are also stocked at Waitrose.
Divide into two cake sandwich tins or four tins. You can weigh each one to make sure you have the same weight of mixture in each one for even bakes. Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 15-20 minutes. Cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. Allow to cool and make icing.

Lovely chestnut texture showing through.
Take the 3 types of icing ingredients and make each one separately.  If you have used two cakes cut them in half and spread the centre with the Chestnut Icing. Put cakes on separate plates. On one of them spread the Dark Coffee Icing and place the other half on top. 
Tips: If you have cut into fresh cake you will find it quite crumbly to ice, simply place these in the freezer when cool, for 10 minutes before you want to ice them, helps firm up the outside. For a smoother finish you can use 4 tins.

Spread the second layer with the Dark Coffee Icing

Now you are ready to coat the whole cake with the Light Coffee Icing.  Decorate with marrons glacé or as desired.


I found many recipes that used the traditional chestnut substitute for flour but I wanted more of an Austrian layer type of cake suitable for decorating.
I also experimented with the mix just using chestnut puree but found that it was not as interesting as having the chestnut pieces in the texture. The cake is very simple to make but give yourself time to make the icings, as the contrasts in light and strong flavours are the key to this original recipe.


  1. I know this is a super old entry, but I just wanted to post that I really liked this recipe (as did my Mum). I made it for her birthday, and, I used GF flour as I cant have gluten, and because I only had 100gm of fresh chestnuts, I did half and half with chestnut puree in the cake. It was amazing if I say so myself. Thank you!

    1. Thank you ! I'm so glad you both enjoyed the cake and great to hear it worked well as a GF version. Quite fancy a slice myself now :-)