Secondly, I knew Rachel was partial to coffee and walnuts. I gathered all ingredients and the baking commenced.
Recipe (adapted from '100 Cakes and Bakes' by Mary Berry)
For the cake:
225 g softened cubed butter
225 g caster sugar (next time I might try adding brown sugar to see if the cake turns out more caramelly (technical term!)
4 large eggs
225 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee mixed with 1 tbsp hot water
50 g walnuts, chopped
For the praline:
2 tbsp water
50 g caster sugar
50 g walnuts
For the icing:
90 g softened butter
250 g icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 1/2 tbsp hot water
You'll need two shallow sandwich tins - Mary recommends 20 cm in diameter and 4cm deep loose based tins. I used two 20cm tins without removable bottom and lined them up with baking parchment using a method I spotted at Miss Igs blog and I'm happy to report it worked a treat!
Grease the tins and line with baking parchment.
Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer for 5 minutes until pale.
Mary's method for the cake involves putting all the ingredients together and mixing them, but I was a bit scared to go for it, hence the step by step method.
Add your coffee flavouring. And yes, you guessed it. Beat some more.
Now let's take a tiny break from baking. Check out these 4 pictures.
After another 10 attempts: voila! A tsp of baking powder.
Mix it with self raising flour.
Chop some walnuts and add to the mix.
Once all ingredients are incorporated divide them evenly between two tins
and bake until golden for 30-35 minutes. Once they are ready leave them to cool.
While the cake is baking make the praline. Get the walnut halves ready. Line a small baking tray with greased baking paper and set aside.
Gently heat sugar and water in a small pan. Once it starts bubbling watch the pan closely. Try not to stir the mixture too much.
Once it starts turning golden brown take off the heat, add walnuts, mix to coat and transfer to the greased parchment you prepare earlier.
Leave to cool completely, then break into smaller pieces. Leave the nicest ones to decorate the cake and chop the rest finely. Set aside.
Now make the buttercream icing. Place butter and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl and add the coffee mix. Now use a clean tea towel and place it over your bowl and mixer - unless of course you want half of your kitchen covered in sugar! Beat the icing until smooth.
Now assemble the cake: place one half on the serving plate, cover with some buttercream and sprinkle with chopped praline pieces you set aside earlier.