Lusciously moist and lightly infused with espresso, this dense coffee cake is a definite crowd-pleaser. A mixture of brown sugar, toasted pecans, and butter is used as a filling and also as a topping to add extra flavor and texture. An espresso–cream cheese glaze reinforces the coffee theme. The cake is baked in a 9-in/23-cm springform pan with a small ramekin set in the center—an easy alternative if you do not own a baking pan with a removable tube insert. You can make this tempting confection a day ahead, but you’ll need plenty of willpower to resist sneaking a bite!
8 tbsp/115 g unsalted butter, chilled and
diced, plus more for the pan
2 cups/255 g all-purpose flour
2 cups/400 g light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup/85 g pecans, toasted (see cooking tip,
page 55) and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup/240 ml buttermilk
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tbsp instant espresso dissolved in 1 tbsp
1 tsp vanilla extract
Creamy Espresso Glaze:
3 tbsp milk, plus more if needed
1 1/4 tsp instant espresso powder
3 oz/85 g cream cheese at room temperature, broken into small pieces
1/3 cup/35 g confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and espresso
powder until the espresso has dissolved. Add the cream cheese.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the mixture
until blended, and then gradually beat in the confectioners’
sugar. The glaze should be smooth and thin enough to drizzle
over the coffee cake. If too thick, thin with 1 tsp or more of
- Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/gas 4. Butter the bottom and sides of the springform pan and then cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Place the paper in the pan and then butter the paper. Butter the sides and bottom of the ramekin and place it, right-side up, in the center of the pan.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the diced butter and rub the mixture between your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Remove ѕ cup/115 g to a small bowl and add the chopped pecans; set aside.
- Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the large bowl with the flour mixture and stir to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, dissolved espresso, and vanilla and then stir them into the dry ingredients just until well blended. The batter should be quite thick.
- Ladle half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture over the batter. Repeat with the remaining batter and nut mixture. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until a tester inserted into the area around the ramekin comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Cool the cake to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Then run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Run the knife around the outside of the ramekin to loosen it from the cake. Gently remove the ramekin and the sides of the pan. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar, drizzle the glaze over the top, and serve.
by BETTY ROSBOTTOM