Vegan walnut cake with coffee frosting

Vegan walnut cake with coffee frosting

vegan walnut cake coffee frosting

A big Friday slice of vegan walnut cake with coffee frosting anyone? Walnut coffee cake is one of my firm favourites as it combines my two loves…Nuts and coffee. I’ve been dreaming of making it for a while, but I have somehow managed to stop myself throughout the whole of January as I was trying to curb my insatiable sweet tooth.

I succeeded but I kinda failed too as instead I got myself quite addicted to a particular type of slightly salty dark chocolate and whenever I am in my local supermarket, I instinctively grab at least 5 bars at a time. Don’t panic, I don’t inhale them all in one sitting and Duncan helps A LOT, but they don’t exactly last me for ages either…So it’s sweet tooth 1, Ania 0.

This vegan version of a classic cake is dedicated to Duncan’s cousin, Sydney who confesses to loving this flavour combo as much as I do. Plus she is generally a lady after my own heart and loves any good cake, lucky she lives nearby, right? She sometimes pops round for tea or to taste test stuff for the blog.

When she was here this week, I roped her into walking our cat, Tina. Something that has earned me the nickname of a ‘helicopter mum’. Okay, I haven’t completely lost my marbles. I try to accompany Tina in our garden to give her more confidence to face the bully cat next door I wrote about a couple of posts back.

Syd and I were standing outside, ‘praying’ for the sunshine while Tina investigated the garden. Sydney was rocking a hot cup of tea in one hand and a fluorescent super soaker in the other – a device we acquired to dampen the other cat’s enthusiasm for trying to rip poor Tina’s head off. We haven’t had to use it yet, but I fear that it may come in handy as that cat is relentless and even me standing around Tina does not stop him from chasing her away from her own backyard.

So while Syd, the super-soaker and I had probably more fun than petrified Tina, we managed to get her out of the house, chasing some leaves in the wind, feeling the sunshine on her face and getting her confidence up. She has started asking to be let out now, even if it’s only for 5 minutes or so, instead of running away and hiding whenever I open the conservatory door, so I think that my plan is working and it forces me to take a breather from my work too. Plus, I love seeing how happy she is once she forgets about the bully cat and starts enjoying herself outside.

vegan walnut cake making

vegan walnut cake icing

vegan walnut cake cross section

16.5 cm / 6.5"
30 min
65 min
16.5 cm / 6.5"
30 min
65 min
COFFEE ‘BUTTERCREAM’ (make it a day ahead if you can!)

  • 120 ml / ½ cup maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
  • 3 tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 2 tsp warm water
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • 16 g / 2 tbsp refined coconut oil, melted
  • 300 g / 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight*
  • 30-60 ml / 2-4 tbsp plant milk (optional, see instructions)

Dry ingredients

  • 200 g / 1½ cups + 1½ tbsp** all purpose white flour
  • 100 g / 1 cup finely ground walnuts
  • ½ heaped tsp baking soda
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 175 g / ¾ cup + 2 tbsp caster sugar

Dry ingredients (gluten-free version)

Wet ingredients

  • 240 ml / 1 cup plant milk, lukewarm
  • 60 ml / ¼ cup brewed coffee
  • 60 ml / ¼ cup melted refined coconut oil (or other mild tasting oil)


  • coffee beans
  • walnuts, halves and chopped


COFFEE ‘BUTTERCREAM’ (make it a day ahead if you can!)

  1. Put maple syrup, dissolved coffee, vanilla extract and melted coconut oil at the bottom of a blender. Add approximately one quarter of the drained cashews (discard the water) and blend until super smooth.
  2. Proceed to blend the cashews until super smooth, quarter by quarter. If your blender is getting stuck and breaking an air pocket that tends to form under the mixture of the surface with a spatula does not help, add a touch of plant milk, but no more than 2 tbsp of thin milk (like almond) or 4 tbsp of thick, full fat coconut milk. This should help your blender churn the thick mixture.
  3. Refrigerate for a few hours, ideally overnight, for the mixture to thicken and for the flavours to develop.


  1. Set the oven to 170° C / 340° F (150° C / 300° F fan forced). Grease a 16.5 cm / 6.5″ spring form round tin.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the remaining dry ingredients (ground walnuts, baking soda and baking powder) and fine caster sugar. Mix everything well.
  3. Add all the wet ingredients and fold them gently into the dry ingredients. If using gluten flour, please take care not to overmix as otherwise the cake will be tough.
  4. Fill the tin with the batter – it should be thick but still pourable – and place in the preheated oven for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Let the cake cool down completely before removing it from the tin and cutting it into two round slices with a serrated knife.


  1. Put a layer of cashew frosting on top of the bottom slice. You may want to sprinkle some chopped walnuts on top of the icing at this point.
  2. Place the second slice on top and frost the top of the cake and the sides (optional) with more cream.
  3. Decorate with chopped walnuts and coffee beans (remove these before consumption).

*If you forgot to soak your cashews overnight, soak them in boiling water for 30 minutes or so (the longer the better) before blending.

**1½ cups of all purpose flour is only 188 grams so adding an extra 1½ tablespoon (12 g) is required here if not using metric measurements.

28 g
19 g
6 g
7 g
55 g
*per serving
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16 reviews, 46 comments
to jest najpotężniejszy tort świata i u mnie jest już na każde urodziny,każdej bliskiej osoby,każdy go chce i nie ma mowy o innym!Moja 9letnia córka też jest fanką!
    Jak mi strasznie milgo to slyszec, dzieki Ania!! I dzieki za recenzje, bardzo doceniam. x Ania
Hi, Dear Ania!
The other day I was craving for some rich flavor chocolate cake and I combined your cake with chocolate ganache and choc mousse. And the result was perfect! The cake is moist and full of flavor. I baked it in 22 cm spring form and it was enough for 2 layers, thickness of 1,5 cm.
Thank you for all your hard work. Your recipes are reliable, so you are in my top 3 bloggers.
Sorry for my english!
    Aw, thank you so much for your lovely words about my work, Ivana! I am so happy that you enjoyed this cake and it sounds so special combined with a chocolate mousse! I really appreciate you taking the time to write this review, thank you (and your English is perfect, nothing to worry about)! x Ania
Hi just wondering can I substitute the cashews for macadamias and also the buckwheat flour for almond flour ?
    Hi Paula,
    Yes, pretty sure that macadamias will work just as well, but not so sure about almond flour, especially that the cake includes nut flour (walnuts) already so the may come out heavy. Feel free to experiment if you wish but I cannot assure you that it will work. Ania
I am going to try this one... yay!
Want to print the recipe.... but I would like to include a picture in the print. Is that possible?
    Great to hear, I hope you'll enjoy this cake! Unfortunately, it is not possible for the time being, but it's on our to-do list. Cheers, Ania
This looks so good! How far ahead of time can I make it?
    A day ahead would be fine, any more than that, it will get stale. Hope that helps! Ania
Great reliable cake recipe! Just made this to celebrate my younger sisters' exam results and it went down a treat! The coffee flavour is strong enough and the nuts in the batter make for a wonderful crumb; I'll be trying this approach for all my cakes from now on! Thanks for sharing the recipe :))
    Thank you so much, Elenia! I'm delighted to hear that this cake went down so well with you and your sister (congratulations to her on her exams!!). And thank you for taking the time to leave this review - I really appreciate it! x Ania
I’ve made this cake twice now and it is an absolute winner. Honestly the texture, easy to make recipe and the taste is super! I was longing for my gran’s coffee cake and this hot the spot (and more). Thank you!
    Aw, thanks so much Mandy! I'm delighted to hear that it was such a hit with you! x Ania
Cake was amazing 😍 even my non vegan husband 😩 said it was probably the best cake I have ever baked.. then I told him it was vegan 🌱
I just love following this Lady, such an inspiration on my plant based journey
    Aw, thanks so much for your kind words, Laura! So happy to hear that both you and enjoy husband enjoyed this cake and thanks so much for taking the time to leave this review - much appreciated. x Ania
This cakes looks amazing and I can't wait to make it. I can't find a 6.5 inch springform pan anywhere. If I use a 6inch springform pan, do I have to adjust the baking time? Thanks!
    Hi Nicola,
    It shouldn't have much of an impact, I don't think. It might take a tiny bit longer as the cake will be taller. Hope it works out well. Ania
Meital Cohen:
This cake is fantastic!!
I made the gluten free version and it is just so successful!!!
I can't even taste the buckwheat!
The only slightly 'adverse' taste I have is the baking soda a little bit... maybe the lemon juice I used was not acidic enough to negate it? Would you suggest to swap the baking powder and soda maybe on my next trial?
Also - I had applesauce I had to use up so I ended up swapping 40g of the oil into appleasauce and then using an additional 20g rapeseed oil! Definitely thought this was a risk but it worked!!
I am also a huge fan of you banana buckwheat cake!!!
You are an amazing recipe developer!!!
    Hi Meital,
    I am so pleased you enjoyed this cake and thanks so much for letting me know, that means a lot! As for the baking soda, you are completely right that reducing it is a good idea. I made this more recent version for my husband's birthday recently and I used heaped 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder for roughly the same amount of flour and it rose beautifully. I will amend this recipe now and I am sorry I have not caught this earlier. x Ania
Thank you so much for this recipe! Just baked it for my husband's birthday tomorrow, it's going to kill me not being able to try it all day! Of course I tasted a bit of the frosting and the batter and HOLY MOLEY have you done a beautiful job here! Thank you again x
    Aw, I am soooo pleased to hear that! I hope your husband will love it too! x Ania
Thank you Ania, I just wanted to say I did both versions of the cake with the extra ingredients and it was well received :) Thank you for an amazingly simple and hassle-free recipe!
    Yay! I'm delighted to hear that, Janet! And thank YOU for taking the time to rate the recipe – much much appreciated! x Ania
Hi Ania, I found your recipe whilst searching for vegan and gluten free coffee and walnut cake and this looks amazing. I like that the ingredients list is quite short. I do have a few questions though.
1) Can I substitute the ground walnut for ground almonds or just use more buckwheat (for gluten free version) or normal white flour (the other version)?
2) If I wanted to make a bigger cake (I don't have a loaf tin or 16.5cm tin) do you think this recipe will work well if I doubled the ingredients or added an extra half of each ingredient?
Can't wait to give this a try!
    Hi Janet,
    1) Yes, you can use ground almonds instead - that's the safest bet!
    2) Sure you can make a bigger cake, depending on the size of your tin increase the amount of all the batter ingredients by say 25%, 50%, 100% and you may possibly have to bake it for a touch (not much) longer too.
    Good luck!
I made this cake last weekend, and my non-vegan husband is requesting it for his birthday cake. Everyone loved it! It’s nice to have something different.
    Aw, that is lovely to hear, Andrea! Thank you for taking the time to leave such a nice feedback! Ania
Hi! This cake looks so great and I’m hoping to try it, but I’m wondering if there’s a way to make it refined sugar-free? Could I sub in honey for the sugar? Thanks!!
    Sure, you can use coconut sugar instead. I am not sure about honey as it isn't vegan, which means I never use it. I am pretty sure you could also use maple syrup, but it requires the overall volume of moisture to be taken down a bit and I don't want to be guessing. Ania
Dear Ania,
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It was the first time I tried making a layer cake, but you made it simple to follow! It turned out delicious and everyone enjoyed it! I mixed extra coffee in the milk for the cake batter and it worked out great. I am curious to try this with hazelnuts some time. :) Thanks again for this amazing vegan recipe! <3
    I'm delighted to hear that, thank you, Madhu! Ania
I've made the frosting but it seems crumbly. I can't get it smooth. Do you think a hand blender would help?
    Scrape the mixture to the bottom of the blender and add a touch more plant milk, tablespoon by tablespoon. I also have this trick to get it smooth, but please use it at your own discretion: When the mixture becomes very thick and heavy your blender may struggle to turn. To remedy this, start making circles on the surface of your mixture (in the direction of the turning blades) with a spatula to prevent air pockets forming under the mixture’s surface. Be careful not to dip the spatula in too deep as you don’t want to accidentally touch the turning blades. If you follow the technique I’ve described above, there should be enough moisture in this recipe to turn the cashews into a smooth and creamy frosting.. I have not tried using a hand blender but it's worth a shot. Hope that helps! Ania
Made this cake yesterday and it was a big hit! Today it is even tastier! Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe! Happy New Year, by the way :) Greetings from Brazil!
    Thanks, Patricia! I'm so glad to hear that! Happy New Year to you too! x Ania
Hello--could you tell me why you chose buckwheat for the gluten free version? I have run out of the gluten free AP blend, and need to buy more anyway, so am considering using it instead of also purchasing buckwheat. Also--what are the dark bits in the cake, from the walnuts?
    Hi Alisha,
    You can safely use gluten-free cake mix (especially if it has worked well in the cakes you've made in the past). I like buckwheat flour and it's healthy so that's why I used it. Yes, the dark spots are from walnuts. Hope that helps! Ania
Hi Ania, I made the frosting for this cake earlier and it looks a bit curdled, I’m not sure what I did wrong, maybe too much coffee as I didn’t use granules as we have a bean machine. Do you have any tips on how to salvage the frosting? It’s in the fridge at the moment so I was wondering if I could add anything to it to give it a smoother texture?
I only found you on Instagram on Saturday, your recipes look amazing!
    Hi Debbie,
    When you say 'curdled' - do you mean split? I am not sure, maybe a splash of hot water would have helped straight away, but not sure it will now and it will affect the consistency of the frosting. Sorry, I am not really sure exactly what you mean? Ania
Made this for the first time today as a rainy Sunday afternoon treat. Beautifully simplistic and absolutely delicious - it has turned out even better than I could have hoped. Not sure if others will relate, but being fairly new to veganism, I’ve had more misses than hits with baking in my journey so far - this one falls firmly into the ‘hits’ category! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom :) x
    Yay! I am so delighted to hear that, Jess! Your kind words made my day!! And congrats on joining our vegan ranks, that's so cool. Ania
Any way to make this creative masterpiece GF?
    Hi Molly,
    Yes, there is - I included GF version of the cake in the recipe. Please take another look. Ania
Emily Hansen:
Oh, thank you so much for the suggestions, Ania! I would definitely give them a try (and also I'll let my husband taste the original recipe and see his reaction😛)!
    You're welcome! Hope it will be enjoyed by all! Ania
Emily Hansen:
This cake looks really tasty, Ania. I would love to give this recipe a try this week. I'm just wondering if you can suggest any ingredient that could substitute cashews in this recipe? Something that could blend well with the other ingredients. I'm planning to make two batches of this but the other one must not have any cashews in it since my husband doesn't like them. Your recommendations will be much appreciated.
    Hi Emily,
    This is a tough question as it isn't easy to make a delicious and fairly healthy (not sure if that's a concern for you) vegan frosting without cashews, I'm afraid. You could try silken tofu and some refined coconut oil / vegan butter to stiffen it, but I am not a massive fan as I find it to have a funny aftertaste that is hard to conceal when it comes to subtle flavours. You could also try a more traditional frosting with a vegan cream cheese if you found a brand that you like the taste of (I haven't found one in the UK as yet) or finally vegan butter and icing sugar frosting, but that's not healthy at all. Hope that helps! Ania
    PS: you cannot really taste cashews in this frosting at all (I tested it on a few omnis and they were none the wiser) so perhaps don't tell you hubby what's in it :P
This cake looks superb Ania.. Im going to make the gluten free version as I actually have some buckwheat flour.. The pics looks like it has choc chips in it, or are they the walnut pieces? 💞
    Thanks, Karen! I hope you'll enjoy it. Yes, they are simply pieces of walnuts :) Ania
LOOKS GREAT! I have some Q's -
What is caster sugar? -I checked your glossary but not there
So regular baking powder has gluten? I had no idea!
So I have Red Mill GF all purpose baking flour -- it's made with garbanzo, tapioca, fava bean,and white sorghum flours, and potato starch. This ought to work, right? Thanks!
    Thanks, Renne! Here are my replies: caster sugar (also known as castor in some countries) is the type of sugar with fine particles that is used for baking (it's not in the glossary as it's not a specialist vegan ingredient). The gluten-free mix you have should work fine, but it MAY affect the flavour a bit. For example, garbanzo flour has a pretty strong flavour, although I assume the manufacturer formulated the product so that the flavour is neutral. Hope that helps! Ania
Heather Leckie:
This cake looks delicious but can you tell me what the dark bits are in the cake. Chocolate? Coffee beans? Can't find any mention in the recipe. Also, is there coffee in the atual cake or just in the frosting?
Cheers , can't wait to make (and eat) this one!
    Hi Heather,
    The dark bits in the cake are ground walnuts after they have reacted with sugar present in the batter, I believe. There is no coffee in the cake itself although you are welcome to replace some of the plant milk with coffee if you wish or simply soak baked cake with some coffee. Hope you'll enjoy it if you decide to make it. Ania
Ginny Jenkins:
Don't know what I would do without you Ms. Ania. I am a new vegan and its been difficult learning to find and make dairy substitutes. Your blog sure has helped. I have yet to try anything however for fear of messing it up but I truly love seeing all of your beautiful effortless photos. I have a facebook cooking page called "Ginnys Whole Foods Kitchen" but I really need to work on the whole foods part. Thanks again for your dedication to a vegan lifestyle and inspiring others to do the same.
    Aw, thanks so much, Ginny! That's so lovely to hear! Try this cake, it's really difficult to mess up! x Ania
When I saw this recipe in my email inbox, I clicked on it immediately, wanting to see your latest creation but certain it would be too complicated for me to make. But you've made it so simple! And that "buttercream"? Oh, my. I might have to double that portion of the recipe. :) I can't wait to try it this weekend. Thank you for another wonderful recipe.
    Thanks, Judy! Yes, I tried to make it as simple as I could so you can make the batter in a single bowl :) Glad you are planning on making it and I hope you'll enjoy it!! Ania
Hi Ania
This looks amazing - my mouth is already watering! I can’t eat coconut products unfortunately so what could I use in place of the coconut oil in the coffee buttercream? Or can I just leave it out? Would agar agar maybe work to thicken? Thanks so much, Caitlin x
    Hi Caitlin,
    Thank you, I am glad to hear that you are thinking of making it! As for coconut oil, you are right, it is used to set the cream. Agar will most definitely work instead, but if you have flakes it needs to be activated first (I'm sure you know that anyway). I would start with 3 tsp flakes or 1 tsp powder. Alternatively adding a quarter cup of vegan butter will do too. Hope that helps! Ania
      Hi Ania, I made this cake yesterday and it turned out beautifully! Thank you for the tip about the agar - it worked a treat. Thanks again for all your hard work on this blog - it really is one of the best out there. X
        Aw, thank you so much for your kind words, Caitlin! I'm delighted to hear that it worked so well for you. x Ania
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