Julie Goodwin’s coffee cake with walnuts

With rich walnut and coffee cake layers and lashings of coffee butter cream, it’s the sweetest way to get your caffeine fix.
Julie Goodwin's walnut coffee cakePhotography: Jean Paul Urizar. Styling: Michaela Le Compte.
1H 15M
1H 25M

Whether you’re hosting morning tea or celebrating a loved one’s special birthday, this Julie Goodwin coffee cake makes a stunning dessert centrepiece.

Cake layers can be made a day ahead; store in airtight containers. Candied walnuts can be made up to 6 hours ahead; store in a small, airtight container in a cool place. Cake is best decorated on the day of serving.





Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Grease two 20cm sandwich or sponge cake pans; line bases with baking paper.


Beat the eggs in a bowl with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until pale and creamy. With the motor operating, gradually add the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes. The mixture is ready when it forms “ribbons”. To test, turn the mixer off and lift the beaters; the mixture should form a ribbon or trail across the surface for a moment before it sinks.


Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Stir the walnuts through the flour. Heat the milk and butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove until the butter is just melted. Stir in the coffee and vanilla until the coffee dissolves.


Fold flour mixture through egg mixture, then gently fold in coffee mixture. Divide the mixture between the prepared pans. Place the pans side by side on the centre shelf of the oven.


Bake cakes for about 45 minutes or until golden brown, starting to come away from the sides of the pans and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before turning, top-side up, onto a wire rack to cool.



Meanwhile, beat butter and vanilla in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Decrease speed and gradually add half of the icing sugar until combined. Heat the milk to lukewarm in a small microwave-safe jug; add coffee, stir until dissolved. Beat the coffee mixture into butter mixture alternately with remaining sugar until icing is smooth.



Place the walnuts in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes or until fragrant. Sift the icing sugar over the nuts and stir until the sugar becomes liquid and turns golden. Tip nuts onto a tray lined with baking paper; use the spoon to separate the nuts. Allow to cool; break into pieces.


To assemble, split cakes in half. Spread about one-fifth of the Coffee Butter Cream over the bottom layer. Repeat with remaining cake layers. Spread the side thinly with butter cream and spread the remainder on top. Top with the Candied Walnuts just before serving.

Julie Goodwin's walnut coffee cake

Cake layers suitable to freeze. Milk mixtures suitable to microwave.

If you don’t have baking powder, you can use 1 cup plain flour and 1 cup self-raising flour.

Julie’s notes

This recipe ran in The Australian Women’s Weekly in 2017 and was published online in 2024.

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