express espresso cake

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Imagine a warm night in summer after having indulged in a delicious dinner now having an espresso with a slice of soft & creamy espresso cake!

Although I don’t prepare 2- or 3-layer cakes – don’t even think of 4- or 5-layer cakes! – on a regular basis sometimes I like to try something new… well: if there is a layered cake there’s also an everlasting temptation out of its lusciousness  – and together with the sheer size of the cake there’s always a lot of leftover cake from any event ending up with my better half & me.

I got my inspiration from cardamom coffee cake with bulletproof frosting  (an just amazing title!)  by my name is yeh. Of course it’s a real big cake – far too much for us… so I decided to downsize this cake to get a delicious little something fit to accompany an espresso.


My idea was to transform the cake from a classic round cake into a rectangular cake – meaning: “Das Runde muss ins Eckige!” (as we say in Germany) – meaning how to square the circle with more than 1 dimension (as the scientist says). More to my calculations later…

Let’s start with the preparation!

We’ll have to prepare the cake layers & the frosting before we can finish the espresso cake. For the cake layers we need:

  • sugar
  • flour
  • baking powder
  • egg
  • buttermilk
  • oil
  • freshly brewed espresso
  • vanilla
  • ground cardamom
  • salt.



We need 2 cake layers: therefore we need 2 rectangular cake tins! Yes: it’s easier to bake both layers in one go than to bother with using the oven twice. (If you think of a 3-layer cake or a 4-layer cake you need 3 or 4 baking tins which isn’t a problem for the oven rather for the availability of your baking equipment.)

The greased bottom of the baking tins is covered with baking parchment.



With a handheld mixer we mix together the fluids & the spices; finally we add the sugar…



… and the flour… The espresso is responsible for the milky brown color of the dough.

Half of the dough is for the 1st baking tin & the 2nd half is for the 2nd baking tin.



After about 30 min in the preheated oven we get 2 wonderful cake layers which have to cool down.

Now it’s time to care for the frosting. We need:

  • butter
  • powdered/icing sugar
  • freshly brewed espresso
  • vanilla
  • ground cardamom
  • salt.



All ingredients are mixed thoroughly with a handheld mixer – be sure to put the frosting in the fridge afterwards when waiting for the layer cakes to cool down.



When the cake is really cold then take a knife & level the surface of the cake layers.

Cover the 1st layer with frosting.



Put the 2nd layer on top & cover everything with frosting.

It depends on your liking how generously the frosting will be applied.

If you like you may add some dark chocolate flakes for decoration.


express espresso cake

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 15 - 20 slices

express espresso cake

Imagine a warm night in summer after having indulged in a delicious dinner now having an espresso with a slice of soft & creamy espresso cake!


    for the cake layers:
  • 120 gr sugar
  • 2 packets vanilla sugar OR seeds of a vanilla bean & 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 160 gr flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 125 ml buttermilk
  • 60 ml oil w/o special aroma (like peanut oil)
  • 90 ml freshly brewed espresso (about 2 espresso shots)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • for the frosting:
  • 90 gr butter
  • 210 gr powdered/icing sugar
  • 2 packets vanilla sugar OR seeds of a vanilla bean & 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 35 ml freshly brewed espresso (about 1 espresso shot)
  • pinch of ground cardamon
  • pinch of salt
  • Decoration:
  • 2-3 tablespoons dark chocolate flakes
  • Equipment:
  • 2 baking tins (22 x 8 cm)
  • electric handheld mixer

How to...

    Cake layers:
  1. Preheat the oven to 155 degrees C with fan.
  2. Grease 2 baking tins & cover the bottom with a fitting sheet of baking parchment.
  3. Mix sugar, vanilla sugar (or substitute) & salt.
  4. Mix flour, baking powder & ground cardamom.
  5. Mix egg, oil, buttermilk & espresso w/ a handheld mixer until well combined.
  6. Add sugar mix & mix with a handheld mixer until well combined.
  7. Add flour mix & mix.. (I think you know now..).
  8. Fill the rather fluid dough equally in the baking tins & bake for about 30 min.
  9. The cake layers are ready if a wooden pin comes out w/o sticking dough.
  10. Put the baking tins on a cooling rack, wait some minutes & remove the tins & the baking parchment from the cake layers.
  11. The cake layers have to cool completely - put the cake layers in the fridge when at room temperature.
  12. Frosting:
  13. For the frosting put all ingredients together & mix them thoroughly until very smooth.
  14. Put the frosting in the fridge until the cake will be combined.
  15. Assemble the cake:
  16. Level the cake layers with a knife - it's rather easy because of the rectangular form of the cake layers.
  17. Put the 1st layer on the plate which you intend to use for serving the espresso cake.
  18. Spoon frosting over the layer.
  19. Add the 2nd layer of cake.
  20. Spoon frosting over the layer.
  21. Spoon frosting along the sides of the cakes.
  22. Even the frosting as much as you like.
  23. Sprinkle dark chocolate flakes on top.
  24. Put the expresso cake in the fridge until serving time.


Prep Time: This includes the preparation of the cake layers, the frosting & the assembly of the cake. Any additional cool off times are not included.

Cook Time: It's only the baking time.

The espresso should be cold when processed.

Before starting to assemble the cake make definitely sure that the cake layers as well as the frosting comes out of the fridge & is very cold - however the frosting should be smooth enough for distribution.

It is useful to assemble the cake on the same plate which you'll use for serving to avoid any tricky transportation.

It is recommended to store the espresso cake in the fridge.

...and always remember: This is a homemade cake - not an artistic masterpiece out of a professional bakery/pastry shop.


How to transform a big cake into a smaller cake?
(Yes – it’s again the multi-dimensional squaring-the-circle-problem…)

I started with calculating the cake layers in the original version (round cake with about 20 cm diameter) & in the target version (rectangular cake of 22 × 8 cm). It turned out that the target version was only a little more than 50% of the original: so I took half of any ingredient!

Result for cake layers: ok, fine, perfect fit… I got 2 cake layers as desired!

Then there was the frosting…
I added up all the surfaces that had to be covered w/ frosting for the original version as well as for the target version. It turned out that I’d need about 70% of the original frosting mass which seemed a lot… Taking into account the richness (no – we don’t start counting calories (see rule #1)), but… nevertheless… I decided to take only 50% of each ingredient.

Result for frosting: Although applying the frosting rather generously it was too much! About 25% of the prepared frosting was left over… Therefore I reduced the amount of the ingredients for the frosting once again (see recipe).


For the record:
It’s possible to reduce from a rather large cake to a smaller version (which is also more manageable!) by doing some calculations. As a rule of thumb we can record that a 2-layer cake of 20 cm in diameter transforms into a 2-layer cake of 22 × 8 cm by taking 50% of the ingredients for the cake & about 1/3 of the ingredients of the frosting.



It is a rich cake: you can do thin slices (of about 1 cm!) – especially when stored in the fridge (don’t think about storing anywhere else… unless it’s January w/ temperatures around freezing point & you’ve got a secure space outside…). I think – 1 cm – it’s the right size for a slice of espresso cake made w/ espresso together w/ an espresso in an espresso break.

It’s also useful to work with 2 baking tins to reduce baking time & cooling time…

…and once again: we’re no professional pastry chefs! Especially on food blogs you’ll find lots of artistic layer cakes with exquisite frosting & decoration… and there are these cute videos how to do extraordinary frosting & decoration extraordinarily simply! Don’t buy it! You’ll need a lot of experience & practice to perform like them. So: if you like perfect cakes w/ perfect frosting & perfect decoration order a cake at your trusted pastry shop. Otherwise be proud of your homemade cakes which appear homemade!


The businesswoman with too many office hours thinks

So I’ll need about an hour for any preparations & decorations – I’m definitely not a professional pastry chef: no way with fiddling about frosting & decoration.

If I get almost 20 slices out of the espresso cake this will be enough for a dinner w/ 6 friends. Some may take 2 slices – no problem. About half of the cake will be left afterwards… fine for my espresso breaks during the next week.



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