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Grandad's Coffee and Walnut Cupcakes

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

Like a freshly ground cup of coffee, these cupcakes are a true moreish treat.

For the last few years of his life, my Grandad suffered from vascular dementia, and so this week is an important one for me.

I would love to use this week to raise awareness for dementia and get as many people donating to this worthy cause as possible.

I chose to make this cupcake because my grandad would always order the coffee and walnut cake when in a coffee shop. Even if the gluten free version was the only one available, he would pick it over any other.

When he passed away from Covid in January, we were unable to hold a wake after his funeral, and spend time with friends and family. So I made these in his honour. We raised a glass and ate these cupcakes, while reminiscing, so I wanted to share them with you on the Caking It blog.

They were so comforting on that really difficult day, so whenever I make these they remind me of him, and I hope when you eat them you feel comforted too.

The nuttiness of the walnuts marbled throughout the sponge compliments the richness of the coffee and sweetness of the caramel and buttercream. They're a comforting and delicious flavour combo.

I top my cakes with a single caramelised walnut, which I do by melting sugar in a saucepan, then drizzling over toasted walnuts that have been laid out on a baking tray, and letting cool before handling.

These cupcakes are a winning combination and I encourage you to have a go at these because they really are so easy and the results are delicious!

Here's to you, Grandad, and your great taste in cake!

I encourage you to get involved in the Dementia Action Week activities, download their resources, sign their petitions, or donate directly on the Alzheimer's Society website.

Let's get Caking It.



180C (170C fan)

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep: 30 mins

Bake: 20 mins

Assembly: 15 mins



175g unsalted butter

175g caster sugar

4 medium eggs

2 1/2 tbsp instant coffee to 2 tbsp boiling water

175g gluten free self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp xanthan gum

100g walnuts, chopped

1 tbsp sour cream



150g unsalted butter

400g icing sugar

1 1/2 tbsp coffee & 1/2 tsbp cocoa powder to 2 tbsp boiling water



Method: Sponge

Don't forget to wait until all the ingredients are room temperature before starting.

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Fill 12 muffin holes with cases.

  2. Boil water and mix 2 1/2 tbsp instant coffee with 2 tbsp boiled water. Let sit until room temperature.

  3. Chop 100g walnuts and spread them out on a baking tray. Toast them in the oven for 5 minutes on a high shelf at 180C.

  4. With a fork, cream the butter until pale, then add the sugar and cream together until fully incorporated.

  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing with an electric whisk between each addition. Now add the coffee and mix.

  6. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, bicarb, and xanthan gum with a fork, and then add this to the batter, mixing until fully incorporated.

  7. Add the chopped, toasted walnuts and fold until fully incorporated.

  8. Spoon in the sour cream and fold until combined.

  9. Spoon 2 tbsp of the mixture into each muffin case.

  10. Let the mixture sit in the cases for 20 minutes before placing in an oven for 20 minutes. A skewer or toothpick inserted into the cupcakes should come out clean.

Method: Buttercream

This buttercream is the perfect topping for the nutty, rich coffee sponge.

  1. While they are cooling, move onto the coffee buttercream. Boil water and mix 1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee and 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder with 2 tbsp boiling water. Let sit until room temperature.

  2. Cream the butter until pale, and gradually add in the icing sugar until it is all incorporated. You can do this either with a standing mixer, an electric hand whisk, or a fork. At this point the mixture should be a little stiff.

  3. Slowly pour in the coffee while beating until a rich pipeable mixture is formed.


  1. Making sure the sponges are completely cool, scoop out the middle of the cupcake with an apple corer, taking care not to go right down to the bottom.

  2. With a teaspoon, fill the middle with a good dollop of caramel.

  3. Pipe on a good layer of the buttercream, and top with a whole, toasted walnut.

  4. For an extra flourish, you can caramelise your walnuts by melting 50g white caster sugar in a saucepan until a dark brown colour forms, then quickly cover the walnuts in it. Be quick, as the sugar will soon start to harden, and be careful you don't touch the sugar as it will be very hot. Leave to cool and then top your cupcakes.

  5. Enjoy!

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