The Story of a Cake

Here’s my gluten free coffee and walnut cake. It’s more than just a cake; it’s a trip down memory lane. It starts at a  cafe called UMU that I used to go to weekly up in Coromandel Town when it was my day off from cooking at the beautifully remote Mahamudra Retreat Centre… and takes in Milwaukie and NYC. Here’s the story;

A week ago, On Food52, I came across this recipe for a gluten free cake based on coconut flour and ground almonds. I’m always on the look out for GF cakes as I often cook for groups which inevitably these days include one or more people who say they are GF. The Food52 author, posting from New York, quite generously admitted that she took it from the back of a packet of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour (based and milled in Milwaukie)! I baked it a few days ago and thought the texture was brilliant, but it lacked oomph. (On the other hand, if you’re after a GF cake that tastes like cake – butter, sugar, eggs and hint of vanilla – here it is!!)

Then today, the memory of UMU’s cake that I used to adore, surfaced. It was a coffee syrup cake, loaded with chopped walnuts, amazingly moist and more-ish. I’d tried before to replicate it, but never with success. Until today!

The Bob’s Red Mill recipe calls for butter, but here I swapped that for coconut oil, and added the coffee and walnut elements, plus a wisp of cardamom. And Bob’s your uncle!

So… whose cake is it?!

Gluten Free Coffee & Walnut Cake


4 double shots espressoDSC02540

3/4 cup castor sugar, divided

3/4 cup of coconut oil

3 eggs

1/4 cup yoghurt (or milk, or dairy free milk)

1.5 cups ground almonds

1/2 cup coconut flour

2 tsp ground cardamom

2 tsp baking powder

large handful chopped walnuts


Heat the oven to 160c, and line a 22cm cake tin.

Make the coffee syrup by heating the espresso in a small pan on the stove with 1/4 cup sugar. Simmer until sugar has dissolved. Let cool.

Melt the coconut oil, then in a food processor blend with 1/2 cup castor sugar until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, then 1/4 cup of the cooled coffee syrup and the yoghurt. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder and ground cardamom. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir in.

Scrape into your lined tin, and sprinkle over the chopped walnuts. Bake in a pre-heated oven (160c) for around 50 mins until a skewer comes out clean. Pour the remaining coffee syrup over the hot cake, and let it cool in the tin – this cake is deliciously moist! Store in refrigerator – it gets even better the second day. I liked it with a dollop of yoghurt on the side.

Thank you UMU – where it all started?




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