Crunchy Top Coffee Cake.

Camping it up.

Our American cousins have a saying – coffee in England is just toasted milk. I think that may be a case of many a true word being spoken in jest, but I’m sure that I’ve mentioned before about the difficulty in getting coffee cakes to actually taste like coffee. So when I noticed that the coffee component of this cake was originally supposed to be provided by instant coffee granules I was less than enthusiastic. I’ve had enough disappointments in that department thank you very much. So for this recipe I decided to go back and give Camp coffee essence another try. Now Camp is not exactly cheap. I paid around £1.61 for a 241ml bottle from the local supermarket. But when you think about it, the little bottles of vanilla essence and the like are usually about £1 for 38ml. Because the Camp coffee is a fairly big bottle it’s not going to run out any time soon. You are really getting quite a lot of bang for your buck. And besides. The quest for a decent coffee cake can be a long and weary process. So it’s good to know that Camp coffee is just like the real thing. It will keep you going right when you need it.

Camp Coffee
Yo Ho Ho And A Bottle Of Yum.

If you liked it then…

I think this recipe was originally from one of those recipe sharing websites. You know the ones. Where people who like the idea of baking (but not so much the actual baking) gather to ogle photographs of other people’s cakes and comment on how much they like the photographs of other people’s cake. They might even give them ratings. Marks out of ten or stars out of five. Not many of them seem to go to the bother of making the recipe for themselves though. I believe that Gordon Ramsay calls it gastro-porn. Each to their own I guess. But it does seem a shame to miss out on the enjoyment of trying them for yourself. Anyhoo. This bake was supposed to be a bonny little coffee sandwich cake with coffee frosting. Nothing massive. Coming in at around 20cm it would probably be good for a spot of afternoon tea with your chums. If it was up to me I would probably have left it that way. But my old Ma is not exactly a fan of frosting. She does however love a good coffee cake. And seeing as this cake was for her I would have to jiggle the recipe around a bit. I decided to bake the cake base all together in the one tin. I would also need to come up with an alternative for the coffee frosting. An encasement replacement, if you will.

Crunchy Top Coffee Cake 5
Campsite for sore eyes?

…You should have put meringue on it.

Being from Yorkshire I have a touch of the penny-pincher about me. It’s a blessing and a curse. I am a stickler for not throwing anything away. My freezer is like a frosty graveyard for random bits and bobs that I am waiting to put to good use. If I’m going to eat an orange I will zest it first with a fine grater and pop the zest in the freezer for future cakes. If there is a banana that is in danger of getting past it’s best I will mash and freeze it. The same goes for egg whites. If I’ve used the yolk making pastry or summat, the white goes in the freezer for another day. I generally build them up until I have about six and then make a delicious batch of friands. It can be a pain trying to remember to defrost the egg whites in advance but it’s a small price to pay to make sure that there is no waste. And in this instance, having those egg whites on hand meant I had the perfect solution to my frosting problem. A crunchy meringue topping. Excellent. Or should that be egg-cellent.

Crunchy Top Coffee Cake 7
Phat Camp.

A tin to bake it in.

The tin I used for this bake was a 23cm square cake tin. Nothing fancy. It was a bit on the shallow side though. I was lucky that I only made a two egg-white meringue. It wasn’t nearly enough for this size of cake but at least it meant the cake didn’t end up decorating the bottom of my oven. I have written the recipe out below exactly as I made it. But if you wanted to bake this cake you might want to try making a couple of small changes.

  • You would be wise to double the amount of meringue. I know I go on about being Yorkshire. But the one thing you don’t want is for your guests to think that you’ve been stingy with the topping. It’s the best bit.
  • And you must. Must. MUST. Use a 23cm cake tin that is DEEPER than the one I used. It will want to be 10 cm or thereabouts. Mine nearly overflowed with the lesser amount of meringue so you will need lots of extra room for the lots of extra topping. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Thanks in no small part to the Camp coffee, this turned out to be a flavourful coffee cake that got the thumbs up from everyone. Five stars. Try and eat it quickly though if you can. The meringue topping won’t keep for long so don’t expect it to sit there indefinitely in your cake tin. This would be a great cake if you are feeding a small crowd. I’m sure they will all eggs-press their gratitude. And leave as happy campers. Now here’s that recipe… Enjoy.

23cm Square Cake Tin.
Too Shallow 23cm Square Cake Tin.

Crunchy Top Coffee Cake.


  • For the meringue:
  • 2 Large Egg Whites.
  • 100g Caster Sugar.
  • 1 tsp Camp Coffee Extract.
  • 24g Walnuts or Pecans (chopped finely, optional).
  • For the cake:
  • 170g Margarine.
  • 170g Granulated Sugar.
  • 3 Eggs.
  • 180g Self Raising Flour.
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder.
  • 1 tbsp Camp Coffee Extract.

    Crunchy Top Coffee Cake 1
    Crunchy Top Coffee Cake.


  • Position a shelf in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 23cm cake tin so that the greaseproof paper overhangs on two opposite sides.
  • To make the meringue: beat the egg whites until stiff. Gradually add the sugar beating continuously until fully combined and glossy.
  • Using a large spoon, fold in the coffee extract and chopped nuts until evenly distributed. Set aside until later.
  • Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  • Sift in the flour and baking powder. Gently fold together until just combined using a large spoon, taking care not to over mix.
  • Fold in the coffee extract until properly combined, taking care not to over mix. Scrape down the bowl as necessary to make sure there are no streaks.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
  • Spoon the meringue mixture over the top and spread out into an even layer. Try not to level the surface too much, leave little peaks and troughs if possible.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool completely in the tin. If necessary, run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake before carefully removing to a serving tray.

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