Coffee Crunch Cake Recipe

This Coffee Crunch Cake Recipe is a fresh take on a classic San Francisco treat.

Vintage Cakes Cover

"Vintage Cakes," by Julie Richardson, offers recipes from the smallest cupcake to the grandest chiffon.

Cover Courtesy Ten Speed Press

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Vintage Cakes (Ten Speed Press, 2013) — Julie Richardson's newest collection of dessert treasures — offers readers enough cupcake, flips, rolls, layers, and chiffon cake recipes to please any crowd. From the chapter “Flips and Rolls,” this Coffee Crunch Cake Recipe is a new take on a San Francisco classic. Enjoy this spiral cake with friends and family.

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Vintage Cakes

More from Vintage Cakes:
Chocolate Chiffon Cake Recipe
Lemon Almond Cake Recipe

Texas Sheet Cake Recipe

Coffee Crunch Cake Recipe

I have taken liberties here with the famous Coffee Crunch Cake Recipe from Blum’s Bakery in San Francisco. Ernest Weil, the original baker of this delicious cake, developed the recipe in the 1940s. I have turned this classic from a lemon layer cake filled with coffee cream into a chiffon roll, and altered the coffee crunch topping with the addition of finely ground coffee beans. The cake is a cinch to make, so long as you pay attention while you are making the topping, which requires a candy thermometer.

Bake Time: 16 to 18 minutes

Pan: 12" by 16" jelly roll pan: grease the pan with spray, then line with parchment paper, then spray the parchment paper as well.

Serving Size: 10-12

Crunch Topping:
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon finely ground coffee beans
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee

1 cup (4 ounces) sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons Kahlua, or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

To make the crunch topping, first generously oil a large baking sheet and set it near your stove. Sift the baking soda into a bowl and whisk in the ground coffee beans. Set this mixture near the stove as well. In a tall and heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and brewed coffee over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring and cook the syrup until it reaches 290°F. As the temperature creeps up toward 275°F, give it an occasional stir to prevent the bottom from burning. Once the temperature reaches 290°F, remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda and ground coffee. The syrup will foam up wildly, but keep stirring until the baking soda and ground coffee are completely mixed into the syrup. While it is still foaming, pour the syrup onto the greased cookie sheet. Although it is tempting, do not spread it out! Allow the crunch to sit for an hour to firm up. Once it’s hard, place the crunch either in an airtight plastic bag or between two pieces of parchment paper. Pound a rolling pin over the bag or paper to crush the crunch into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the easier they will be to cut and eat later. The crunch can be made up to a week ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 325°F.

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 3/4 cup of the sugar into a large bowl, then whisk to ensure the ingredients are well mixed. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, yolks, water, and vanilla. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and briskly stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is just smooth. Do not overmix.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a clean whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and gradually increase the speed to high, whipping until the whites just form soft peaks. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Return the mixer to high speed and continue whipping until the whites just begin to hold firm, shiny peaks. Fold about a third of the whites gently into the batter using as few strokes as possible, then add the remaining whites and fold only until evenly combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and place the pan in the middle of the oven. Bake the cake until it springs back when gently touched and is lightly golden, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool the cake on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature.

To make the filling, place the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer in the freezer for 5 minutes to chill. Meanwhile, whisk the espresso powder into 1/2 cup of the heavy cream until dissolved. In the cold bowl of the mixer, whisk all the heavy cream (including the coffee-flavored cream) with your mixer on medium-low, gradually turning up the speed to high. When the whisk begins leaving tracks in the cream, add the sugar in a steady stream and whip just until there are soft—not stiff—peaks. Add the Kahlua or vanilla and whisk until blended.

To assemble the cake, keep the cake in the pan and spread half of the coffee cream evenly over the cake, leaving 1/4 inch around the edges. Orient the pan so one of the short sides is closest to you. Lift up the edges of the cake and the parchment paper on this shorter side. Using the parchment paper as the cake’s support, begin to tuck the cake into a curve and continue tucking (and peeling away the parchment paper) while gently rolling the cake away from you into a spiral from one short end to the other. Don’t worry if the cake cracks a little; you will cover it with more coffee cream. Transfer the cake, seam side down, to a serving platter. Trim off the ends of the roll and frost with the other half of the cream. Refrigerate the log for at least one hour or up to 3 days lightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Just before serving, remove the log from the refrigerator and coat it with coffee crunch.

Well wrapped and refrigerated, the cake (minus the crunch) keeps for up to 3 days. The moisture from the cream will cause the crunch to become chewy, so it’s best to eat the whole cake within a few hours after coating it with the crunch topping.

Reprinted with permission from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson and published by Ten Speed Press, 2012. Buy this book from our store: Vintage Cakes.