Java-Lovers' Favorite Coffee Layer Cake Recipe

Coffee in a cup & in a cake? Don't mind if we do! From java-filled layers to brown sugar-espresso icing, this is the ultimate cake recipe for coffee addicts.

Updated December 26, 2023
coffee-flavored layer cake

For all the coffee lovers out there, have you ever wished for a cake that captured the flavors of your favorite beverage? Well, we've got you covered. We love a good cup of joe and even more so when we have a fluffy cake to go with it. So why not get a double dose of coffee goodness? We promise that you won't regret it. 

How to Make a Delicious Coffee Layer Cake 

This recipe captures all the delicious layers of coffee, including a delightful whipped buttercream topping. Serving size 8 to 12 servings

Ingredients For Dark Cake Layers

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ⅔ cup cold strong coffee
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon powdered cloves
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Ingredients For Light Cake Layers

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown Sugar Coffee Frosting Ingredients

  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or instant coffee 

Cake Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat four 8" round cake pans with cooking spray, or grease them with butter and sprinkle with flour. Place a round piece of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan.
  2. First, make the two dark layers. In a large mixing bowl, cream the brown sugar and shortening with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time.
  3. Beat in the coffee and molasses.
  4. Sift the flour with the baking powder, spices, and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk until combined.
  5. Beat the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Divide the batter evenly between two of the cake pans and set them aside.
  6. Next, make the two light layers. Cream the vegetable shortening with the sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. In a third bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.
  7. Beat the milk and vanilla into the sugar mixture. Add the dry ingredients in two batches, beating after each addition. Finally, gently fold in the egg whites just until combined.
  8. Divide the batter between the two remaining cake pans.
  9. Bake the cake layers for 25 to 35 minutes or until they are springy on top and pass the toothpick test.
  10. Let the four layers cool thoroughly before icing them with the brown sugar frosting (see below) and stacking them alternately.
Quick Tip

Easily turn this coffee layer cake into an ice cream cake. Substitute buttercream frosting for slightly defrosted ice cream and stack them alternately. Allow ice cream cake to freeze for 4-6 hours. 

Frosting Instructions

  1. Combine the brown sugar and water in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. As the mixture warms, add the shortening, vanilla, and instant espresso.
  2. Boil the frosting until it reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove the frosting from the heat.
  3. Transfer the frosting to a large bowl and beat the mixture with an electric mixer until it is creamy, fluffy, and near room temperature, which may take up to 10 minutes.
  4. Spread the frosting thinly between the cake layers and on top of the finished cake before serving.

A Delicious Cake to Go With Your Favorite Beverage

While this isn't your traditional coffee cake, you can get away with it and serve it with a warm, hot cup of coffee. Whether you're hosting a brunch or celebrating a special occasion, this coffee-infused cake is pure joy in a single bite. 

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Java-Lovers' Favorite Coffee Layer Cake Recipe