Buckwheat Coffee Cake

This isn’t the prettiest of cakes. It’s brown–the most unloved of colours–and has a very different flavour from traditional cinnamon-/chocolate-/fruit-based coffee cakes. But this cake, befitting its sophisticated Italian roots, is subtly elegant, with a bit of cinnamon and a hint of lemon zest. This was originally supposed to be baked in a springform tin, cake-style, cut into wedges, but my lack of such a tin meant that this became moist cubes of buckwheaty goodness. Somehow cubes makes this seem more like breakfast, less like a giant slab of cake. And really, even though there’s a lot of butter and sugar, this wheat-free beauty isn’t too bad for you.

Buckwheat, гречка, is a hearty winter favourite here, especially in its whole-grain form. Really, as a relative of rhubarb, buckwheat is not a grain, but it can be eaten like one with mushrooms, especially at this великий пост (Lent) time, where many Russians aren’t eating animal-derived ingredients like dairy and eggs. This is no good for lent (because of its milk and well-beaten eggs) but the moisture from the ground almonds means that it will stay soft for many happy days, and you could eat it later. I’m rather surprised I haven’t seen too many buckwheat-based cakes here; this one is a goodie.

Buckwheat Coffee Cake (adapted from The Traveler’s Lunchbox)

  • 175g whole almonds (blanched if you want; I used almonds that were roasted with the skin left on)
  • 200g buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300g sugar, divided
  • 180 ml milk
  • 4 room-temperature eggs, separated

Preheat your oven to 175°C. If your almonds aren’t roasted, put them on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely. Grease a 9-inch springform pan or similar-sized baking dish. In a blender, food processor or clean coffee grinder, grind the almonds together with 50g of sugar. In a medium bowl, stir together the ground almonds with the buckwheat flour, salt, cinnamon, lemon zest and baking powder.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and 200g of the sugar. Beat in the egg yolks one by one. Beat in the dry mixture alternately with the milk until everything is well combined.

In a clean mixing bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the remaining 50g of the sugar until you have stiff, glossy peaks. (I got tired shortly before the end point, but I’d suggest making sure they’re nice and puffy.) Stir one quarter of the whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the rest. Pour the batter into the tin/pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for around 40 minutes, covering it with foil if it becomes too dark (this wasn’t necessary for me). When a toothpick comes out clean, take the cake out and put it on a cooling rack for around 10 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with some powdered sugar, if you like.

Field of buckwheat dreams...

Photo courtesy of Echoing Footsteps


One Comment on “Buckwheat Coffee Cake”

  1. Stanislava says:

    It tasted so good. Retained that flavour of buckwheat and melted in the mouth. Some ‘colleagues’ reportedly devoured MOST of it!

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