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Coffee Layer Cake

Coffee…doughnuts…cake! What!!! Your gonna love this coffee layer cake that’s soaked in a coffee soaking syrup, then frosted with a coffee flavored Swiss meringue buttercream that’s light and fluffy. To take this cake to the next level, I added a coffee flavored glaze on top, and finished this Coffee Layer Cake with doughnut holes! 

Coffee Layer Cake

Coffee Cake

This coffee cake batter can be baked in many ways. In a 10-inch Bundt pan, baked for 40 to 45 minutes, on a 13×9-inch sheet pan, baked for 20 to 25 minutes or in cupcake pans (makes about 24 cupcakes), baked for 15 to 20 minutes.

You can also substitute the oil in this recipe with equal parts unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, about 75 degrees.

Coffee Layer Cake

Coffee Soaking Syrup

Soaking syrups are a fun way to add an extra punch of flavor and to give your cake an extra shot of moistness. Substitute the liquid in this recipe with root beer, stout beer or cola to add fun flavors to your cakes.

Coffee Layer Cake

Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss meringue buttercream is my favorite frosting to use. It’s smooth, and silky and less sweet than bakery style frostings. There was a time in my baking career that I was scared of this frosting. It never worked out for me until I found some helpful tips in books and online. Here are a few tips that have helped me be successful every time I make Swiss meringue buttercream.

  1. Make sure your mixer bowl is super clean! There should be no traces of grease. And be sure your egg whites are free of yolk.
  2. Stir the egg whites and sugar together well, or your eggs will start to cook on their own and then you’ll have breakfast and not buttercream 🙂 
  3. Use a candy thermometer to take the guess work out of it.
  4. Cutting your butter up in tablespoon pieces helps to gradually add the butter to your egg white mixture. If you add it all at once your buttercream will collapse. 
  5. Make sure your butter is room temperature, about 75 degrees. If your butter is too cold or too warm your buttercream will break. 

Coffee Layer Cake

Coffee Glaze

Coffee Glaze couldn’t be easier to make. It’s just powdered sugar and coffee whisked together. This glaze firms up quickly so make it just before you’re about to use it. Once firm, it will be shiny and dry to the touch. Coffee Glaze can also be used on bars and cookies!

Coffee Layer Cake

Plan It Out

Since this recipe has several parts I like to break each part up and schedule them on different days. Here is an example of what my schedule looked like while making this Coffee Layer Cake.

Day 1: Bake coffee cake layers. Make coffee soaking syrup.

Day 2: Prepare coffee buttercream. Assemble cake. Make coffee glaze. Decorate cake.

Coffee Layer Cake

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Adapted from Cake Magic by Caroline Wright and Layered by Tessa Huff

Coffee Layer Cake

Coffee Layer Cake

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Homemade coffee cake layers, soaked with a coffee soaking syrup, frosted with a coffee Swiss meringue buttercream and topped with a coffee glaze and doughnut holes.




  • ½ cup (1.5 ounce) sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ½ cups (12.5 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups(10.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • ¾ cup sour cream at room temperature, about 72 degrees
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature, about 80 degrees
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature


  • ½ cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup coffee
  • Pinch of salt


  • ½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons egg whites
  • 1 ¼ cup (8.75 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces, at room temperature, about 70 degrees
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coffee, cooled to room temperature, about 70 to 75 degrees


  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons coffee, at room temperature, about 80 degrees


  • 8 doughnut holes



  1. Adjust an oven rack to the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray cake pans with nonstick baking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vegetable oil, coffeeand eggs until combined. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined, being careful not to over mix. Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, rotating pans halfway through baking. With the cake still in their pans, poke holes with a wooden skewer over the tops of the cakes. Then, pour the coffee soaking syrup on top of each cake layer and let cakes cool in their pan until room temperature, about 2 hours. Once cooled, invert cake layers on a cake platter or wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container until ready to assemble.


  1. Combine the sugar, coffee and salt together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Store syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before using.


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, pour in the egg whites and sugar and whisk by hand until combined. Fill a medium saucepan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place mixer bowl on top, being sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water and attach a candy thermometer.
  2. Whisking occasionally, heat the egg mixture until the temperature reaches 160 degrees. Once the mixture reaches 160 degrees, transfer to a stand mixer and beat the mixture on high speed for 10 minutes or until medium-stiff peaks form. At thisp oint the outside of the mixer bowl should be room temperature. Switch out the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment and with the mixer on low speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, and then add the vanilla extract. Slowly add room temperature coffee. Once combined, turn up the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is smooth about 5 minutes.


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and coffee until smooth.


  1. Trim cake domes to create 2 even layers of cake. Place one cake layer on a cake platter, cut side up and spread about ¾ cup coffee buttercream on top. Place second cake layer on top, cut side down. Reserve about 1 cup buttercream for decorating and use remaining buttercream to frost the top and sides of the cake. Pour coffee glaze on top of the cake in an even layer and spreading it around with a large cake spatula, gently pushing the glaze off the edge to form drips. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  Place reserved buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a piping tip and pipe 8 dollops of frosting around the cakes edge. Place a doughnut hole on top of each dollop and serve with coffee.


MAKE AHEAD: Coffee cake layers can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight cake container at room temperature.

Coffee soaking syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.

STORAGE: Assembled cake can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for 1 day, or stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 758Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 645mgCarbohydrates: 84gFiber: 1gSugar: 47gProtein: 10g

*Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary.*

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