Coffee Layer Cake Recipe

layer cake


For Dark Layers

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

For Light Layers

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 recipe brown sugar frosting, below


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 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. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, spices, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  5. Beat the flour mixture into the wet ingredients in three additions. 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.

Brown Sugar Coffee Frosting

Frosting Ingredients

  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

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 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer, the "soft ball" stage. 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.
Coffee Layer Cake Recipe