Janet Reeves' Coffee Buttercream Cake

Author: Canadian Living

Marina Keeping didn't need to ponder over which of her mother's recipes was her favourite: it's the layered coffee buttercream-filled cake that Janet Reeves, author of One Potato, Two Potato (Ragweed Press, 1987) always made for birthdays. It's rich and buttery, in the style of Eastern European cakes, and even a small slice is enough to satisfy. Reeves, an inveterate recipe collector since the age of eight, got this recipe when she helped out as a teenager in the home of a Polish-born doctor in her home town of Kensington, P.E.I.

  • Portion size 12 servings
  • Credits : © CanadianLiving.com


  • 8 eggs separated
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1/4 cup water
Coffee Buttercream:
  • 4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 3 egg yolks


Cake: Grease three 9-inch (1.5 L) round cake pans. Line bottoms with greased waxed paper or parchment paper.

In large bowl using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar at high speed for about 10 minutes or until thick and very pale yellow, and batter fans in ribbons when beaters are lifted from bowl. Beat in vanilla.

In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir about one-quarter of the egg whites into yolk mixture. Sift about one-third of the flour over batter; fold in gently. Fold in remaining egg whites and flour alternately in 5 more additions, ending with whites.

Divide batter equally among cake pans, smoothing tops. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for about 30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in centre. Loosen edges, turn out onto racks, remove paper and cool. (Cake layers can be made ahead, wrapped and stored for a day at room temperature or frozen for up to 4 months. Let thaw in wrapping before proceeding.)

Dissolve 1 tsp (5 mL) coffee granules in 1/4 cup (50 mL) water and reserve for assembly.

Coffee Buttercream: Dissolve 4 tsp (20 mL) coffee granules in 3 tbsp (50 mL) hot water, let cool and mix in vanilla.

In large bowl using electric mixer, beat butter at high speed until fluffy. Add sugar, one-third at a time, beating until mixture is light. Continue beating, adding egg yolks, one at a time, and coffee mixture, 1 tsp (5 mL) at a time. Cover and chill until spreadable, about 30 minutes.

Assembly: Using long serrated knife split each layer horizontally. Brush cut sides with reserved coffee mixture. Frame large cake plate with 4 strips of waxed paper. Reserve 1-3/4 cups (325 mL) buttercream for top and sides. Place 1 layer, cut side up on plate; spread with about 1/4 cup (50 mL) of the icing. Repeat with layers and icing, ending up with a bottom half of layer set cut side down. Use reserved icing to ice top and sides of cake. Store in large airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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Baking & Desserts

Janet Reeves' Coffee Buttercream Cake