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How to make the perfect coffee and walnut cake

There are two types of cake in the world: the rich, sophisticated gateaux best eaten in delicate slivers after dinner; and the homely, comforting kind that, if push came to shove, most of us really prefer. The latter are the sort of cakes your granny might have made (if she lived in Ambridge), the ones sold on paper plates wrapped messily in clingfilm at the village fete; in short, the cakes you imagine the sainted Mary Berry probably eats for breakfast.

As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of this humbler, homelier kind of cake. The feather-light Victoria sponge, the nutty carrot and the sticky fruit cake all have a special place in my heart, but after much soul searching I’ve come down in favour of the coffee and walnut.

It has got everything: the fluffy butteriness of the Victoria, the crunchy nuts of the carrot and the bittersweetness of a rich, dark fruit cake – all that, and buttercream too. No wonder the infallible Nigel Slater has chosen it as his last meal on earth.

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