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Cappuccino Cake

Forget traditional cappuccino; you need to try this decadent Cappuccino Cake! It’s rich with coffee flavors, perfectly tender, and extravagant enough to serve on any special occasion. 

So, if you’re a coffee lover or know one, this is the recipe for you!

Cappuccino Cake with a slice on a plate and remaining cake in background.
Here’s a showstopper!

Just like my Espresso Brownies, Coffee Cookies, and Italian Tiramisu, this Cappuccino Cake is loaded with the intense flavor of coffee. You’ll love the soft and sweet layers of coffee cake paired with the smooth and creamy Coffee Buttercream. Every bite is heavenly!

This Cappuccino Cake is such a gorgeous layer cake. I have been making this recipe for years and love serving it for special occasions because it’s a perfect centerpiece for the dessert table. I can guarantee it will leave your guests wanting more!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Coffee flavor – you’ll love that this cake has a rich and strong coffee flavor. This will be no doubt from your guests that this is a Cappuccino Cake!
  • Celebration cake – this beautiful two-layer Cappuccino Cake is definitely a showstopper. It is the perfect cake for special occasions and celebrations. 
  • Step-by-step instructions – never made a layer cake? Not to worry! I have included simple instructions to make this recipe easily achievable for all baking levels. 
  • Moist and tender – unlike other coffee-flavored cakes, this Cappuccino Cake is never dry. Instead, the cake crumb is perfectly soft and melt-in-your-mouth tender. 

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe as in the recipe card.
  • Instant coffee granules – Freeze-dried instant coffee granules or instant espresso powder. 
  • Hot water – This doesn’t have to be boiling; it should just be hot enough to dissolve the instant coffee granules. 
  • Unsalted butter – If you only have salted butter, you can use that and omit the additional pinch of salt. 
  • Sugar – Granulated white sugar is best for making this Cappuccino Cake. 
  • Eggs – My preference is always large, free-range eggs.
  • All-purpose flour – also known as plain flour. 
  • Whole milk – For extra richness and moisture, I recommend using whole milk for the best results. 
  • Baking powder – Don’t use expired baking powder; your cake won’t rise correctly. If you have any doubts, buy new baking powder. 
  • Vanilla extract – don’t use vanilla essence, as it is a synthetic product and doesn’t have the same wonderful taste. 
  • Salt – a little salt in baked goods always brings out the flavors. 

Instructions

Before you begin, preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Butter two 8-inch (20cm) round pans, line the bottoms with non-stick parchment paper and flour the sides. Set aside.

Then, in a medium size bowl, dissolve instant coffee granules or powder in hot water. Stir in the milk and vanilla extract. Whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. 

A egg cracked onto creamy butter mixture.

Beat butter and sugar until creamy and light. Add the eggs one at a time.

Pouring brown liquid into creamy mixture in a stand mixer bowl.

Add the flour mixture alternating with the milk mixture beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Cake batter divided into two round cake pans.

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.

Powdered sugar being spooned into bowl containing creamy butter mixture.

Make the buttercream by beating the butter until light and gradually adding the powdered sugar.

Small amount of dark liquid on creamy butter mixture in a bowl.

Finish the buttercream by whisking in cooled, strong coffee.

Buttercream being spread on a cake with a palette knife.

To finish the cake, place one layer on a serving plate and spread half of the coffee buttercream over it. Top with the second cake layer and the remaining coffee buttercream.

Dust with cocoa powder. Serve immediately or chill for an hour or two.

Substitutions

  • Whole milk – substitute with your preferred plant-based milk or even lactose-free milk. 
  • Unsalted butter – if you only have salted butter, you can easily substitute it. Just be sure to omit the pinch of salt from the recipe. 
  • Vanilla extract – you could use vanilla bean paste or even scrape the seeds from a vanilla pod instead. 

Variations

  • Mascarpone Cream frosting – try filling and topping this delicious Cappuccino Cake with my easy Mascarpone Cream instead of my Coffee Buttercream 
  • Crunchy texture – sprinkle some diced walnuts or almonds over the coffee buttercream as a garnish. Not only is it pretty, but the crunchy texture is so satisfying!
  • Intense – Looking for an intense coffee flavor? Use instant espresso granules instead for a richer and more intense taste. 

Equipment

An electric stand mixer or a handheld electric mixer is essential for this cappuccino cake. You’ll also need two 8-inch or 20-cm cake pans, along with the usual baking equipment staples like spatulas, bowls, and measuring cups. 

Storage

This cake is best served as soon as it has been frosted. However, it will keep for 2-3 days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Top tip

Two layer cake filled and topped with buttercream.
  • Don’t forget to preheat your oven! It’s a crucial first step for baking success. Get to know your oven and how long it takes to reach the desired temperature.
  • Dissolve the instant coffee powder or granules completely in hot water to evenly distribute the flavor in the cake batter.
  • For the best results, having all ingredients at room temperature is important. This helps the butter become fluffy and white when creaming and ensures the eggs blend in smoothly. 
  • Take care when measuring the flour using cup measures. First, be sure to stir the flour to loosen it, and then spoon it into the cup measures without packing the flour in. Use the edge of a knife to level it off. If you have kitchen scales, this is preferable for accurate measurements.
  • Don’t skip cooling the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes. When cakes first come out of the oven, they are very delicate and can break easily if you attempt to turn them out. Just a short cooling time allows the cakes to set and become more firm.
  • If the cakes have domed on top during baking, trimming off most of the domed tops is a good idea so that the cake is stable and doesn’t topple over. To do this, use a long, serrated knife and wait until the cake layers are completely cold. Just trim off the most domed area, keeping the top level.
  • For an easier frosting experience, consider chilling your unfrosted cakes overnight. It’s not essential, but it will make things easier! Chilled cakes become firmer, allowing you to trim them neatly and frost them with greater control.

FAQ

What is cappuccino cake made of?

My Cappuccino Cake is flavored with instant coffee powder and sweetened white sugar. It’s a beautifully soft and tender cake made with basic ingredients like butter, eggs, flour, and milk. 

What ingredient makes a cake fluffy?

It’s not just one ingredient but a combination of ingredients! The process of beating eggs into the butter and sugar mix adds air to the batter, giving the cake lift. Plus, a little baking powder gives this Cappuccino Cake a perfectly soft and fluffy texture. 

Can you over mix cake batter? 

Yes, you can, but you can also under-mix cake batter. To get a perfectly mixed cake batter, it’s important to follow my Cappuccino Cake instructions and remember to stop mixing once all the ingredients are combined. 

Serving Suggestions

Close up of a wedge of two layer cake filled and topped with buttercream.

I love serving this Cappuccino Cake as dessert at the end of an Italian feast, featuring my Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells, Mediterranean Cucumber Salad, and Grissini Breadsticks

If you are looking for more sweets to serve, make my delicious Chocolate Puff Pastry and cannoli cake recipe to go along with this recipe.

If you love this Italian Coffee Cake, be sure to try my Italian Rum Cake!

Overhead view of a two layer cake filled and topped with buttercream with slices cut out onto plates.

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake
Chocolate Orange Cake
Chocolate Cake with Caramel

Made this recipe?
Please let me know if you liked it by leaving a ★★★★★ star rating and a review below. And remember to subscribe to my newsletter – it’s free!

Close up of a wedge of two layer cake filled and topped with buttercream.

Cappuccino Cake Recipe

This Cappuccino Cake consists of soft, sweet layers of coffee cake paired with smooth and creamy Coffee Buttercream. Every bite is heavenly!
5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Review
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings:12 generous serves
Author: Marcellina

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 ½ cups (312 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks/225 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • cup whole milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Coffee Buttercream

  • 1 cup (2 sticks/227 grams) unsalted butter softened at room temperature
  • 2 ½ (300 grams) cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons hot water

Instructions

  • For best results, have all ingredients at room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Line the bottoms of two 8-inch (20cm) pans with non-stick parchment paper, butter, and flour the sides, and set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl, dissolve instant coffee granules in hot water. Stir in the milk and vanilla extract and set aside.
  • Whisk or sieve together all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside
  • Beat butter and sugar until creamy and light.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Reduce the mixer’s speed to low. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Using a rubber spatula or butter knife, spread the batter evenly. Tap the pans on the bench once or twice to help flatten and break any large air pockets.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You may need to rotate the pans once during the cooking to ensure they bake evenly.
  • The cakes will be done when they are firm enough to touch on top, have started to come away from the sides of the pan slightly and have a skewer inserted in the middle to come out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then place a wire rack over the pan and flip them out one at a time. Using another wire rack, invert the cakes onto their bottoms. Allow to cool completely.
  • While the cakes are cooling, prepare the coffee buttercream. Instructions below.
  • When cold, level the tops of the cakes if they are slightly raised in the middle.
  • Place one cake layer on a cake plate or stand.
  • Spread half of the coffee buttercream evenly over the cake.
  • Top with the second cake, bottom side up.
  • Spread the remaining coffee buttercream evenly on the top of the cake.
  • Dust with cocoa powder similar to the top of a cappuccino.
  • Serve immediately or chill for an hour to set the buttercream.

Coffee Buttercream

  • In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee granules in hot water. Set aside to cool.
  • Use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer to beat the butter until creamy and light. This could take 4-5 minutes.
  • In the meantime, sieve the powdered sugar if necessary.
  • Turn the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar to the butter a few spoonfuls at a time. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • When the powdered sugar has been completely combined with the butter, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Stop the mixer and add the cooled espresso mixture. Beat on high speed for a minute or so until thoroughly combined.

Notes

Tips for Success
  • Preheat the oven.
  • Have ingredients at room temperature.
  • Dissolve the instant coffee granules or powder thoroughly.
  • Measure carefully, especially the flour.
  • Be gentle with hot cakes – they’re delicate!
  • Trim the domed cake tops.
  • Chilling the cake layers can make frosting easier if you’re less experienced.
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 499kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 129mg | Potassium: 216mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 1047IU | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

This updated and improved recipe was first published here on January 8, 2011.

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Recipe Rating




21 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    What a delightful cake! It was perfect on Sunday for our Mother’s Day dessert. Thank you!

  2. What a great cake. It sounds delicious! I’m so glad to find your blog and will be following for more great recipes!

  3. It sounds delicious, and perfect any time of year (or day). Enjoy the holidays, and catch a bit of sunshine for me – it’s a bit too cold to appreciate it for long here!

  4. This looks divine! I am going to have to try making it…my New Year’s resolution is to eat more dessert!

  5. What a perfect cake to welcome the year with!! So many wonderful ingredients in that cake, I love the espresso, now cut me off a big piece to have with my coffee please! Dennis

  6. Looks like a delicious cake for the new year! Do you happen to know of a substitute for self-rising flour, the proportions to make it from scratch?

  7. Happy new year, Marcellina! This is a delicious cake that fits the holiday season everywhere around the world!

  8. Ooh what I would do for a slice of that cake! I’m trying to eat healthier and being tempted by such coffee goodness is hard 😛

  9. Hi Marcellina….first of all..your Italian is very good!!! May you have a special happy new year and thanks a lot for this delicious cake…. I copy it immediately, hugs, Flavia

  10. Hallo Marcy! This is a wonderful cake! Vedi cara…ci veniamo incontro…un pò di inglese e un pò di italiano!Baci e buona giornata

  11. Happy New year and happy holiday season too! That is a wonderful cake to celebrate this glorious time of the year, well for you I am in winter mode lol.