The perfect pairing of coffee & Baileys in this delicious layer cake. A vanilla buttermilk cake layered with dark chocolate ganache and a coffee Baileys swiss meringue buttercream.
Coffee & Baileys is one of my favourite flavour combinations. While we’re not big drinkers around here, you can bet we always have a bottle of Baileys in the fridge. We don’t drink it on it’s own, but it often gets added to hot chocolate, or coffee, or a variety of baked goods.
It’s been a while since my last Baileys recipe, and I’ve been meaning to do a Coffee & Baileys buttercream for a while. I opted to go with a Swiss meringue buttercream this time, as opposed to a standard American buttercream. The American is easier to make, but I prefer the taste and texture of meringue buttercreams overall. They are much smoother, and not quite as sweet.
I added both espresso powder and Baileys to the buttercream, but you could leave either out if you prefer — you’d be missing out on a pretty delicious combo though!
I wanted to keep the decoration on this Coffee & Baileys Cake clean and simple, so I opted to go with a pretty swirl pattern like I had done before on my Nutella Hazelnut Cake. It’s a really simple way to give a cake a fancy looking finish. The swirls are far from perfect (especially on the top), but I didn’t let that bother me, which is HUGE for me. The old Olivia would have smoothed the whole thing down and started over. The new Olivia clearly has better %^&* to do. It’s supposed to be rustic anyhow!
I pressed in some chocolate flakes along the bottom for some contrast using the same technique I used for my Funfetti Cake. Another simple way to fancy it up a bit.
I also wanted a bit of contrast between the vanilla cake layers and pale coffee Baileys buttercream, so I spread a thin layer of dark chocolate ganache on each layer. I think it adds a nice pop of color, and pairs well with the chocolate flakes on the bottom.
This is one delicious cake! If you’re a coffee and baileys fan, you’ll be eating that frosting by the spoonful. The vanilla cake lets the buttercream flavour stand out, but the buttercream would pair just as well with a chocolate cake if you prefer!
Notes & tips for this Coffee & Baileys Cake:
- Be sure to use espresso powder, not espresso granules in the buttercream. The granules will not dissolve. This is the kind that I use and it works perfectly.
- If you can’t find espresso powder, then you can use espresso granules, but be sure to dissolve them in 1 Tbsp hot water first. Cool completely before using in frosting.
- I get my chocolate flakes at The Gourmet Warehouse here in Vancouver, but these ones seem comparable (though it’s hard to see in the pic).
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, see my tips here.
- If you like this cake, be sure to check out these Baileys Cheesecake Cookie Cups, Baileys Hot Chocolate Bundt Cake, and these Coffee & Baileys macarons!
Coffee & Baileys Layer Cake
- 4 oz good quality dark chocolate finely chopped
- 4 oz heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 6" cake rounds, line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
- Beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (2-3mins).
- Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk). Fully incorporating after each addition. Mix until just combined
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake for 30mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
- Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
- Place chopped chocolate and cream into a microwave safe bowl, stir. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir. Again, microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir until smooth. Cool completely until thickened, ideally overnight.
Coffee Baileys Buttercream:
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.*
- Place bowl over a hot water bath on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 3mins).
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.
- Add Baileys and espresso powder. Whip until smooth.**
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread a layer of ganache and then top with buttercream. Repeat with remaining layers and crumb coat the cake. Chill for 20mins.
** The buttercream may look like it's curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.