The perfect pairing of coffee & Baileys in this delicious layer cake. A vanilla Baileys cake layered with dark chocolate ganache and a coffee Baileys swiss meringue buttercream.
Coffee & Baileys is one of my favorite flavor 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 its own, but it often gets added to hot chocolate, or coffee, or a variety of baked goods.
Coffee & Baileys Cake
This delicious Coffee & Baileys Cake consists of:
- Baileys infused cake layers
- Coffee simple syrup soak
- Baileys dark chocolate ganache
- Espresso & Baileys Swiss meringue buttercream
I opted to go with a Swiss meringue buttercream as it’s one of my favorite frostings. American buttercream is easier to make, so you could use that instead, 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 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 things 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 wanted a bit of contrast between the vanilla cake layers and pale coffee Baileys buttercream, so I spread a thin layer of Baileys 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.
See my How to make Ganache post for all my tips & tricks.
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 flavor stand out, but the buttercream would pair just as well with a chocolate cake if you prefer!
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I convert this recipe?
- The recipe as-is will also work in two 8″ pans. For three 8″ pans, 1.5x the recipe. Baking time may need to be adjusted.
- To make cupcakes, all you need to do is reduce the baking time — start checking at 15mins or so. The recipe will make 18-24 cupcakes depending on size.
- For other conversions go here.
Can I make it in advance?
- The cooled cake layers can be baked ahead of time, double wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 3 months. Take out 2-3 hours before assembly.
- The frosting can be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for 1 week for frozen for 3 months. Bring to room temp and rewhip before using.
- The ganache can be made a day or two in advance and kept at room temperature. Place plastic wrap directly on top to prevent a skin from forming. Do not refrigerate as it will get too firm.
- The finished cake (whole or sliced, stored airtight) can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Can I get the measurements by weight/grams?
- There is a Metric option in the recipe card. If you click it it will convert everything to grams.
- This conversion is done automatically and I cannot guarantee the accuracy but many readers have had success using the metric option on my recipes.
Tips for this Coffee & Baileys Cake
- ***Recipe Revised Jan 2021*** Increased the amount of cake batter to make thicker layers. Added Baileys to the cake batter and ganache. Added Coffee simple syrup. If you liked the original recipe replace the Baileys with milk and cream respectively. The original recipe used buttermilk instead of milk so you can replace that as well.
- Be sure to use instant espresso powder, not granules in the buttercream. The granules will not dissolve. This is the kind that I use and it works perfectly. Make sure it’s instant!
- If you can’t find espresso powder, then you can use instant 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).
- I like to prepare my cake pans using Homemade Cake Release then line with parchment.
- Be sure to check my Swiss Meringue Buttercream post for tips and troubleshooting.
- See my How to make Ganache post for all my tips & tricks.
- Learn how to keep your cakes moist using Simple Syrup.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, check out my How to Bake Flat Cake Layers post!
Coffee & Baileys Cake
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup milk room temperature, can use buttermilk
- 1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream room temperature
Coffee Simple Syrup (optional):
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tbsp instant espresso powder
- 4 oz good quality dark chocolate finely chopped
- 3 oz heavy whipping cream
- 1 oz Baileys Irish Cream
Coffee Baileys Buttercream:
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter cubed, room temperature
- 1-2 Tbsp instant espresso powder
- 2 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream optional
- 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. Combine milk and Bailleys, 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 milk mixture, 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.
Coffee Simple Syrup:
- Bring sugar, water, and espresso powder to a boil in a small pot over med-high heat. Simmer for 1min. Set aside to cool completely.
- Place chopped chocolate, Baileys, 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 pot with 1-2" of simmering water and stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch or reads 160F on a candy thermometer (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 espresso and Baileys. Whip until smooth.**
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Brush generously with 2-3 Tbsp of coffee syrup. Spread a layer of ganache and then top with buttercream. Repeat with remaining layers and crumb coat the cake. Chill for 20mins.
- Frost the cake and do a decorative swirl with an offset spatula if desired. Add chocolate flakes to the bottom if desired.
Tarn Allen says
This was fantastic! The ganache and syrup make it especially delicious. I can’t wait to make it for my friend who loves coffee desserts.
Hi Tarn! Yay! I’m so happy you loved it 🙂 Let me know if your friend does too!
Recipe calls for 1/4 cup baileys. Do I add it to the buttermilk.? I never mentions…..
Hi Kim! Yes, you mix it with the milk in step #2 of the instructions.
I can’t wait to try this. I had to have a coffee and Baileys while reading the blog! lol
Hi Kathy! I’m definitely having Baileys in my coffee tomorrow! I hope you love this one 🙂
Is it normal for the frosting to take a long time to uncurdle?
Hi Rohilla! It shouldn’t take too long but it depends on how cold your butter was. See this post for all my tips and troubleshooting: https://livforcake.com/swiss-meringue-buttercream-recipe/
Recipe did not work. The cake was dense and the buttercream tasted more like butter than anything. I followed all of the instructions, and ended up throwing the whole thing away.
Hi Hope! Sorry to hear you didn’t love this one. I prefer my cakes on the denser side, but it should not be too dense. If so, it could be due to overmixing the cake batter or expired baking powder. The frosting should not taste like butter. It should be light and fluffy. Was the meringue stiff before you added the butter? If so it probably needed more whipping to fluff it up. It is more buttery than a typical American buttercream though. Here’s a detailed tutorial: https://livforcake.com/swiss-meringue-buttercream-recipe/
Made this! Love it! But somehow the cake turned a little denser. Brushed the cake layers with rum and baileys mixture for more alcoholic flavour…love it!! Nice frosting too and not too sweet!
Hi Lizzie! So happy you loved it 🙂
Looking to make this cake for Thanksgiving! How long can I leave the ganache sit out on the counter for? I know the recipe says overnight, but could I make it two days before?
Hi Jenna! A couple days will be totally fine! Definitely do not refrigerate before use as it will completely firm up.
Hey!! I want to try this cake for a friend’s birthday and live in the middle of nowhere so i dont have access to sprinkles and flakes. Would the consistency of the ganache allow me to give the cake the ‘drip’ effect?
Hi Amie! Yes, it should work just fine for a drip! You may need to warm it slightly if it’s too thick (literally 5 secs in the microwave), but it will work fine. You may want to make more. I’d suggest doubling the ganache recipe so that you have enough for filling and drip.
Hi. Can you use already made coffee instead of instant powder?
Hi Cally! It won’t have as much of a flavour impact. I would make it very strong but only use 1 Tbsp or so in the buttercream.
I loved this recipe! The cake was moist and soft, I added a bit of Bailey’s for flavor instead of vanilla, it was fantastic! Do you have any tips on the buttercream? Mine was very very curdled, and I kept whipping it but it got progressively worse 🙁 I’m about to try again with stiffer egg whites, is there anything else I should watch for?
Hi Remi! So glad you liked this recipe and sorry for the trouble with the buttercream! Swiss meringue can be tricky to work with. I wrote a whole post on it with some tips here: https://livforcake.com/swiss-meringue-buttercream-recipe/
Hi I’m currently making this when you say cool the ganache ideally over night, are you putting it in the fridge?
Hi Taylor! No, I leave it on the counter and then microwave for about 5 secs before using.
Hi Olivia I would love to make this cake in the 10″ and 8″ cake pans. Should I double or triple the recipe?
Hi Eve! Converting pan sizes is always tricky. Here’s a site I use as a guideline: http://www.joyofbaking.com/PanSizes.html
hi. your cake looks tall. ive tried your recipe but mine turned out shorter and it looks very cute in size.haha. i dont know the reason why. but other than that, it was delicious
Hi Mariah! Did you use 6″ cake pans? If so, be sure to not overmix the batter as that can cause smaller, denser cakes.
How long will this cake last?
Hi Kate! The cake will last for 2-3 days in the fridge. Any longer and it will start to dry out.
Love the sound of this cake! But I don’t have a paddle attachment for my mixer. What’s the best way to do it without the attachment? I tried doing it with the standard mixer but I think it may have split the ingredients (if that’s even possible haha).
Hi Danni! Are you using a hand mixer? That should work ok too as long as you use the beaters and not the whisk attachment 🙂
Also, having the mixture split is possible no matter what you use. Be sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature and that you alternate the flour/liquids. Usually though, a split cake batter bakes up just fine.
It’s an electric mixer just a very cheap one so it only has one attachment type (whisk). The cake batter was great (thanks to your recipe), it was the butter cream that I had the issue making.
Ah yes. It would not be the best for the frosting 🙁 BUT Swiss meringue is notorious for splitting or looking curdled at some point. It will come back together, you just need to keep whipping it!
This cake looks so delicious that I wanted to make it for a birthday. However, I loved the design and pink look to the pink champagne cake. I was wondering if I could use this recipe to get the flavour, but make it pink and design is like the other one?
Hi Alexandra! That should work but the frosting will be tinted brown if you use the coffee & baileys.
Can you please tell me if you use power egg whites or fresh? If you use fresh, how many eggs does it take for 1/2 cup?
I plan to make this cake for St. Patrick’s Day!
Thanks for sharing!
Hi Linda! I use fresh egg whites and 1/2 cup is 3 whites. I will update the recipe, not sure why I had it in cups in the first place! I hope you like this one 🙂
Greetings from Indonesia ♥️
I immediately falling in love with the cake. however, i cant seem to find buttermilk. Can i replace it with sour cream?
Hi Christy! You can use regular milk, or 1/2milk 1/2 sour cream/yogurt 🙂
ann marie whitten ( Murray) says
always curious, can you use liquid egg whites for baking opposed to whites separated from eggs? I particular to this recipe and your coffee baileys macaron recipe?
Thanks so much!
Hi Ann Marie! I tried liquid egg whites once for macarons and it was a huge fail. The meringue totally didn’t whip up! Perhaps this was a one off or an issue with that particular brand, but I haven’t tried them since 🙁 In a cake though, liquid would be fine, but I wouldn’t use them for any kind of meringue.
When you say line with parchment, do you mean just the bottom or the sides as well? I made the cake and flavours were excellent, but the actual cake turned out quite dense and very uneven.
Hi LJ! I just line the bottoms of my pans but make sure to spray the sides as well. Sorry to hear that the cake turned out dense! This can sometimes happen if the batter is overmixed 🙁
I had a question about the hot water bath. When you say to put it over the stove, should the stove be on? If so, what setting should the stove be at? Thanks!
Hi Hope! Yes, the stove should be on. What I do is I pour a bit of water into a pot (not a lot, a couple inches), bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low so that the water continues to simmer while I have the bowl of egg whites over top of it. I hope that helps!