Calling all coffee lovers! Soft and moist sponge that just melts in your mouth, topped with a whipped cappuccino buttercream frosting, this most delicious coffee tray bake cake you’ll ever make! It’s super easy and is perfect for birthdays, BBQs or any occasion. What are you waiting for? Get stuck in!
Lou’s recipe overview
TASTE: Light and warming coffee flavour
PROS: That cappuccino buttercream is to die for
CONS: Absolutely none!
If you’re been reading Crumbs and Corkscrews for a while, you’ll know me by now and how I like to keep things here delicious and easy. If this is your first visit, then “Hello there” and welcome to my favourite deliciously easy dessert recipes.
And when it comes to easy bakes, they don’t come any easier than tray bakes and sheet cakes.
I mean how much easier can you get than one layer, that bakes really quickly and is completely faff-free to decorate? You really can’t go wrong with then,
Not only are they super simple, they look really impressive when smothered in a light and creamy buttercream frosting and scattered with sprinkles. There’s something really nostalgic, that brings back looks of happy childhood memories.
And for me, it’s the real classic cake flavours that work best as tray bake cakes, like my colourful vanilla tray bake cake, or my favourite chocolate version and even a classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
So as I was ticking off the classics, I thought it was about time I dipped in and went for a coffee version. And for an extra coffee hit, its smothered in a light, whipped cappuccino buttercream.
OMG, it’s SO good! I guarantee you it’s going to hit all those good spots – tasty, easy, quick!
If you want to skip the essential recipe info and handy tips for the softest coffee tray bake cake every time, then head on down to the printable recipe card.
You’ll love this recipe because…
It’s probably really obvious that I absolutely love the simplicity of a tray bake cake. But if you needed a little more persuasion about why you’ll love them as much as me, then let me tell you that…
- Quick and easy to make, using just one bowl – so there’s less washing up
- Just bake, cool and frost – so simple, no special skills required!
- Super light and fluffy cake with a warming coffee flavour
- Smooth and creamy cappuccino frosting you’ll want to eat with a spoon
- No levelling required – the batter pours straight into the pan
- Easy to adapt for any celebration or occasion, and perfect for a parties and picnics
What you’ll need to make this recipe
View my shopping list with equipment and ingredients
As I promised, this is a really easy recipe to make, but also the ingredients and equipment are really simple too which means you’ve probably got everything you need hanging out in the kitchen cupboards.
For the cake’s ingredients, you’ll need…
- Unsalted Butter – Add 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt to bring out the creaminess of the butter, or alternatively use a slightly salted butter instead
- Plain Flour or All-Purpose Flour – You can also use self-raising flour if you have it available and prefer to use it. As it has raising agents already added, reduce the baking powder quantity to 1 teaspoon
- Soft Light Brown Sugar – The caramel taste of the sugar enhances the warmth of the coffee flavour. Brown sugar is moist so it also helps keep your cake nice and soft too
- Caster Sugar or Superfine Sugar – I like to use a mix of sugars to not overpower the coffee flavour with the caramel notes from the brown sugar
- Natural Yogurt or Soured Cream – This adds fats into the cake batter to bind everything together but helps to keep a light and fluffy texture
- Eggs – Make sure these are at room temperature as it makes them easier to whisk and incorporate air into the cake batter
- Instant Coffee Granules
- Baking Powder
For the cappuccino buttercream, you’ll also need…
- Unsalted Butter
- Double or Heavy Cream
- Icing Sugar or Powdered Sugar
- Instant Coffee Granules
So the equipment is as simple as the ingredients, and in fact you can make this by hand so you don’t even need a mixer, although it does makes things a little easier.
You’ll have everything you need in the cupboard I’m sure, so grab…
- Large mixing bowl
- Hand held mixer
- Rubber spatula – For scrapping the bowl done with
- Angled Palette Knife – One of my essential pieces of equipment
I like to use a stand mixer for ease; but if you don’t have one I recommend a hand held mixer. Alternatively you can use a balloon whisk and a lot of elbow-grease.
You’ll also need something to bake the coffee tray bake cake in, and I recommend…
- 13 x 9 inch sheet pan – You pan should be at least 1-inch deep to get a good depth to your cake. I absolutely love my Masterclass one, it gives the perfect bake.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED: You’ll need about an hour in total to make, bake and decorate the cake; and then you’re ready to get stuck in.
How to make the recipe
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card
I absolutely love this recipe, it makes the smoothest cake batter that feels like silk as you pour it into the cake pan and spread it out. There’s something really satisfying about getting it lovely and level and watching it rise as it bake.
So here’s how to make it…
The coffee cake layer
I use a reverse-creaming technique for my coffee traybake, as I find it gives it you the most perfect and light texture cake that just melts in your mouth.
- Start off by combining the flour, baking powder and, if using, salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Add in the brown sugar and caster sugar and stir through until everything is combined.
- Add in the butter and mix together with a hand held mixer until you get a damp sandy texture.
- Make a paste with the coffee granules and cold water then add to the mixture with half of the greek yogurt. Mix well.
- Add the remaining greek yogurt and stir through, the cake batter should start to look thick and creamy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. You should end up with a smooth, creamy batter that spreads easily.
Once you’ve got a beautiful silky coffee cake batter, pour into a lined sheet pan, and pop into the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes.
RECIPE NOTE: The reverse-creaming technique starts with combining dry ingredients before adding the fats. This means the flour particles are coated with fat from the butter reducing the gluten formation. This gives you a finer, springy cake while still keeping it nice and light.
The cappuccino buttercream layer
Right then, get ready for the easiest and beautifully light cappuccino buttercream with just 4 simple ingredients.
Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment, whip the butter on medium-high for about 3-4 minutes. The butter will become pale in colour, light and airy.
Add the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time; whisking between each additional until fully incorporated. As you get towards to adding the last of the icing sugar, add the cream at the same time and mix well.
Make another coffee paste with instant coffee granules and cold water, like we did for the cake batter, then mix in. The buttercream will be smooth, thick but easily spreadable with just the right hint of coffee.
Assemble everything together
The beauty of a tray bake cake is that if you want to, you can leave it in the pan to cool and decorate it place; which is perfect if you’re taking it to a coffee morning, picnic barbecue or a party.
All you need to do is smother the frosting all over the top, getting a nice thick layer then swirl it all over with an angled palette knife. If you want something neater then use a piping bag and nozzle.
And it’s just as easy to serve – just cut up into slices or squares and feed your crowd… simple!
Step by step live video
Frequently asked questions
The recipe will fit a 13 x 9 inch traybake pan, about 1-inch deep. If you want a deeper cake then use a slighter smaller but deeper pan. You can also make this recipe two 8-inch cake tins for a layer cake.
A 13×9 traybake pan will serve about 18-24 slices depending on how big you make the slices.
Once decorated, the cake should be kept in an air-tight container, at room temperature. You can either cut the cake into slices and keep in a sealed container, or if serving shortly after decorating cover with kitchen foil.
The coffee traybake cake will keep for up to 3 days stored at room temperature or up to 1 week in the fridge. If freezing, the cake can be stored for up to 2 months.
Yes, the cake can be frozen, either un-iced or iced. Wrap it well in clingfilm/ plastic wrap and you can store it for up to 2 months. Remember to defrost thoroughly before decorating or eating.
Recipe notes and top tips
Now while I love the simplicity of a traybake cake, here are a few hints and tips for you so you’ll get the perfect cake every time.
- Weigh your ingredienta – Seriously this is the number one top tip that will change every single bake you make and digital kitchen scales are your new Best Friend! Did you know that a 1 cup of flour could give you 150% of correct measurement so invest in a set of scales.
- Use room temperature eggs – And this is the second best top tip. Adding cold eggs to your cake batter mix can cause it to curdle, so get your eggs out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you start baking. It also makes the eggs easier to whisk and gives them lots of volume, helping keep your cake light and fluffy.
- Use a homemade cake release – You don’t want the cake sticking to the baking tray, especially if you want to serve in the pan; so give it a good coating of a simple 3-ingredient cake release before adding the batter. If you’re not serving in the pan you can also line your tray with baking parchment to help you lift the cake out.
- Let the cake fully cool before frosting – I know its tempting to get the frosting on as quickly as possible and tuck into a slice but you must let it fully cool first. Either remove it from the pan after 10 minutes to fully cool on a wire-rack or if serving from the pan, let the cake and pan completely cool. No one wants melted frosting!
I love tray bake cakes! Not only are they one of the easiest, no-fuss cakes out there, that gives you plenty of cake to feed a crowd; they’re also are easy to adapt. Why not try some of these flavour combos..
- Chocolate Mocha – Try my favourite chocolate tray bake cake, and add a shot of cooled espresso or strong coffee to the buttercream for the perfect mocha combination.
- Mint Oreo – Switch up my Oreo traybake and use Mint Oreos instead with a layer of my amazing mint frosting for a new take on a classic mint choc flavour..
- Strawberries and Cream – Why not give my classic vanilla sheet cake an extra special touch and ripple strawberry jam through the cake batter and decorate with my clotted cream buttercream and fresh strawberries.
Coffee Tray Bake Cake
For the Sheet Cake
For the Buttercream
- 150 g Butter Salted
- 300 g Icing Sugar or Powdered Sugar
- 100 ml Double Cream or Heavy Cream
- 1 tbsp Instant Coffee Granules or Vanilla Bean Paste
- To make the sheet cake: Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line a 13×9 inch sheet pan with baking paper. Alternatively, coat the pan with homemade cake release.
- In a large bowl or a stand mixer bowl, sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt and mix together.350 g Plain Flour, 1 tsp Fine Sea Salt, 3 tsp Baking Powder
- Then add the light brown sugar and caster sugar. Mix together until well combined.200 g Soft Light Brown Sugar, 100 g Caster Sugar
- Add the butter to the flour mixture and beat with a handheld mixer until everything is well well-combined and the butter evenly distributed. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer with the beater attachment.250 g Butter
- Make a paste with the instant coffee granulate and 1 tablespoon of cold water. Add the coffee paste and half of the natural yogurt to the mixture. Beat the again until the ingredients begin to form a thick batter.150 ml Natural Yogurt, 2 tbsp Instant Coffee Granules
- Add the remaining natural yogurt, and beat the ingredients again. They should be well combined into a runny cake batter.150 ml Natural Yogurt
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk between each addition on medium-high until the cake batter is smooth, thick and spreadable.4 Eggs
- Pour the cake batter into the lined sheet pan, and level if required using an offset spatula.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until springy to touch and skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
- To make the buttercream: In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the balloon attachment, whisk the butter until pale and creamy. This should take about 3-4 minutes on medium-heat.150 g Butter
- Make a paste with the instant coffee granules and 1-2 teaspoons of cold water. Add in the coffee paste and then the icing sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating between each addition until smooth. If the frosting is too stiff, add a tablespoon of whole milk and mix.2 tbsp Instant Coffee Granules, 300 g Icing Sugar
- Once all the icing sugar is combined, add the double cream into the buttercream mixture. Whisk on medium-high for 2-3 minutes to thicken the cream. The buttercream should be thick but easily spread using a palette knife.100 ml Double Cream
- To assemble the cake: If you are transporting the cake and left it to cool in the pan, you can ice in the cake in place. If you have turned the cake out onto a wire rack, place the cake on a serving plate and then decorate.
- Spoon the buttercream on top of the cake, then using a palette knife, spread the buttercream evenly across the cake. You can add swirls with the palette knife for texture if you prefer. Sprinkle all over with sprinkles and dust with cocoa powder.
- What size cake pan should I use? The recipe will fit a 13 x 9 inch traybake pan, about 1-inch deep. If you want a deeper cake then use a slighter smaller but deeper pan. You can also make this recipe two 8-inch cake tins for a layer cake.
- How many servings does the recipe make? A 13×9 traybake pan will serve about 18-24 slices depending on how big you make the slices.
- How should the cake be stored? Once decorated, the cake should be kept in an air-tight container, at room temperature. You can either cut the cake into slices and keep in a sealed container, or if serving shortly after decorating cover with kitchen foil.
- How long will the cake last? The coffee traybake cake will keep for up to 3 days stored at room temperature or up to 1 week in the fridge. If freezing, the cake can be stored for up to 2 months.
- Can I freeze the cake? Yes, the cake can be frozen, either un-iced or iced. Wrap it well in clingfilm/ plastic wrap and you can store it for up to 2 months. Remember to defrost thoroughly before decorating or eating.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.