Why Did My Coffee And Walnut Cake Not Rise?

Are you wondering, “why did my coffee and walnut cake not rise?” It is a challenge you may encounter when baking, especially if you are new to this craft.

Why Did My Coffee And Walnut Cake Not Rise?
Coffee And Walnut Cake

I often hear that intuition, or learning to feel what you are doing, is essential when you cook. On the other hand, baking is regarded as somewhat more technical because it requires a certain degree of accuracy in terms of the number of ingredients, the preparation process, and the baking temperature. 

Personally, baking is more challenging for me because it might be too late before I notice that something is wrong with my baked goods. One of these concerns is the cake failing to rise. Thankfully, your coffee or walnuts probably aren’t the cause of it.

Here are the usual reasons why you encounter this problem and how to possibly salvage your dessert.

You Left Out The Leavening Agent

Although there are desserts that don’t need leavening or raising agents, this is an important ingredient if you want your cake to rise and have that fluffy texture we all know and love. Baking powder or yeast are the usual raising agents used because when they are mixed with water, they create air bubbles in the mixture that will expand when exposed to high temperatures. This causes the cake to rise and bind with the egg.

Make sure that this is part of your recipe. I suggest using baking powder instead of yeast lest you want to incorporate a funky yet savory cheese-like flavor into your dessert. Remember that baking powder is different from baking soda.

Read your recipe thoroughly and check the requirements.

You Put Too Much Leavening Agent

We have all been tempted to add too much of an ingredient for the sake of experimenting but be wary that adding too much raising agent will allow the air bubbles to rapidly expand and clear out from the cake before it bakes thoroughly. 

This usually results in an underbaked center which will collapse, giving you an unequal layer. You can solve this by following the recipe as precisely as possible. If you don’t want to bake another batch, I suggest you be generous with your frosting and cover the sunken part with it or cover it up with fillings like M&M’s or crushed cookies.

Another leavening agent concern you should take note of is the expiration date, especially if you don’t bake that often and have lots of old ingredients in your cupboard. In this case, only buy what you need and opt for smaller packages if available. 

Why did my coffee and walnut cake not rise?
Add too much of a leavening agent will allow the air bubbles to expand rapidly

Your Oven Is Too Hot Or Too Cold

Temperature is a key factor in making your cake rise. If it is too hot, you run the risk of burning your cake or baking the outer layers faster than its inner layer, which can make it sink. If it is too cold because you didn’t preheat the oven, the cake will not rise because it wasn’t baked enough.

To resolve this, try to preheat your oven to around 350°F (180°C) or whatever temperature the recipe calls for, for about ten to 15 minutes. This is also the optimal temperature for baking a coffee and walnut cake, so most recipes shouldn’t deviate from this. You might also want to invest in an oven thermometer for an accurate reading.

Once you put the cake batter in, leave it to bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until you see an even rise and browning. On a related note, once you are done making your coffee and walnut cake, check out one of our guides to know how long this dessert lasts.

Another tip is to avoid opening your oven unnecessarily. You might be anxious to check if everything is going well, but opening it will let the cold air in and the hot air out and this might sink your cake. Always trust the process.

If you do have to check, do so at around five to ten minutes before it finishes baking.

You Mixed Too Hard

There are two things that happen when you mix the ingredients too hard. The first is that you will create elastic gluten strands in your batter, making the texture of your dessert closer to bread than cake. The second is it will let the air escape and these are essential in making your cake rise.

You can counteract this by being gentle with your mixing. Use the folding technique by letting your spatula run through the side of your bowl while scooping the mixture and then gently flipping it over. Repeat the process until all of the remaining dry ingredients are incorporated into the mixture. 

I would advise sifting your flour and baking powder once you add it and let your butter soften at room temperature after removing it from the fridge. These steps make it easier to fold. If you put your cake mixture in the fridge first, let it sit out before putting it in the oven.

Otherwise, you could have an uneven rise in the cake and undercooked parts.

You Have The Wrong Tin Size

The volume of your batter should be proportionate to the size of your cake tin, as this will affect the baking time and the heat distribution. If you are using a tin that is too narrow, it will bake unevenly and might sink in the middle. If you are using a tin that is too wide, the batter will spread thin, and you will not see it rise even though it is baked evenly.

Melted butter and cake tin
Batter should be proportionate to the size of your cake tin

You will also run the risk of burning it if you haven’t adjusted the baking time.

Go back to the recipe book and check the diameter of the tin or the length of the pan you should be using. If you are good at math, you can try to calculate the baking time according to the volume of your mixture and the size of the tin or pan, but this is highly unreliable. You might also find our explainer on can you freeze coffee cake helpful. 

FAQs On Coffee And Walnut Cake

Which Coffee Should I Use For Baking A Cake?

Although Arabica tastes best for a cup of Joe, I find that Robusta’s bolder flavor impeccably balances the sweetness of the cake in general. Personally, it is more delicious to have that bitter flavor pop out as it will make the cake taste sweeter without getting sated too soon.

Can I Increase The Number Of Walnuts?

I don’t recommend adding walnuts to the batter as this will affect the baking process because nuts contain oil. If you do want to add walnuts to the mixture, make sure you grind them coarsely, as it will also release oil if it is too fine and might separate once you add it to the batter. On a positive note, you can add as many walnuts as you like for garnish!


  • Renz Lyndon Paguio

    His love for java originated from sidewalk vendors offering cheap 3-in-1 instant coffees poured in styrofoam cups. If he’s not in a studio or in an event venue, you’ll find RL crafting his own cold brew or sharing his experiences to fellow coffeephiles.