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If you are lucky enough to be invited for coffee in any home in Norway, Denmark or Sweden, your host will probably serve a slice of brown cake with your coffee, that tastes like no other cake you have ever eaten - spicy, malty with hints of cinamon and a touch of pine, that goes so well with good coffee. That was my first introduction to kaffekage and I was lucky enough to have a host who was willing to part with her traditional family recipe.

The best kaffekage recipe

Kaffekage - perfect with coffee

Translated into English "kaffekage" means coffee cake and it's the perfect accompaniment for coffee. Everywhere you go in the Scandinavian countries someone has a different version of kaffekage. Some range from a bread, similar to the German stollen with dried fruit inside, to the bread-cake texture of Italian Panatella to a seed cake. But this is the one that took the prize as far as I'm concerned.

This recipe is easy, reliable and doesn't contain ingredients that will break your bank. Although the name translates into coffee cake, unlike the western recipes for coffee cake, this one does not contain coffee


This recipe is in two parts - the cake and the topping which is added on top of the mixture before it goes in the oven, so you don't need icing on this cake. I like that idea! Here's the cake ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature

  • 2 eggs, separated

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 1/4 cups flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds, must be fresh ground - the ready ground one from the supermarket is tasteless.

This is the topping which is added on top of the cake mixture before it is cooked. It looks like part of the cake when it's finished but has a distinctly different taste and texture, making an interesting taste sensation.

  • 3/4 cup pecans or chopped walnuts

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (fine ground Dutch Cinamon is ideal).

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

We need to make this topping first so it's ready to add to the cake mixture before it all goes into the oven. Heat the oven to 325° F (165° C) degrees. Spread the pecans on a dry baking sheet and toast them until lightly browned (approximately 5 to 7 minutes). Coarsely chop, then combine them with the sugar, cinnamon and butter in a small bowl. Set this aside.

The cake mixture

The cake mixture is ready to pour into the tin.


  1. Heat up your oven to 350° F (180° C). Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.

  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixer bowl.

  3. In another bowl, stir together the 2 egg yolks and the milk. Set aside.

  4. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and the cardamom; set aside.

  5. On medium mixer speed, alternately add half of the egg mixture and half of the flour to the butter mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the egg mixture and the flour mixture. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

  6. Whisk the egg whites until they're frothy and form very soft peaks (about 2 minutes). Gently fold them into the mixture.

  7. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the cake with the topping. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (approximately 30 minutes).

  8. Allow the cake to cool in the tin before turning out.

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Serving Suggestions

Do not add icing, the nut mixture forms it's own topping. Simply cut and serve with fresh coffee. Keep in a tin to prevent the cake from drying out

Kaffekage with custard sauce as a dessert

Kaffekage with custard sauce as a dessert.

I love cinnamon so I cheat and add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the cake mix as well. It darkens the colour of the cake and the cinnamon complements the cardamom pine-like flavour. It's also nice as a dessert. Add some custard sauce and give it a minute in the microwave.

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