Baking Recipes Using Nespresso Pods

In America, the standard term coffee cake refers to a food that curiously has no actual coffee inside: no coffee powder, no espresso, no coffee-flavored elixir, not even a small splash of liquid from your morning coffee brew. It’s instead a streusel-style cake, often yellow with swirls of sugary cinnamon, pumpkin, or other spices and nuts, and topped with a flour-based brown-sugar crumble. As delicious as various incarnations of coffee cake can be, this begs the question of why it’s called a coffee cake. The answer apparently lies in the centuries-old European custom of serving enhanced sweet breads with coffee. Simple enough.

However, there’s a new style of coffee cake in town, along with a family of baked goods using coffee as a core ingredient. We’ve grown accustomed to coffee ice creams, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and caffeine-infused snacks — but this is different. Brewed coffee or espresso gets baked into the batter of these real-deal coffee cakes, cookies, and pies, sometimes accompanied by chopped, roasted coffee beans, depending on the recipe. A rich, earthy flavor and aroma instantly transform an ordinary dessert into an extraordinary treat.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to enter this realm of baking, and it already perches atop many kitchen countertops. That would be your Nespresso machine. Using a single brewed pod of Nespresso coffee adds just the right amount of kick to baked goods without overwhelming the palate. However, choosing the right pod is crucial for a balance of flavor and liquid volume.

Customizing baked goods with a Nespresso kick

Tiramisu cake with espresso

To get comfortable with coffee-based baking, it’s helpful to have a point of reference. Coffee can be brewed at very different strengths and in a wide array of roasts, making it a guessing game when upgrading your favorite cake or cookie recipe with a coffee infusion. For that rich java taste without ruining the consistency of baked goods, it’s very important to get the right liquid volume.

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When using Nespresso coffee, that’s usually going to mean selecting one of the designated espresso blends, either in the original or Vertuo capsules or pods. You’ll get a punchy burst of intense flavor in your cake, but more importantly, it will come in a concentrated espresso volume that doesn’t dilute the batter and ruin the balance of ingredients. With an original machine, you’ll simply choose the espresso setting, while a high-tech Vertuo machine automatically reads the barcoded pod and adjusts water volume accordingly.

As a handy intro to baking with coffee, Nespresso provides a true coffee cake recipe using an original-line Genova Livanto capsule, which is designated an Italian medium-roast for brewing espresso. Once brewed, it’s the only liquid used in the cake, accompanied by standard cake ingredients including flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and yeast. A wide range of Nespresso coffees could serve the same purpose as long as they’re brewed in a concentrated espresso volume. The concept is also easy to incorporate into any dessert, including this Look approach to homemade tiramisu.

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