cup o joe cake

Cup of Joe Cake

My Pappy always claimed he liked his coffee “really strong”. It took me awhile to realize he preferred it that way so it would hold up to the very generous amount of evaporated milk he added to it.

There was always a can of evaporated milk in the refrigerator with two pouring holes that were pounded into the top; not from a typical can opener, but by bumping the tip of a butcher knife into the lid, the thought of which makes me cringe today, but Pappy was very adept at it!

His love of “strong coffee” meant it was readily available in our home and there would be leftovers from a brewed pot at times. Growing up in a frugal Coal Region home, it went against everything my Mom believed to throw out anything useful, so she often put the leftover coffee to use in a cake that was one of the family’s favorites – her Cup of Joe Cake.

This rich, dark, chocolate cake pairs very well with peanut butter or penuche frosting as well as a good, basic buttercream. I have included my recipe for peanut butter frosting with this recipe. The cake is a good option for a potluck made in a 13 x 9 inch pan, but I think it makes an impressive layer cake and usually make it as 3 – 8 inch layers sandwiched between my peanut butter icing.

When mixed, this cake batter is very thin. Make sure to grease your baking pans generously as should be done for dark, chocolate, or thin cake batters. Parchment rounds in the bottom of your cake pans helps insure easy, tear-free removal of the cake layers from the pans.

Cup of Joe Cake

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: Cakes, Recipes, Sweet ThingsDifficulty: Intermediate

Dark, rich chocolate cake enhanced with a cup of coffee in the ingredients.


  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup cocoa

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup cooking oil

  • 1 cup sour milk (1 cup milk with 1 Tablespoon white vinegar added, stirred; let sit 10 minutes)

  • 1 cup strong black coffee

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 eggs, room temperature, beaten

  • Peanut Butter Icing
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened

  • 1 heaping cup peanut butter

  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1/4 cup milk, approximately


  • Cake
  • Preheat oven to 350 F degrees
  • Generously grease and flour 3 8-inch layer cake pans or a 13 x 9 inch pan. Set aside.
  • Combine all the dry ingredients in large bowl, whisking to remove lumps from cocoa. Make a well in the middle and add liquids and beaten eggs. Mix until well blended. Batter will be thin. Pour into greased 9 x 13 x 2 inch cake pan.
  • Bake approximately 35 – 40 minutes for 13 x 9 or 22 to 28 minutes for layers OR until cake is done when a cake tester comes out clean. Do not over bake . Cool, then frost as desired.
  • Icing
  • Place the butter and peanut butter in a mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer until light and smooth.
  • Add 2 cups powdered sugar and blend in, start slowly to avoid having powdered sugar fly from the bowl. Mix in the remaining powdered sugar, then the vanilla.
  • Start adding the milk and beating to a soft, spreadable consistency. You may need to use more or less the amount of milk listed in the recipe to achieve the consistency you desire.