I put beer in a cake because that’s the only way I’ll drink beer, and honestly, I don’t know why anyone drinks it any other way. Especially if it’s a fabulous stout, that, when melted with butter and mixed with sugar, produces a honey-flavoured, golden potion that made me think I might have unintentionally created Butterbeer and should probably just guzzle it as is.
I didn’t though. I showed self-control and made cake. The irony.
This beauty was to mark and celebrate my Dad’s retirement from the Navy after 36 years. The day left us with all sorts of mixed feelings, as retirement does, but luckily, we still feel the same way about cake.
Dark, rich, moist, intensely chocolatey, despite there being no melted chocolate in the batter. Layered and topped with a bitter chocolate ganache, infused with more stout, to create a dessert you remember for days.
This Nigella Lawson recipe stuck with me because the cake batter itself took hardly any time to come together. With no melted chocolate, double boiler shenanigans, all it really takes is basic wet and dry ingredients with a generous cup of stout. If you’re not a beer lover, this cake is for you, because you can’t taste the stout, as much as acknowledge the depth it gives to the cake. Strong and silent, if you will. Just like my Dad 🙂
I decided to skip Nigella’s cream cheese frosting and instead do an improvised ganache. I had just enough for a thin layer in the middle of the cake, but if you’d like to be more generous, double the quantities of cream, chocolate and stout. This is also a ganache you can modify as needed. Less cream for a thicker version, more for a sauce-y one. A little sugar thrown in to cut through the bitterness, or not. Really, it’s chocolate and you can’t go wrong.
The one thing I will change the next time I make this cake, is possibly reduce the baking soda to stop this cake from rising and cracking as much it did. Particularly, if you have a frosting planned, there is a lot of slicing off the top and levelling of the surface that is needed because of how much it rises. No harm done, but I doubt such a high amount of leavener is needed. In the recipe below, I’ve suggested 2 teaspoons instead of the original 2 and a half teaspoons.
I reduced the sugar by half a cup while making the batter and even if you omit the frosting, that amount of sweetness is just right. This cake is meant to be strong and intensely flavoured and we shouldn’t shy away from it 🙂 I recommend slicing into it when freshly frosted because that’s when it’s at its moistest, plus the ganache is all smooth and silky and epic. Also, if you’re serving this after the first day, warm up each slice a bit and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. From experience, I can say this is one of my life’s best decisions.
Basically, make your cake and eat it too.
- For the cake
- 1 cup stout beer
- 250 gms room temperature butter (roughly 1 cup, but I find weight measures best for butter)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsps baking soda
- ¾ cup cocoa
- 1 and ½ cups caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- ⅔ cup plain yoghurt
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- For the ganache
- 100 gms dark cooking chocolate
- ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp stout
- ¼ cup cream, adjust according to desired thickness of ganache
- 1 tbsp caster sugar, adjust according to desired sweetness
- In a small saucepan set over low heat, combine the stout and butter, stirring frequently till melted.
- While the mixture melts, sift the flour, baking soda and cocoa in a bowl. Set aside. Grease an 8" cake tin and preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Take the beer-butter mixture off the heat, stir in the sugar and try not to drink it all up. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add the yoghurt and vanilla and mix well. The mixture might look a little curdled. Pour in the beer-butter mixture and stir well.
- Gently fold in the flour mixture in two batches until combined. You may find some lumps and running a hand mixer through the batter for a few seconds sorts it right out. The batter will have more air bubbles than normal because of the beer. They do not harm the cake texture, so don't worry about popping each one.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake is risen and a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. If after 45 minutes, you see some moist crumbs on the toothpick, turn the oven off, and let the cake sit in there for a few more minutes to cook in the residual heat. If the toothpick comes out with uncooked batter, cover the top with foil, then continue to bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until done.
- Allow the cake to cool COMPLETELY at room temperature before frosting, especially if you plan to slice it in the middle and layer it with frosting.
- To make the frosting, heat the chocolate and stout on a very low flame, stirring constantly till melted. Normally I would make ganache in a double boiler, but in this case, the stout needed to evaporate so direct heat was better. Take the mixture off the heat, stir in the cream and sugar and mix well till combined. If needed, stick it back on the heat to melt, stirring constantly and lifting it off frequently to prevent burning. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Either slice the cake carefully around the middle to layer with frosting, or spoon it all right on top and spread evenly.
- Allow the cake to sit for a few minutes, then slice and serve 🙂 Keep refrigerated and reheat as needed.
*I used Mii Spezial Coverture chocolate for the ganache, available at Food Hall and on Big Basket
*This cake would be fabulous even without the ganache frosting, but it does add a pronounced stout flavour which is incredible 🙂