I was intrigued when I first saw this cake in Nigella Lawson’s book, then it popped up again on Athena’s blog in which I was redirected to Design Sponge and ding ding! that’s when I knew it was a sign for me to make this cake. A cake like this beauty, reminiscent of a tall glass of stout, a cake with a glowing halo above it begs to be baked and frosted and shared among friends.
Despite the inky, lava-like batter threatening to overflow my mixing bowl, the cakes turned out beautifully. I did make one booboo though. One cake pan was actually larger in diameter than the other, so when I stacked them on top of another, it turned out wonky, not to mention that the cake itself is quite delicate and as I transferred it to my brand spanking new cake plate, I nearly split it in half. I’m not one to have the patience over layered cakes, I’m the kinda girl who prefers her desserts simple and rustic, but it’s always fun to have beautiful cakes, especially for birthdays (like me and my mom’s).
For the first time in my life, I used fancy cocoa powder. By fancy, I mean I-treated-myself-as-if-I-were-the-Queen fancy. I went to the Delicious Food Show on Friday with a classmate and walked away with a kilo of Cacoa Barry Extra Brute cocoa powder and a spring in my step. I know that ideally, the best quality chocolate should be used in baked goods, though sometimes I can’t afford to buy expensive ingredients, there was something about the dark, musky scent of cocoa that lured me to splurge and splurge I did.
Nigella describes this cake having a “resonant, ferrous tang” and Katie deems it “one of the best chocolate cakes recipes out there” so come on, isn’t that enough to urge you to make it too?
This cake is dreamy. In the oven, the signature bitterness of the Guinness evaporates, replaced with a cake that is moist, dense, with a soft, delicate crumb. This cake could be a fatal cavity-inducing treat in each bite, yet the beer adorns it with an unmistakable dampness, leaving it not overly sweet, but just right.
I suspect the use of fancy cocoa powder amps up the richness of the cake. The white frothy frosting gives a striking contrast to the dark, charcoal layers and on your tongue, there’s the undeniable twang from silky cream cheese. And when the sparkler candles went off, it was a like a mini fireworks show. But nothing beats a chocolate birthday cake more than a night surrounded by the kindest, the funniest, the sweetest friends you could ever hope for.
Chocolate Guinness Cake
I replaced the sour cream in the original recipe with thick, creamy yogurt since that's what I had at home and I never use sour cream anyway. I also baked the cake into separate cake pans to create a layer cake as opposed to a single 10-inch angel food cake pan that Katie originally used, ergo, the cakes need to be tested for doneness sooner since the cakes are essentially smaller.
1 cup and 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup Guinness
¾ cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 and ¼ cup all purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
2 medium eggs
2/3 cup yogurt (not non-fat)
1 tablespoon good quality vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350°F and position rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
2. Add butter, cocoa and Guinness to a saucepan. Warm over a medium heat and stir until melted. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to cool slightly.
3. Add flour, baking soda and sugar to a large mixing bowl and mix together well. Pour in the Guinness/cocoa/butter mixture, lightly combine, add the vanilla, eggs and yogurt and beat everything together until well combined. The batter should be thick and dark chocolate in color.
3. Evenly pour into a cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake (Katie notes: This cake is very moist inside, so use your judgment regarding the skewer test. Do not leave in the oven until the cake has totally dried out — cook long enough so there is no uncooked cake on the skewer but there may be a few moist crumbs sticking to it after an hour of cooking)
4. Leave to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from cake pans and place on a wire wrack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 + 1/3 cup cream cheese
1 + ½ cup icing sugar, sifted
2/3 heavy cream, whipped
1. In a medium bowl, using electric beaters whip cream cheese under low-medium speed until smooth and no big lumps remaining.
2. Gradually add in the icing sugar and beat gently to combine. After 2 to 3 minutes, scrape any excess frosting from the sides of the bowl and beat on medium speed until lump free.
3. Gently fold in the whipped cream, mixing to fully combine.
4. On a cake stand, spread one third of the frosting to one cooled cake layer, spreading out just to the edge without going over the side. Carefully top with the other cake layer, and spread with remaining frosting, if desired, decorate with a scattering of sprinkles.