When I first spotted Nigella’s recipe for Guinness cake I was excited. Surely this would be the cake to rival all cakes. But I kept putting it aside since I’m an IPA drinker and my husband will drink whatever is cheap (ie. pils). We just never have Guinness in the house. But then after a Boxing Day gathering, someone left a Chocolate Stout in our fridge. It was then I decided that I’d give that Nigella recipe a whirl as Cornelius’ birthday cake. But then, that stout was taken to a friend’s house for New Years and it was out of our life for good. So when yesterday rolled around, the illustrious day of my husband’s birth, all I had in my fridge was some deep red Maple Cream Ale from a local brewer. Maple Cream had to do and I whipped up the cake lickety-split!
This recipe makes a lovely cake because it’s tasty and it’s one of those one-pot wonders. Dump everything into a pot and it turns out awesome. Yes, the cake is super delicious, uber-moist (I think Nigella sighs over the word “damp”) and looked so frothy topped with a sturdy cream cheese-whipped cream head.
I’ve never really followed a Nigella Lawson recipe too closely. I’ve made her eggplant Involtini and a couple salad recipes, but I’ve never tackled a baking recipe. All of those grams and millilitres frighten even my metric ass! But I did purchase a kitchen scale last summer and decided to put it to use yesterday. Measuring out the ingredients was very satisfying and made me feel like the pro I’m not. The only thing that was a bit vague in her recipe was her directions for frosting. I don’t think she mentions to whip the cream, but I did. I wanted to be sure that the frosting that topped this showpiece would stand proud and after a stiff beating, it did. I had achieved frosting perfection.
Some modifications, of course. Besides the beer switcheroo, I used yogurt instead of sour cream. I also didn’t use the measurements for the frosting listed below. I used what I had….a 250 g tub of cream cheese, half of a large container of heavy cream and enough sugar to make it sweet but not too sweet. I also threw in some vanilla just to add a bit more flavour. For the cake pan, Nigella doesn’t specify what size, but I used 1 kind of small and 1 medium sized spring form pan. They filled up nicely and having 2 different sizes is great because, Cornelius and I can share the small one and the larger one can be transported to a friend’s house for a celebration there! 2 cakes for the price of 1!
red ale & chocolate cake
250 ml maple cream ale (or Guinness or another stout or deep coloured ale)
250 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
75 g cocoa
400 g white sugar
142 ml yogurt
1 T vanilla extract
275 g flour
2 1/2 t baking soda
300 g cream cheese
150 g icing sugar
1 t vanilla
125 ml heavy cream
1. In a large pot, melt the butter in the beer. When it’s all good and melted, add in the sugar and sift in the cocoa. Remove from head and let cool for a couple of minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and eggs and vanilla and then dump into beer pot. Mix. Add in flour and baking soda, whisking well until combined.
2. Butter and flour a round spring form pan and pour in batter. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or so. The size of pan you use will determine the baking time. Let cake cool for a bit before removing the spring form pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.
3. Combine cream cheese, vanilla, and icing sugar in one bowl. In a separate bowl, whip cream until stiff. Gently add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and whip lightly until combined. Gob on frosting to the top of the cake. It should look like beer head so don’t get fancy. Stick a candle in it, raise a glass and sing a song!