Chocolate Stout Cake
Makes 1 large cake; 16 servings. Recipe is courtesy of King Arthur Flour. “Stout and other dark beers are often described as having chocolatey overtones, so this combination might not be as far-fetched as one might initially think,” according to King Arthur Flour bakers.
2 cups stout or dark beer, such as Guinness
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
11/2 cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tbl. baking powder
11/2 tsps. salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 lb. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch or two 9-inch cake pans, and line them with parchment paper circles. Be sure your 9-inch pans are at least 2 inches deep.
2. For the cake: Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan and heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the cocoa powder.
3. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
4. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
5. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream.
6. Add the stout-cocoa mixture, mixing to combine.
7. Add the flour mixture and mix together at slow speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix again for 1 minute.
8. Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. (See tips for hints on weighing out the batter if you have a kitchen scale.)
9. Bake the layers for 35 minutes for 8-inch pans, or 45 to 50 minutes for 9-inch pans, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their pans and returning to the rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.
10. For the frosting: Place the chopped chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan.
11. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is completely smooth.
12. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until the icing is spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.
13. To assemble: Trim one cake layer to have a flat top, if necessary (otherwise the layer will crack when you place it upside down on your cake plate).
14. Line the edges of a serving plate with parchment or waxed paper to keep it clean, and then place the layer upside down on top. Spread 2⁄3 cup of the icing over just the top of the layer.
15. Top with another cake layer, top side down, and repeat the process. If you baked three layers, add that one also.
16. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Remove the parchment or waxed paper. Sprinkle with shamrock sugar decorations, if you have them.
Tips: If you’re using salted butter, decrease the salt in the recipe to 1 teaspoon.
If you’re buying Guinness in cans (they list 14.9 ounces on the label), use 1 can and make up the difference in volume with water.
If you’re making 2 layers, be sure your 9-inch cake pans are at least 2-inch deep. If they aren’t that tall, use three 8-inch layers instead
The batter for this cake weighs 5 pounds, 15 ounces or 95 ounces. If you have a scale, a two-layer cake should have 2 pounds, 151/2 ounces of batter in each pan. For a 3-layer cake, each layer should weigh 1 pound, 15 1/2 ounces.
If you have access to chocolate disks or chips that are pure chocolate, they’ll melt more quickly when making the frosting.