Monday, June 12, 2006
Guinness is Good For YOU!
[If loving a cake is bad, then I don’t want to be good!]
Last Friday night was a Bon Voyage party for one of my students (Jessica, pictured here). She was about to embark on 30-day trip to Scotland, where she will be participating in the excavations of a really cool archaeological site! I leaped at the chance to make her a cake for her party. I have been dying to make this Guinness Chocolate Cake (recipe by Nigella Lawson), so I thought what a perfect crowd to serve it to! (Yes, I do know that Guinness is Irish and she is going to Scotland, but who cares?!?!?!?!)
All I can say is this cake is absolutely fantastic! Jessica’s husband, Daniel, gave the cake two thumbs up, and proclaimed that “The cake and the hummus [another treat I brought a long] were wicked!” THANKS! The cake is wicked. I am in love with this chocolate cake like no other, perfect density and crumb, and the icing sets off the cake PERFECTLY! Okay, without further ado, here is the recipe (with my comments in parenths.)
Chocolate Guinness Cake -- Nigella Lawson’s
This cake is magnificent in its damp blackness. I can't say that you can absolutely taste the stout in it but there is certainly a resonant, ferrous tang which I happen to love. The best way of describing it is to say that it’s like gingerbread without the spices. There is enough sugar - a certain understatement here- to counter any potential bitterness of the Guinness, and although I've eaten versions of this made up like a chocolate layer cake, stuffed and slathered in a rich chocolate frosting, I think that can take away from its dark majesty. Besides, I wanted to make a cream cheese frosting to echo the pale head that sits on the top of a glass of stout. It's unconventional to add cream but it makes it lighter and frothier which I regard as aesthetically and gastronomically desirable. But it is perfectly acceptable to leave the cake un-iced; in fact, it tastes gorgeous plain.
For the cake:
1 cup Guinness
1 stick plus 2 two tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar (I used 1 cup regular sugar and 1 cup brown –that’s all I had!)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking soda
For the topping:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream (whoops! Forgot to buy this so I subbed maybe ¼ cup full-fat goat’s milk)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and line a 9-inch springform pan. Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter - in spoons or slices - and heat until the butter is melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.
Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
When the cake's cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the frosting. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift over the confectioner's sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsifted confectioner's sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint. Makes about 12 slices. (I would say that this cake served a lot more than 12 folks. It is so dense the pieces don’t need to be huge!)