This weekend a friend of ours will hit one of those milestone birthdays: the sort that calls for a party. So come Saturday night we'll be having a rare child-free evening hanging out in our friends kitchen, drink in hand and hair down. But what gift should one bring for such a significant birthday? A home-baked cake of course. People always appreciate a cake. Fact.
I find it really easy to make a cake for a girl: lots of pretty touches, pastel colours, flowers and decorations. But for the boys? It needs a bit more thought. Something more 'manly'. So I'm opting for a Guinness Cake.
I've made this cake copious times before, tending to keep to my failsafe recipe of Chocolate Guinness Cake finished with a White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. However, for this occasion, I'm going to tweak the usual by trying out this recipe for Chocolate Stout Cake with Whisky Frosting from Scandi baker Signe Johansen. I like the sound of the soured cream in the cake, which doesn't feature in my recipe. As for the Whisky Frosting; it just makes it sound oh-s0-suitable for a gentleman of a certain age, don't you think?
And on the subject of that popular Irish dry stout, I recently came across these splendid posters by Tom Eckersley from the 60's and 70's. I think they're just the bee's knees.
Chocolate Stout Cake with Whisky Frosting.
250ml / 9fl oz Guinness or stout
250g / 9oz butter
50g / 2oz cocoa powder
75g / 3oz dark chocolate
1 shot of espresso or 2 tbsp strong coffee
150ml / 5fl oz soured cream
2 medium eggs
350g / 12oz light brown muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
275g / 10oz refined spelt (or plain) flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp fine sea salt
125g / 4½ oz butter, softened
150g / 5oz icing sugar
150g / 5oz full-fat cream cheese
3-4 tbsp whisky
Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3 and lightly oil a 23cm • 9in round cake tin about 7cm • 2¾ in deep.
Warm the Guinness, butter, cocoa and chocolate in a medium saucepan over a low-medium heat until melted together and foamy. Remove from the heat, stir in the espresso and soured cream and set aside.
Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a medium-large bowl (or mixer) until pale golden and fluffy. Mix the flour, raising agents and salt together in a small bowl. Gradually whisk the Guinness mixture and dry ingredients into the beaten eggs in stages, alternating between wet and dry and whisking as you go until everything is mixed together in a dark, smooth cake batter.
Pour the batter into the tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-45 minutes or until the top of the cake feels springy and firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out cleanly. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack before icing (which will disguise any cracks on top).
Cream the butter and icing sugar together until fluffy, then add the cream cheese, three tablespoons of the whisky and a tiny pinch of salt, and beat until smooth. Taste to see how strong the whisky flavour is and add more to taste.
You can either ice the cake straight away or put the frosting in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up slightly before spreading evenly over the top of the cake, so that it looks like a glass of stout from the side! This keeps well for a couple of days in an airtight container.
Food images via: What Katie Ate