Happy St Patrick’s Day! Sure I couldn’t let the day pass by without an Irish themed recipe and this dark and delicious chocolate Guinness cake is the perfect celebration cake.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m quite partial to a Guinness (especially when the rugby is on) so I love anything with Guinness in. If you’re not such a fan then don’t be put off, you can’t really taste the Guinness in the cake, there’s a slightly hint from the hops but it just tastes like the mostly deliciously rich chocolate cake.
I’ve adapted this recipe slightly from the original which I found in Nigella Lawson’s ‘Feast’ cookbook. It was actually introduced to me by my boss who brought in the best Guinness cake I’d ever tasted. She said the recipe was by Nigella and the rest is history.
I always prefer to leave a cake to completely cool, mostly overnight, when I’m baking as more often than not my cakes need to be split and filled by this is a one-bowl, one layer wonder so you can definitely make it all in one day, just make sure the cake is cool before adding the icing otherwise it will melt.
Makes: one thick 7 inch cake (plus 8 cupcakes) or one regular 9 inch cake
Prep time: 20/25 minutes
Baking time: one hour for the cake, 35 minutes for the cupcakes
Ingredients – for the cake
250ml Guinness (from a can, not a bottle)
250g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
75g good quality cocoa powder
400g caster sugar (I use half golden, half regular)
100ml sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
275g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Ingredients – for the frosting
200g icing sugar
130ml double cream
1. Grease and line a 7 inch cake pan, line a cupcake tray with 8 cases and pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.
2. Pour the Guinness into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over a low to medium heat. Add the cubed butter in a few cubes at a time. Keep the pan on the heat until you’ve added all the butter and it’s melted. I like to add the butter in three stages; adding just as the other cubes are melting.
3. Whilst you’re waiting for your butter to melt (this should only take 3 or so minutes), beat your sour cream, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla together and set aside.
4. Once the butter is melted, remove from the heat and tip in the caster sugar and cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Once you have a bubbly mixture, add in your cream and egg mix and whisk again.
5. Sift your flour and bicarbonate of soda into the pan and whisk again until you have a dark, thick, bubbly mixture.
6. Pour the mix directly into your prepared cake tin, filling just past halfway height and bake for 1 hour on the middle shelf of the oven. The cake should be dark when cooked and a skewer inserted should come out clean. Use the remaining mix to fill the cupcake cases (I manage 8 generous servings) and bake on the bottom tray of the oven for 35 minutes until dark and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
7. When baked remove your cake from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin. Usually I’d outturn a cake but I leave this to cool entirely in its tin as it is quite a moist cake and can be a little unstable when warm. If you’re icing the next day, wrap firmly in two layers of clingfilm when cool and leave at room temperature – don’t put it in the fridge.
8. To make the icing add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer (I use a SMEG Stand Mixer) and beat until soft and slightly loose. At this stage, tip in the icing sugar and beat to combine.
9. Finally, add in the double cream and beat until you have a thick and spreadable frosting. Don’t overmix.
10. I choose to level the top off my cakes and flip them over so that the flat bottom becomes the top. Slather the frosting on top of the cake, creating a thick and frothy layer of frosting.
I like to measure all of my ingredients out beforehand to make this quite quickly. I like to work quickly once the butter has melted and having everything ready helps.
Tipping Guinness into a pan goes against everything you’ll ever know about pouring a pint. There’s no skill, just tip it into the pan!
Once the butter is melted in the liquid should be the colour of toffee – you’d never guess this was Guinness!
Once you add the cocoa powder the mixture will take on the famous Guinness darkness again.
Whisk well but be careful not to overmix else the cake will be too tight and dense, making it heavy.
You should be able to see air bubbles forming and bursting in the mixture. This is the perfect time to put it into the oven.
My stand mixer has revolutionised my baking. Whipping up this cream cheese frosting took minutes and it is so smooth. I love an action shot of the beater in motion!
Your frosting should be pale, pillowy and thick enough to spread and hold its shape. This is the perfect consistency.
Use a good dollop of icing to fix the cake to a cake board.
I use a flat and a small cranked palette knife to ice my cakes. This allows me more control than just using one or the other. The flat palette knife helps get the icing on quickly and the cranked palette knife is great for control.
The idea is for the darkness of the cake and the thickness of the icing to emulate the famous Guinness pint.
The icing should be thick and smooth. Use any excess to decorate your cupcakes.
I don’t think you can beat a good Guinness and fully recommend doing the brewery tour if you’re in Dublin. Not only is the building incredible but the history is something else!
Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone!
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