Sunday, March 13, 2011

King Arthur Flour: Chocolate Stout Cake

Stout and other dark beers are often described as having chocolaty overtones, so this combination might not be as far-fetched as one might initially think. The flavor of this cake is multi-dimensional: the presence of the stout gives it a much more interesting finish; the hops from the beer act as a counterpoint to the sugar in the cake. It's an incredibly moist cake, too, and its rich, dark color comes mostly from the beer. This recipe makes two tall, imposing layers; be sure your 9" cake pans are at least 2" tall, or use 10" pans if you have them. For a smaller dessert, see the bottom tip, at right.
You can see this recipe in greater detail at our blog, Bakers' Banter.

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Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8" or two 9" cake pans, and line them with parchment paper circles. Be sure your 9" pans are at least 2" 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 section for hints on weighing out the batter if you have a kitchen scale.)

9. Bake the layers for 35 minutes for 8" pans, or 45 to 50 minutes for 9" 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 heatproof 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.

 

Recipe summary

Hands-on time: 25 mins. to 35 mins.
Baking time: 45 mins. to 50 mins.
Total time: 1 hrs 10 mins. to 1 hrs 25 mins.
Yield: 1 large cake, 16 servings

Tips from our bakers

  • 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" cake pans are at least 2" deep. If they aren't that tall, use three 8" 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, 15 1/2 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. We used a bit of leftover tempered chocolate in the photos for this recipe.
  • For a somewhat less imposing (smaller) cake, downsize the ingredients as follows: 1 1/2 cups each beer and butter; 1 cup cocoa; 3 cups each flour and sugar; 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder; 1 teaspoon salt; 3 large eggs; 2/3 cup sour cream. Bake in two 9" round pans, at 350°F, for 35 minutes. Frost with Super-Simple Chocolate Frosting, with the optional espresso powder added.

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