Sunday, 27 November 2011

a 'fake' birthday with a chocolate guinness cake

o's chocolate  guinness birthday cake
it is k.b.t.'s birthday on fifth december and he (unlike me) is very fortunate to celebrate each growing year with his siblings. this year's celebration came early as one of his siblings  is travelling on his actual birthday. to me there can be no birthday sans cake so i baked a really fudgy and rich guinness chocolate cake. a rather petulant o kept reminding me that it is his fake birthday but that was before he cut and ate his cake. 

guinness chocolate cake has been on my list of cakes to bake for a while. it is to me a perfect birthday cake especially for grown ups. the bitter coffee like flavour of guinness compliments chocolate very well. whilst pales ales tend to lighten stews and batter, stout has the opposite effect by concentrating flavours giving a dense batter. in this chocolate cake the guinness makes the batter bake to give a close fudge texture with a very compact crumb. it has the same effect on chocolate as does espresso but with a sharper and slighter bitter edge. the cream-cheese frosting is therefore the perfect addition as its sweet creaminess balances the cake. nigella captures that relationship between the frosting and the cake as echoing the pale head that sits on top of a glass of stout.

my way of baking the chocolate guinness cake is a combination of gizzi erskine, nigella lawson and the humingbird bakery's recipes for this cake. i borrowed from the hummingbird bakery's recipe the use of buttermilk in the cake batter and the recipe for the cream-cheese frosting. from gizzi's recipe i took the use of chocolate in addition to the cocoa. i also used soft brown sugar in place of caster sugar. my reasons for doing so were confirmed in the final cake. the buttermilk adds an element of lightness and tartness to the batter as opposed to the sour cream called for by both nigella and gizzi. the chocolate along with the cocoa ups the chocolate factor in the cake and the brown sugar has a lesser sweetness than caster sugar allowing the cream-cheese frosting to take centre stage. here's my adapted chocolate guinness cake recipe. i used a deep twenty-one cm cake tin to give the cake more height as i like tall birthday cakes. all three of the original recipes call for a twenty-three cm pan.

250 ml guinness
250 grams unsalted butter
100 grams chocolate (i use menier 70% swiss dark chocolate)
400 grams soft brown sugar
35 grams cacao (i used green and blacks)
2 free range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
140 ml buttermilk
280 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a well greased cake-tin (see above for size)

  place the first four ingredients in a saucepan on a very low heat so that they melt together. give the pan an occasional stir to ensure that they are melting evenly. once they have done so remove the pan from the heat, add the cacao and stir through the mixture.

at this stage you can pre-heat the oven to a hundred and eighty degrees celsius. whisk together the eggs, vanilla and buttermilk by hand in a jug or bowl before adding them to the sweet chocolate and beer mixture.

sift the flour and raising agents together into a large mixing bowl. then add the mixture from pan into the flour and whisk by hand just enough to get a smooth batter. your batter will look bubbly and effervescent. pour it into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

let the cake cool in the tin before you turn it out. this is quite a damp cake and it make have a tendency to stick to the sides. frost the cake only when it is absolutely cool. 

to make the cream-cheese frosting beat together 50 grams of unsalted butter with 250 grams of icing sugar until the mixture resembles coarse sand. then incorporate 125 grams of full-fat cream-cheese. whatever you do don't scrimp on the full-fat cream-cheese. you need a creamy soft icing for this cake! i frosted the cake in the morning leaving it to have a rough and wavy finish. i am sure gizzi's and nigella's cream-cheese frosting would taste reall good but thought it wouldn't be firm enough as the hummingbird bakery one which is why i chose it.i piped the initials of o's nickname k.b.t on top of the frosting in red. 

sadly, my birthday cake's are never as glamorous since i moved away from home. i am hoping that next year i'll be getting some 'mum-made' cake or perhaps something less christmas like than this year...

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