This weekend I decided to make a recipe that’s been sitting in my “to make” recipe folder for almost a year. (I keep meaning to make it around St. Patrick’s Day—and assumedly as the dessert for a supper of Guinness-based beef stew with loads of root vegetables and a nice round of freshly baked soda bread to round out the meal.) But for whatever reason, it never seems to come together and the recipe’s never got used.
It should be said though that despite it taking me ages to get around to putting this cake together, it is nevertheless precisely the kind of homemade cake recipe that really appeals to me. I knew it would produce a rich and flavourful cake since it has two of my favourite things to indulge in as its foundation: rich chocolate and wonderfully, flavourfully complex dark ale. (Well, stout, actually.) The recipe balances the two ingredients nicely so that they aren’t competing with one another or overwhelming the other in the cake’s flavour profile, but rather, they work together well and come together to produce an amazing dessert to follow a Sunday night supper.
The original cake recipe can be found at smittenkitchen.com, a popular cooking blog run by author, blogger, and home chef Deb Perelman. Perelman includes a recipe for a chocolate ganache that is flavoured with coffee and chocolate (something that sweetness notwithstanding would probably help draw out the underlying flavours of the Guinness beer). Ganache icing isn’t really my thing though, so when it came time to accompany the cake, I dusted the top of the cake with sifted powdered sugar and I made a flavoured whipped cream, too. For the whipped cream, I whipped a small container of whipping cream with two tablespoons each of Bailey’s Irish Cream and organic maple syrup (and a teaspoon of vanilla extract) to give the cake some added sweetness and flavour complexity.
The cake is fairly easy to throw together (and with minimal dishes getting dirtied in the process—a plus for Sunday night supper that yields enough leftovers to satisfy an average-sized family into the start of the work week). As long as you keep an eye on the saucepan in which you simmer (but never boil) your Guinness and butter mixture, it’s pretty hard to botch this recipe. Make sure to properly grease your bundt pan, and allow the cake to cool entirely while still set in the pan, and there should be no trouble when it comes time to turn the cake out onto a wire rack or serving plate.
The cake itself is not overly dense, in fact, it has a crumb that is just the right texture to appropriately reflect the denseness of Guinness stout, but still serve as a sweet Sunday night treat. It’s not too crumbly either, and maintains its distinctive bundt-pan shape (and there are for sure some elaborate bundt pan molds out there). Still, I think my favourite thing about this cake (besides its taste), is that while the cake bakes (for a mere 35 minutes), it will fill the entire house with the most amazing and homey smell, so don’t be surprised if family members drift into the kitchen to see what’s going on, and what they’ve got to look forward to indulging in later in the evening.