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Guinness Stout Cake

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I’m not generally one to drink by myself at home. I’d rather eat my calories any day of the week, especially dessert. But right now in Coronaland, days and calories and beverages and work and meals and food porn and TV seem to sort of blur in and out of each other. And technically it’s still March for like 5 more minutes, so I feel like continuing to post Irish desserts– preferably with both chocolate and booze– is a completely acceptable course of action. I’m guessing that you won’t object too much?

This Guinness Stout Cake came from Bake from Scratch, one of my favorite and most reliable baking sources. And let me preface what I’m about to say by telling you that the finished result was freaking spectacular. This cake is a glorious drunken tower of stout-soaked chocolate cake, bourbon caramel, and a crown of toasted meringue with more caramel drizzled on top. This has got to be one of my top-ever St. Patrick’s Day desserts. But it was very precarious at one point because of one crucial step that I felt was a fail on the part of Bake from Scratch— we are instructed to bake the cake in a 9″ pan, but instructions for removing the cake are not given; and yet, flipping the cake out of the pan when you have just poked holes in it and poured almost a cup of caramel over the top is exceedingly difficult and messy when the cake is wet and heavy and sticky. I managed not to destroy it, but the cake removal was rather inelegant. A springform pan lined with parchment paper would work great here, plus gives you the necessary depth in the pan, so that’s what I’ve recommended below.

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A few recipe notes:

  • Stout beer: Bake from Scratch used Guinness Extra Stout; I rarely use Guinness because I find it so bitter, and instead I prefer either chocolate stout or oatmeal stout. You can choose whichever stout you like– basically the marriage of chocolate and malty stout produces super-moist, balanced, deeply flavored cake perfection. In fact, I didn’t realize how chocolaty the cake would be– in Bake from Scratch‘s photo it looks very light, but this is a deeeep, dark chocolate cake.
  • Meringue: It was super easy to make because the recipe does not call for cooking the egg whites. However, it got weepy and didn’t keep that long the next day. Pros = easy; cons = less stable than cooked meringue. You can use a French/Swiss/Italian meringue if the cake is going to sit out for a while.
  • Baking time: The cake is supposed to bake for 25-30 minutes, but mine was still bubbling in the middle at that point! It baked for 43 minutes, and next time I would leave it for another 2 minutes. Basically, keep an eye on it starting at 25 minutes, but don’t be surprised if it takes another 20.

The moral of this story is that while we’re on COVID-19 House Arrest, we can eat and drink pretty much whatever we want, whenever we want… sometimes at the same time. Go forth and make this very, very drunkenly delicious cake.

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Guinness Stout Cake
Adapted from Bake from Scratch
Makes 1 – 9″ cake

For the cake:

  • 1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (43 grams) dark unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Valrhona
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (227g) whole buttermilk (I used low-fat because I’ve never been able to find whole buttermilk)
  • 6 tablespoons (84 grams) vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup boiling stout beer (I recommend Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout; Bake from Scratch used Guinness Extra Stout)

For the bourbon caramel (makes about 2 cups):

  • 1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ⅓ cup (76 grams) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream, warmed
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the meringue (makes 4 cups):

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) superfine sugar

Make the cake:
Preheat an oven to 350°F and position a rack in the center. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan (3″ deep), line the bottom with parchment paper, grease the paper, and dust the whole inside with flour; knock out the excess. (I would suggest using a 10″ parchment circle so that you can press it up the sides about ½” to prevent any batter from leaking through the bottom.)

Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture, whisking just until incorporated. Add the hot beer, continuing to whisk until smooth and homogenous. Pour the cake batter into the springform pan.

Bake the cake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-45 minutes. (Start checking at 25 minutes, but mine took 43, and I should’ve left it another 2 minutes.) Let it cool for 10 minutes undisturbed; the cake should cool with a level top.

Using the same wooden skewer, poke holes every couple of inches all over the top of the warm cake. Pour ¾ cup Bourbon Caramel onto the cake; let the caramel soak in, and let the cake cool completely in the pan.

Make the caramel:
Do this while the cake is baking/cooling. Bring the sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar to a boil over high heat in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir the mixture frequently and cook until it has taken on an amber color and registers 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter cubes, whisking constantly until melted and combined. Add the cream, whisking to blend it in. (The mixture will sputter and foam.) Stir in the bourbon, vanilla, and salt until incorporated. Let the caramel cool completely. Use immediately or transfer it to a container with a tight cover, and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Make the meringue:
Once the cake has fully cooled, beat the egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed until frothy. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating the mixture at high speed until stiff glossy peaks form, about 6-8 minutes. Use the meringue immediately.

Assemble the cake:
When you’re ready to assemble, gently release the springform clasp and remove the ring. The cake is hard to move around because of the moisture/weight– try to slide it directly onto a serving platter. (I don’t know an easy way to remove the parchment paper from the bottom of a springform cake– just try to separate it from the cake in one spot and peel/pull it carefully from underneath. I personally still find this easier than flipping a caramel-covered cake out of a regular cake pan.)

Mound the meringue high on top of the cake, creating swoops and swirls with an offset spatula. Toast the meringue with a kitchen torch to your desired level of darkness. Drizzle a ¼ cup Bourbon Caramel evenly over the meringue. Serve with the remaining 1 cup of Bourbon Caramel. Tightly cover the cake and refrigerate for up to 3 days (although the meringue starts to get weepy on the second day).

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2020.

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. This includes recipes, photos, and all other original content. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dafna Adler and Stellina Sweets with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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