OK, I have to confess straight up, this cake didn’t exactly go to plan.
I had tasted the Guinness chocolate cake that a friend had made recently and I wanted to have a go myself. There was a bake off coming up for work (it was for the homelessness charity Shelter but I was more interested in the competitive element really) and I thought this deliciously dense cake with its tangy cream cheese frosting could be a winner. I even thought I could potentially improve the recipe because I used Young’s Double Chocolate Stout instead of Guinness.
I found the Hummingbird Bakery recipe online, did a practice run and all went to plan. The prototype cake was wolfed down in minutes when I took it to a barbeque at my sister’s house. But when it came time to make my competition entry I made the fatal error of not greasing the sides of my cake tin enough. It stuck all around the edges, creating lots of crumbs that mixed with the icing and ruined the pristine creamy look. I had to dust the top with cocoa powder to try and disguise my disaster.
So, sadly, the cake in the photo above is not what this cake should look like. Hopefully it’ll just taste as good. By the time this post is published the bake off will be over, but with this second rate crumb-filled cake nightmare I don’t really rate my chances of victory.
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F)/gas mark 3, then line the base of the tin with baking parchment and grease the sides of your cake tin well!
2. Pour the Guinness or stout into a saucepan, add the butter and gently heat until it has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the cocoa powder and sugar into the warm liquid. Mix together the eggs, vanilla essence and buttermilk by hand in a jug or bowl, and then add this to the mixture in the pan.
3. Sift together the remaining sponge ingredients into a large bowl or into the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer. Using the mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric whisk, set on a low speed, pour in the contents of the pan. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are incorporated.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool, and then remove from the tin on to a wire rack, making sure the cake is cold to the touch before you frost it.
5. Using the electric whisk or the freestanding mixer with paddle attachment, mix the butter and icing sugar together until there are no large lumps of butter and it is fully combined with the sugar in a sandy mixture. Add the cream cheese and mix in a low speed, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
6. Place the cooled cake on to a plate or cake card and top generously with the cream cheese frosting. The cake can be decorated with a light dusting of cocoa powder.