As a compulsive cake baker, I probably didn’t need an excuse to make a chocolate cake, but no matter: I’ve found one regardless. Saturday is St Patrick’s Day, and although in origin a Christian festival, it is now treated as a celebration of Irish identity. When Americans do St Patrick’s day, they go heavy on the green: green cupcakes, green cookies, you can’t move for shamrock sprinkles. Not so here: I’ve plumped for a Guinness cake recipe instead. It remains the best-selling drink in Ireland, is instantly recognisable, and completely delicious – it’s a no brainer if you’re looking to celebrate St Patrick’s Day outside of the pint glass.
It’s a delightfully easy cake to make: the butter is melted into the Guinness and then everything is slowly whisked together before being poured into the cake pan.
Sure this might just look like your run of the mill chocolate cake, but don’t be misled: this is a grown-up cake, earthy and bitter from the Guinness, with a tang from the sour cream, but just sweet enough from the dark brown sugar. The cocoa and sour cream in the cake give a smooth, creamy texture to the cake, worthy of its namesake.
Traditionally, it’s topped with a cream cheese icing, so that it resembles the head of a pint of Guinness. Don’t be tempted to try to make Guinness-flavoured icing: where the stout adds a rich depth to the cake, it does little for the icing – or rather, too much. Let me make those mistakes, so that you don’t have to.
Chocolate Guinness Cake
Makes: 1 23cm cake
Takes: 10 minutes
Bakes: 40 minutes, plus cooling
For the sponge
250g salted butter
80g cocoa powder
200g dark brown sugar
140g Sour Cream
260g plain flour
2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
For the icing
300g icing sugar, sifted
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 g cream cheese, cold
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line the base of a 23cm round cake tin.
2. Heat the butter and the Guinness in a small pan over a low heat until the butter is melted.
3. Stir through the cocoa powder and dark brown sugar.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream and eggs together, then add those to the cocoa-butter-guinness-sugar mix. Fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and pour into the cake tin.
5. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the sponge is starting to come away from the edge of the tin and, when pressed gently with a finger, springs back. Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes, before removing and cooling entirely.
6. Make the icing by creaming the butter and icing sugar together, and then adding the cream cheese until smooth and thick – don’t over whip or it will become runny. When the cake is cool, spoon the icing onto the top of the cake and gently encourage it to the sides with a knife; chill the cake until ready to serve.