Saturday, March 17, 2012
Everyone needs a good chocolate cake in their repertoire, although I have to admit it's a thing I think about making more often than I actually do. I've got a few goodies up my sleeve, this one for example, but I'm pretty fussy having eaten more than my fair share of average chocolate cake in my time. One recipe had been recommended so many bloody times I finally cracked this week, since St Patrick's Day was looming and guinness was in abundance at the supermarket.
I had my first ever pint of black gold in a pub in Ireland, where a covers band was playing Dirty Old Town. A group of us were doing a trip around for our Easter holidays, and having warmed up on whiskeys in Dublin, we'd bussed across to hit the Guinness in Galway.
Our hostel room had two bunks: my friend Gwen below me, and two Australian girls we'd befriended at the bunks across. A raucous night in this very cool town saw me safely make it home, remove my contact lenses, and soundly go to sleep on the top bunk in room 105. When I awoke, I squinted my hardest and whispered to Gwen to see what time it was, but when I received no response I uncoordinatedly lumbered down and got my face right up close to the body in the bed below. I quickly realised this was in fact not the long blonde haired Gwen, but a bearded man who looked possibly of South American descent. Still squinting I looked around to realise this room had 3 bunks and no one familiar in it. I gingerly tiptoed out, genuinely bewildered and embarrassed to find the room I'd found myself in was in fact room 132. I did the long long walk down the hostel corridor back to room 105 to find 3 girls laughing accusingly with calls of "where did you get too?" I couldn't tell them and they thought it was hilarious. Guinness makes me sleep walk, apparently.
It set the tone for the trip really, and not only did we tick off a pint in every town, I managed to swipe a Guinness pint glass from a pub which made it back to England, then to Auckland, and even down to my first flat in Wellington.
And so. Beer in a cake, you ask accusingly? Yes. What it does, is give it a rich, malty depth which adds a lot to a cake which only has cocoa for the chocolate element. Like I said, I'm fussy, so it's rare I'll make a chocolate cake that doesn't contain the real, dark stuff melted down, but this one really is up there. I think this was made particularly delicious because I'd shelled out on the best ingredients - I treated myself with fancy expensive blooker dutch cocoa and fancy expensive vanilla extract too. Top this with Nigella's luscious cream cheese icing and you have yourself an impressive beer inspired masterpiece.
So whether it's a birthday, an anniversary or just because you've got some guinness in the fridge, when a chocolate cake is required, and what Saturday afternoon doesn't need a chocolate cake really? This one comes through with the goods. Simply melt, whisk, beat, stir and bake.
Nigella's Chocolate Guinness Cake
from her book Feast and also available here on her website.
250g unsalted butter
400g caster sugar
142mL sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat oven to 180C, and butter and line a 23cm springform tin.
Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter - in spoons or slices - and heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the saucepan. Finally, whisk in the flour and bicarb of soda.
Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour (mine needed an hour). Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
Ice when cold with cream cheese icing, recipe available by clicking here.
Nigella reckons you should ice it "so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint" and who am I to argue with that?
Right. I'm off to drink some Guinness and pash some Irishmen.
Happy St Paddy's day everyone!