If cakes had personalities this one would be moody, dark and intense. Not surprising given its ingredients; Guinness, cocoa, buttermilk, mascarpone, white chocolate, dark chocolate and vanilla pods.
I made this damp and rather sophisticated creation not just because my husband is a cake addict and as a wife I like to please him, nor because I'd been dying to use some of the 50 giant vanilla pods my dad sent me from France, but because today at work it was my turn in this weeks Rate My Cake.
I introduced Rate My Cake at the office to give us some tasty, playful fun once a week, bringing us ladies together over sweet baked treats. But what began as a light hearted (WI style) affair quickly turned rather serious and competitive (army style - strategic and deadly), and I've since heard it referred to as Cake Wars.
You don't need to introduce this game at work in order to make this cake though, fear not. But, it is rather impressive tasting so would lend itself well to a dinner party, or it would perhaps make a nice gift for a cake or chocolate loving friend. Alternatively, bake it and scoff the lot yourself.
You can't really taste the Guinness in it once its cooled, but its partly the black stuff that gives it its colour and damp darkness. The base is dense but not overly so, and the white ganache coating perfectly balances the darkness with a spike of vanilla infused sweetness.
PS...I originally got the recipe for this from the gorgeous Hummingbird Bakery on Stylist.co.uk and have adapted it a bit and changed the frosting - and in case you're wondering, I'm currently in the lead in Rate My Cake!
For one cake, 23" diameter:
1 fat vanilla pod
250g unsalted butter
80g cocoa powder, sieved
400g golden caster sugar
280g plain flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp baking powder
A scrunch of sea salt
The ganache frosting
1 fat vanilla pod
100g cream cheese
100g good quality white chocolate, broken into pieces
3 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, sieved
25g unsalted butter
Dark chocolate for grating
- Preheat your oven to 170degrees
- In a saucepan place your Guinness, deseeded vanilla pod and stem and butter and cook on a low heat until the butter has melted, then remove from the heat
- Add the beaten eggs and buttermilk to the pan and stir to combine, then add the sugar and sieved cocoa
- In a large mixing bowl combine the sieved flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt and then pour over the pan contents
- Using a hand blender (or do it all in your Kenwood if you have one) bring the mixture together until its all combined and is nice and glossy and thick
Top Jamie Oliver tip alert...
- Take your cake tin or silicone mould (make sure its a deep one as otherwise the mixture will overflow) and tear off enough baking parchment so that it will fit inside and give a good overhang. Now scrunch the parchment up into a ball and run it under the tap, soaking it through
- Now straighten it out on your work surface and butter one side of it, and now you can lay it into the baking tin with the butter side up. The paper being wet will mean you can get it into the corners properly and it wont pop out
- Pour the mixture into the tin and pop into the oven for 40 minutes. Depending on how your oven behaves 40 minutes might be enough, but mine needed an extra 12 on top - basically check it at 40, if there is no wobble in the centre then spear it with a knife and if it comes out clean its done. If not keep going and check and spear it regularly - you want to remove it as soon as its done and the knife comes out clear
- Leave it for around 20 minutes before lifting it out by its paper (with the help of someone else so that you have all four corners covered and don't make it crack down the centre) and pop it onto a cooling rack
- If your cake sinks in the middle don't worry, simply use a bread knife to cut some of the top off to even it up
- Once its totally cooled (don't frost it or move it until it is) pop a plate on the top and turn it over, peel off the baking parchment and then turn it back onto the rack, now put your cake stand or whatever its going to be staying on over the top and turn it back over ready for icing )you will effectively be icing its bottom)
- Into a glass bowl over simmering water (that isn't touching the glass) break your chocolate and scrape the seeds out of your other vanilla pod
- Once the chocolate has melted take it off the pan of water and onto a work surface. Add to the bowl the icing sugar, butter, mascarpone and cream cheese and using your hand blender bring it together until its all combined
- Now its time to get plastering (don't worry if you cant get it smooth its all part of its charm). Using a spatula smooth the ganache over the top of the cake and then around the sides until its been covered, finally give it a liberal grating of dark chocolate and then set it aside for the ganace to set a little - this will take around 30 minutes
- Devour - goes well with a cup of tea or a slug of dessert wine.