Guinness cake and contrast

sideMy nan used to drink Guinness. She was a tiny, white-haired sparrow of a woman, and I like to think that the occasional glass of Guinness represented her strong, independent streak. She wasn’t a big drinker. In fact, a 440ml can could last her a week or more (and was often thrown out by my mother!)I remember this vividly, because my brothers and I would vie for nan’s affections to try and win the floating widget that bobbed about inside the can.

canShe was always fair, so we’d end up having to share the task of prying the tall can open to retrieve the tiny ping-pong like widget in there.

Now when I think of Guinness I have this weird mix of associations – there’s my beautiful nan, and there are the proud, outspoken expats I used to serve pints to when I worked at the local bowling club. On one hand I see Guinness as kind of feminist and dainty, on the other hand I think of robust, passionate men who taught me the proper way to pour the dark stout from their seats at the bar.

So I baked and styled my cake in a way that allowed it to be both pretty and hearty; the icing is soft and creamy (kind of like a glass of Bailey’s) while the cake is dense and pretty sinful.

The addition of the green chocolate hearts on top is a bit of a tip to the Irish heritage of the beer, and also makes it seasonally appropriate for the upcoming St Patrick’s Day.

Chocolate Guinness cake:

  • 200g buttersneak
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp bicarb
  • 1 1/3 cups plain flour
  • 300 ml Guinness

Whisky icing:

  • 200g butter
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp Jameson Irish whiskey

mixPreheat your oven to 180°C and grease a 23cm round tin. Cut out a circle of baking paper to fix to the bottom of the tin.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale. Add in the sugar and cocoa, then mix to a thick paste. Add in the eggs and the sour cream – you should notice that it thins out slightly.

guinnessPop in the vanilla and bicarb, then the plain flour and mix slowly so as not to spill any of the flour. Once the flour is completely combined (and there are no lumps), add in the Guinness, being careful not to let it slosh about too much. The Guinness will make the batter considerably more runny, but will also give it a beautiful glossy sheen.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and pop it in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out mostly clean. The cake is so dense and dark that you needn’t worry about having a completely clean skewer…as long as the skewer isn’t covered in raw batter and it will be fine.

sceneOnce the cake is out of the oven and cooled, whip together the butter and icing sugar, then add the vanilla and whiskey. If you don’t have Jameson, any old whiskey will do, but I like the fact that Jameson is Irish. Make sure you don’t put the icing on the warm cake, as it will run off if the cake is too warm.

I’ll put up the chocolate shamrock tutorial tomorrow, if anyone is eager to get decorating their St Patrick’s day cakes.


6 thoughts on “Guinness cake and contrast”

  1. I love this. I love your happy memories of your nan. I have a friend who will have a Guinness or two when we stop out for drinks after work. I’ve tried it, and I have to say I’m not sure my tastebuds like the bitterness of it. Eh..who am I kidding… I hate it. 🙂
    But… I do need to make this cake for her. She will LOVE it!! I’ll surprise her with it for St Patrick’s day!!

    1. That is so cute of you! Honestly, I find Guinness quite bitter as well, but the sugar and the cocoa cancel it out. Also, the whisky icing is so delicious that you’d forgive any bitterness! Thanks for the lovely comment – let me know how it turns out! 🙂

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