Today is August 3, otherwise known as the joyous day of my birth. This is the day I joined my parents and two sisters, making them all wonder what they had gotten themselves into. I almost died a few days later and left them forever, but since I didn't, since I instead stuck around to cause years and years of headache for them (sorry, family), happy 27th birthday to me.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: The best thing about birthdays is cake. Usually it's me making the cake for someone else, but yesterday I felt like the luckiest woman in the world when my husband baked me a Chocolate Stout Cake. The cake turned out pretty impressively for a novice (he's been known to bake me a cake before on my birthday, but as cakes go, he has probably made fewer than five). Plus, making the cake gave my husband an excuse to go for a trip to the liquor store and ponder over the best stout for the job. The final winner? A Young's Luxury Double Chocolate Stout. Who could object to that?
I think my husband knows me rather well because when I got back from a hot run yesterday and his cake was in the oven, he had a mini glass bowl of batter for me with a little spoon in it. Batter=yum. Sister F take note. (Said sister has previously denied me fluffy, happy spoonfuls of poppy seed cake batter, fearful of her precious creation being ruined by the absence of a few spoonfuls of batter. Perhaps she just needs a little more experience to know that 1) it hardly makes a difference and 2) cake is made to be enjoyed?)
Chocolate Stout Cake
This cake comes from the Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington, MA, but is on the Epicurious website. This is a good cake. It is what chocolate cake should be, particularly chocolate birthday cake: dense, very moist, impressively large like an imposing mansion, (yes, this is, without a doubt, the mansion of chocolate cakes) and intensely chocolatey, with a chocolate ganache filling and frosting (ganache is just a fancy name for heavy cream mixed with melted chocolate until it glistens). No one else claimed to be able to taste the stout in this cake, but I swear I could. And then there is the addition of sour cream, whose tanginess is a perfect foil to the sweetness of the chocolate and the bitterness of the stout. I'm not just saying all of these nice things because my husband made it or because it is my birthday cake. If you have been searching for the perfect chocolate cake, I have a hunch your search might be over. I think you will be rather pleased with the result.
How-To In Pictures:
Making the Cake Batter:
The butter is melted with the stout over the stovetop before it is mixed with the dry ingredients.
(I copied and pasted this from the Epicurious website; if you want to check out people's comments, click here for the link.) Also, you can read about the cake from a brewer's perspective (my husband's) in a few days by clicking here.
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped (Steve used Baker's Semisweet)
For cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper. Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.
For icing: Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring frequently, about 2 hours.
Place 1 cake layer on plate. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake.