Stout and other dark beers are often described as having chocolatey overtones,
so this combination might not be as far-fetched as one might initially think. The
flavor of this cake is multi-dimensional: the presence of the stout gives it a much
more interesting finish; the hops from the beer act as a counterpoint to the sugar
in the cake. It's an incredibly moist cake, too, and its rich, dark color comes
mostly from the beer. This recipe makes two tall, imposing layers; be sure your
9" cake pans are at least 2" tall, or use 10" pans if you have them. For a smaller
dessert, see the bottom tip, at right.
2 cups stout or dark beer, such as Guinness
(4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8" or two 9" cake pans,
and line them with parchment paper circles. Be sure your 9" pans are at least 2"
For the cake: Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan, and heat
until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the cocoa powder.
Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream.
Add the stout-cocoa mixture, mixing to combine.
Add the flour mixture and mix together at slow speed. Scrape the sides and bottom
of the bowl, and mix again for 1 minute.
Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. (See tips section for hints
on weighing out the batter if you have a kitchen scale.)
Bake the layers for 35 minutes for 8" pans, or 45 to 50 minutes for 9" pans,
until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from
the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their
pans and returning to the rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.
For the frosting: Place the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring
the cream to a simmer in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is completely
Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until the icing is spreadable, stirring occasionally,
about 2 hours.
To assemble: Trim one cake layer to have a flat top, if necessary (otherwise
the layer will crack when you place it upside down on your cake plate).
Line the edges of a serving plate with parchment or waxed paper to keep it clean,
and then place the layer upside down on top. Spread 2/3 cup of the icing over just
the top of the layer.
Top with another cake layer, top side down, and repeat the process. If you baked
three layers, add that one also.
Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Remove the
parchment or waxed paper.
Sprinkle with shamrock sugar decorations, if you have
Hands-on time: 25 mins. to 35 mins. | Baking time: 45 mins. to 50 mins. Total
time: 1 hrs 10 mins. to 1 hrs 25 mins. | Yield: 1 large cake, 16 servings
Tips from our bakers
If you're using salted
butter, decrease the salt in the recipe to 1 teaspoon.
If you're buying Guinness in cans (they list 14.9 ounces on the label), use 1
can and make up the difference in volume with water.
If you're making 2 layers, be sure your 9" cake pans are at least 2" deep. If
they aren't that tall, use three 8" layers instead.
The batter for this cake weighs 5 pounds, 15 ounces or 95 ounces. If you have
a scale, a two layer cake should have 2 pounds, 15 1/2 ounces of batter in each
pan. For a 3 layer cake, each layer should weigh 1 pound, 15 1/2 ounces.
If you have access to chocolate disks or chips that are pure chocolate, they'll
melt more quickly when making the frosting. We used a bit of leftover tempered chocolate
in the photos for this recipe.
For a somewhat less imposing (smaller) cake, downsize the ingredients as follows:
1 1/2 cups each beer and butter; 1 cup cocoa; 3 cups each flour and sugar; 2 1/4
teaspoons baking powder; 1 teaspoon salt; 3 large eggs; 2/3 cup sour cream. Bake
in two 9" round pans, at 350 degrees F, for 35 minutes. Frost with Super-Simple
Chocolate Frosting, with the optional espresso powder added. This downsized version
also makes 30 standard-size cupcakes; bake them for 18 to 22 minutes, then remove
from the oven, cool, and frost.