Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chocolate Guinness Cake

On the birthday of Irishman Stephen,
I should bake him a hoax to believe in.
He might think that it's true
That his favorite brew
Comes in cakes 'stead of cans -- how deceivin'!
I realized midway through yesterday that it was my friend Stephen's birthday.  I'm to blame for failing to remember earlier, but so is Facebook for failing to remind me.  Anyway, Stephen has the distinction of being the most Irish person I know.  He's not 100% Irish by blood, but the kid loves Ireland.  He's got shamrock belt buckles and novelty shirts galore, pines almost exclusively after redheads, and drinks Guinness like a bro drinks Natty Ice.

When I realized it was his special day, I knew immediately that I wanted to bake him Nigella Lawson's chocolate Guinness cake.  I also knew that I had to find a way to obtain all the ingredients without access to a car.  I've been meaning to learn how to cycle so I can maybe do triathlons before I run out of time to stay in good swimming/running shape, so I decided to dust off my childhood bike and ride it to the grocery store to gauge my level of biking fitness.

Riding a bike was not like riding a bike.  I did not remember how to do it.  Here's the thing about children's bikes -- they aren't intended for use by adults.  Here's the thing about children's mountain bikes -- they aren't intended for use on treacherous uphill roads.  And here's the thing about children's mountain bikes with six broken gears -- they aren't intended for use at all.

I made it from my house to the grocery store all right; the route is mostly downhill, and I wasn't carrying much.  The way back, though, is a different story.  I huffed and puffed my way up hill after steadily inclining hill, cursing my bike's comically tiny wheels.  The bag of Guinness and perishable dairy items on my shoulders felt impossibly heavy in the midday heat.  Several passing drivers honked and waved to me, not because we actually knew each other, but because All Asians in Gender-Obscuring Bicycle Helmets Look Alike.  Not one of them offered me a ride.

I got off the bike and walked the last three hills, arrived to a gloriously air-conditioned kitchen, and baked Stephen a cake fit for a true Irishman.

Chocolate Guinness Cake
adapted from Nigella Lawson and Stone Soup

  • 14.9-oz can Guinness Draught
  • 250 g unsalted butter (I used margarine)
  • 75 g cocoa powder
  • 400 g granulated sugar
  • 1.5 cups fat-free sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 275 g flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 blocks light cream cheese
  • 180 g confectioner's sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 23-centimeter springform tin.

Heat 8 oz Guinness with the butter in a saucepan until melted.  Stir in the cocoa powder and granulated sugar, beat the eggs with 2/3 cup sour cream and mix in, and whisk in the flour and baking soda.  Pour the batter into the springform tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

While waiting for the cake to cool, combine the cream cheese, 2/3 cup sour cream, confectioner's sugar, and remaining 6.9 oz Guinness with a hand mixer.

Ice the cake liberally, bring it to your friend Stephen, and bring your friend Stephen to an Irish pub.

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