Guinness Cake: Pour yourself a stout - for baking

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With annual St. Patrick's Day celebrations cropping up across the globe this Friday, revelers in both homes and businesses are preparing Irish-themed meals and stocking up on a staple of the day: Irish beer, particularly the signature Celtic brew, Guinness Stout.

According to local bakers like Natasha Garder Littrell, the manager of Dorset Rising, an eclectic Northshire caf and bakery in Dorset, Vt., they're setting few bottles to the side in their kitchens.

"But not to pound them down," laughed Littrell as she monitored a tray of cookies in her oven.

"Guinness is going to be a key ingredient in several cakes," Littrell said. "Along with the traditional Guinness chocolate cake, this year we are working on a coffee cake with stout cream. I'm looking forward to a big piece myself."

Littrell said that the effects of Guinness on baked goods varies, but in general, "it intensifies the chocolate taste, but adds a bitter hint that some like, that can be tempered with other ingredients, such as orange."

South of the border in Williamstown, Mass., Karen Gosselin, owner of the Spring Street Market and Caf , is also prepping for the celebration of green cheer and leprechauns this Friday.

With her own stash of Guinness Stout in the kitchen ready to go, she was gearing up her own version of the Guinness chocolate cake, and agreed with Littrell's assessment on the effect of the brew.

"Oh, yes, absolutely, it's not St. Patrick's Day unless we bake a few things with Guinness, especially the chocolate cake," Gosselin said at the end of a long day, while laying the holiday recipes out before her.

Gosselin also said she will be making some dark chocolate cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream frosting, but the cake will be her centerpiece for a customer's sweet tooth.

"The beer really gives you a deep dark richness in the chocolate," Gosselin said. "It makes things incredibly moist with the yeast and the Guinness. When you have this cake, it intensifies the chocolate experience. Deep is definitely the best word for it."

Gosselin said the cake matches up well with coffee and milk, but for her liking, ice water is the best to drink with it because it "allows the complete flavor of the cake to come through unadulterated."

Back north of the border, Littrell was also asked about an accompaniment for Guinness-baked goods and with no hesitation blurted out:

"Why, Bailey's, of course!"

Irish coffee cake with Guinness Stout cream

(Courtesy of Natasha Garder Littrell)

INGREDIENTS:

4 oz unsalted butter

4 oz sugar

1 cup cake flour

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

3 teaspoons Medaglia Doro instant espresso powder

2 tablespoons hot water

2 large eggs

Coffee syrup

1 cup water

8 oz sugar

Medaglia Doro Instant Espresso Powder to taste

Irish whiskey

Guinness cream

2 cups whipping cream

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

2 tablespoons Guinness

2 oz sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Butter and flour an 8 inch cake pan

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each until light.

Dissolve the instant espresso in the hot water and mix gently in.

Sift the cake flour, salt, and baking powder and fold into the cake mixture until incorporated.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the cake just begins to pull away from the side of the pan.

Cool and de-pan onto a wire rack.

Syrup

DIRECTIONS:

Boil the sugar and water for 1 minute until the syrup begins to look clear. Add the espresso powder to taste. Add the Irish whiskey and Guinness after the syrup cools slightly.

Brush on the cooled cake until the top 1/4- to 1/2-inch of the cake is saturated.

Cream

DIRECTIONS:


Whip the cream with sugar. When soft peaks form add the Irish Whisky and Guinness and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.

Serve the cake with a dollop of cream or spread the cream in fluffy mounds on top of the cake according to your preference.

Guinness Stout chocolate cake recipe

(Courtesy of Karen Gosselin)

Cake

INGREDIENTS
:

2 cups stout (such as Guinness)

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)

4 cups all purpose flour

4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 large eggs

1 1/3 cups sour cream

Icing

INGREDIENTS:


2 cups whipping cream

1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

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.

Reach award-winning freelance journalist Telly Halkias @TellyHalkias.


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