Chocolate Stout Cake

If you've been reading my prior blog posts, you'll see I've been working on this version of chocolate cake for a while now. The whole concept of cake isn't that complicated - flour, sugar, eggs, milk, leavening, flavorings - but finding the right formula for a light, moist, wholesome, intensely chocolate cake is more of a challenge. There's a reason betty crocker can get away with transfats and preservatives in her boxed cake mixes - they're fast and easy!

If you want fast and easy, go read another blog. Seriously. Because while I look for opportunities to cut down on wasted time, this blog is about cooking with love, not cooking with a stopwatch. So if you're in a hurry and you just want something that looks and tastes great (and to hell with what's in it!), then buy a box of Betty and enjoy.

All that said, try not to let the length and detail of the below recipe scare you. If you can be bothered to invest the time in making a cake from scratch, you won't be disappointed. I've managed to repeat a version of this recipe 3 times over the past month and I'm happy with the results: rich chocolate flavor, satisfying sweetness, and moist without being dense. If you're not as big of a chocolate fan, you can swap out the chocolate frosting for a vanilla or mint. And my coworker suggested serving the cake with fresh raspberries, a classic combination.

I promised pictures, but sadly I made the cake Monday while Boyfriend Javelin was still at work and it wasn't until the cakes were baking in the oven that I remembered I had promised pictures. So there are a few pics, but not nearly as many as I had planned. This might be a good thing, otherwise this post might have gone on forever.

Like always, the step by step directions come first, followed by the tips and ingredient list. If you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out. And if you use a different frosting or flavor, let me know because once I feel ready to face chocolate again, I plan to work on variations of this recipe. If you run into problems making this cake, tweet me or post a comment to this blog.

I attempt to make all of my recipes more healthful by eliminating transfats, artificial dyes and flavorings, preservatives, and pre-prepared shortcuts. However, this recipe still contains a great deal of fat and sugar and is thus not a health-conscious food. Out of respect and love for your own body (and for those you cook for), please exercise restraint when consuming cake and other dessert!

Chocolate Stout Cake

    by Javelin Warrior
     Prep Time: 25 min
     Cook Time: 38 min

Ingredients (serves 12)
    Cake Batter
    • 2/3 cup buttermilk, cold and shaken
    • 1/2 cup organic sour cream
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
    • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 1 Tablespoon
    • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup cooled coffee (1/2 cup hot water plus 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee)
    • 2/3 cup chocolate stout
    • Organic shortening, for greasing
    Chocolate Frosting
    • 3.5 oz dark chocolate (80% cocoa)
    • 1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 3 Tablespoons milk
    • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 Tablespoon intense coffee (1 teaspoon instant coffee plus 1 Tablespoon hot water)
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream, very cold
    • 9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 1/4 cups powdered confectioners' sugar
    Cake Batter
    1. Preheat the oven to 350℉
    2. Grease the sides and bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with organic shortening. Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper circle, then grease the parchment paper. Flour both pans and tap out the excess
    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine on low speed the buttermilk, sour cream, oil, eggs and kosher salt
    4. Add the sugar to the mixer and beat on medium-low speed until combined
    5. In a medium bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and baking powder; whisk together to combine
    6. Reduce the mixer to the lowest speed and slowly add half of the dry ingredients. Shut off the mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the prepared cooled coffee and vanilla. On the lowest mixer speed, add the remaining dry ingredients, followed by the chocolate stout. Mix until just combined, then shut off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl
    7. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans; bake the cakes for 38-40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Do NOT check the cakes before 38 minutes (unless you’re unfamiliar with your oven temp) or the cakes will collapse!
    8. Cool the cakes for 35 minutes on cooling racks before turning out the cakes onto the racks. Allow the turned-out cakes to cool completely before icing (another 45 minutes approx)
    Chocolate Frosting
    1. While the cakes cool, you can start the frosting. Combine the chopped dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk and 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on HIGH for 10 second intervals until the chocolate is melted, string vigorously between each interval
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cold heavy whipping cream and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Whip the cream and sugar together on high speed until the heavy cream turns into a very thick whipped cream or whipped butter-like texture
    3. On low mixer speed using the paddle attachment, combine the remaining butter with the whipped cream; slowly add the powdered sugar to the cream/butter mixture until it begins to thicken and resembles a loose frosting (about 1 3/4 cups)
    4. Add the vanilla, coffee and cooled melted chocolate to the frosting and mix until well combined. Add the remaining powdered sugar as necessary until the frosting is smooth, creamy and spreadable
    5. To ice the cakes, place 1 cooled cake flat side up on a plate (elevated by a bowl or cake pedestal). Spread the frosting (about 1/4 inch thick) over the top of the cake layer with a butter knife or offset spatula. Place the second layer on top (flat or rounded side up) and spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake
    An original recipe by Javelin Warrior. © 2010 Javelin Warrior. All rights reserved.
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    • If you want to simplify this recipe, you can use canola oil instead of peanut oil. The peanut oil does have a distinct flavor, but I frequently use it because it’s better for you than canola oil 
    • Organic sour cream has a more subtle flavor (less harsh, more creamy) than non-organic sour cream 
    • If you’re on a reduced calorie/fat diet, you can sub out regular sour cream for fat-free sour cream; you can try substituting fat-free buttermilk for regular buttermilk (mine was listed as 2%), but I haven’t tried making this with fat-free anything... 
    • If you can’t find chocolate stout, you can use another stout like Guinness - but you will loose some of the chocolate flavor. Add a little more coffee (tablespoon) and a little more cocoa powder (tablespoon) 
    • If you have dark brewed coffee hanging around, you can use that instead of the instant coffee. I never drink coffee, thus the instant 
    • Splurge and use a high-quality cocoa powder (instead of the local store branded stuff) - it makes a big difference in the intensity of the chocolate flavor. I used Hershey’s, but there are plenty of others that are even better 
    • You really do have to line the bottoms of the cake pans with parchment paper and you really do have to butter and flour everything. Trust me - I tried to take a shortcut without the parchment paper and I couldn’t get the cakes out without destroying the bottoms 
    • If you don’t finished the cake in one sitting, then cover and store in the fridge. Bring it out from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving so that the frosting has a chance to soften 
    • When icing a cake, start at the center and work your away out and down the sides, adding more frosting when necessary 
    • Be patient when icing the cake and scrape off excess icing from your knife or spatula frequently. You can also dip your blade into very hot water to clean it (and to help you spread the frosting more easily) 
    • A number of people suggested some variations on this recipe including adding hazelnut extract, raspberry puree, fresh raspberries alongside, and mint extract. I plan to try each of these in the future: crumbled hazelnuts between two layers, raspberry puree as a replacement for some of the liquid/sugar, mint-flavored frosting, orange zest in the batter, etc

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    1. I want to go to there.

      I am totally going to bake this when finals are over. Question, though: I like to invite my friend Will and his bf over, and his bf is Muslim, and so Chocolate Stout is a no-go (alcohol in general -- I never realized how often I cooked with wine until I couldn't cook with it anymore). What would you recommend to replace the liquid the chocolate stout adds without upsetting the flavor balance?

    2. awesome, i'm glad you'll try it. the choc stout has a unique flavor combo of chocolate, coffee, and of course alcohol, so that's why i picked it. but i'd suggest replacing the 2/3 cup stout with an additional 1/4 cup coffee, additional 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder, and 1/3 cup LESS flour. that should work out pretty well because the first time i made this i didn't use stout (and i decided it needed more coffee and more chocolate).

    3. I shall make said substitutions! Because this recipe looks intimidatingly difficult for a novice baker like myself, I have asked a friend to come over and we are going to attempt to bake the big chocolate cake together.


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