Chocolate and Guinness naked cake: baking back to grown-up world

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I come back to this blog after an excessively long break. A break that was needed but that was never planned to be this long. A break because when a little ball of cuteness of 52 cm x 4kg literally bursts into your life your priority list doesn’t just need to be readjusted, it pretty much disappears in front of you, you don’t even remember there ever was a priority list.

I had actually even tried to make a comeback at some point about a year ago, but clearly it was not the right time. The once little ball of cuteness is now still very cute but has become more like a little ball of fun, is now sized 92 cm x 14kg (in just over two years seems really amazing) and she is now noisier and jumpier than ever. The good thing though is that with the noise and mess a bit of independence starts developing too, which means a parent can do something else other than changing nappies, reading over and over the same children’s book, and playing with building blocks; so I can finally allow myself to go back to baking. And, most importantly, baking for adults.

Of course I have switched the oven on during these last 24 months, of course I have baked and laid my hands in the kitchen for something more complicated than microwaving a bottle of milk or making a breakfast porridge, but when I was talking about the priority list (that should be probably renamed the “priority lost”), of course, that included baking too. In the last few months I have become an experienced baker of healthy vegetable muffins, salt-free fruit pancakes, I even ventured into a sugar-free carrot cake (!!!!!), with unsurprisingly mixed reviews. But let’s face it, as satisfying as making healthy and tasty food for your toddler is, that is not proper baking and this won’t definitely become a “mummy baking” blog.

That is why I decided to choose a proper adult treat for my comeback, a delicious chocolate and Guinness cake. The “grown-upness” does not lay in the alcohol alone, especially because that is expected to disappear anyway in the baking (which makes it a suitable choice also for people who prefer to stay alcohol-free) but especially because of the type of beer used. Guinness is a very bitter strong beer with a quite heavy dark malt taste, which complements incredibly well the comforting sweetness of the chocolate and stands up perfectly against the mellow cream cheese icing. And being this a “naked cake”, it doesn’t get more grown up than that :). I tried this the first time a few years ago in a lovely secluded unpretentious coffee place and fell in love with it since. Two days ago was even Saint Patrick’s day, perfect excuse to get a taste of Ireland, so it really seemed the right time go back to it.  Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients

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For the cake:

350gr plain flour

90gr corn starch

300gr butter

300gr brown sugar

4 large eggs

120gr dark chocolate

200 ml crème fraiche

60gr cocoa powder

1.5tsp baking powder

350ml Guinness

1 pinch of salt

For the Icing:

1 vanilla stick

500gr mascarpone

300gr cream cheese

100gr butter (very soft)

500gr icing sugar

Cocoa powder for sprinkling

Cream the butter with the brown sugar. Mix the 2 flours with cocoa and the baking powders, add a pinch of salt. When the butter and the sugar are fluffy and light start adding the powders, eggs and the crème fraiche in alternated batches and mix thoroughly.

Add the Guinnes and incorporate slowly, when the mixture is homogeneous line a cake tin with a little butter and cocoa powder, pour the cake batter and bake for about 45-60 minutes (depending on the oven) at 170-180° C. When the cake is cooked (check always by pinching it with a stick or a knife, it has to come out clean) place it onto a cooling rack and cool down thoroughly.

Place the butter for the frosting and ¼ of the icing sugar into a mixing bowl and mix until the butter is well creamed. Start adding the cream cheese, the mascarpone and the rest of the icing in alternated batches and whip with a whisker. Add the vanilla pods and whip one more time.

Cut the cake in three layers, add one third of the frosting to each layer and sprinkle with a little cocoa powder. You can cut it and decorate it according to your taste, just bear in mind that for fewer layers you will need less frosting.

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