It’s common to hear that people can either cook or bake. Maybe that’s why pastry is an entirely separate program at cooking schools (though most curricula include one course in pastry, it’s a small portion of a curriculum packed with soups, sauces, knife skills, roasting, and stewing), and why there are such things as “chef’s desserts” (think bread pudding or ice cream) or why, when a chef has serious pastry skills (Alfio Giulisano, I’m looking at you), people are really impressed. It’s as if you can do one well, or the other, but rarely both.
I am not a baker.
I love to saute and roast. I can braise with the best of them. Baking, however, was the province of my grandmother: her tea rings were legendary, her Christmas cookies coveted by all of my mother’s friends, who were the happy recipients of the piles of cookies my grandmother made each year.
I decided to make a carrot cake a couple of weeks ago, and though it wasn’t pretty, it was delicious (thank you to Kimberly Kanakes for pointing me towards Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, which was both easy and delicious.
After that success, when Graeter’s and Braxton Brewery approached me about creating a recipe with their new collaboration, Black Raspberry Chip Stout, I thought: I have to do a cake, specifically a moist, dense, chocolate cake. I adapted Nigella Lawson’s Guinness cake recipe, a recipe I’ve made several times before. It’s easy, rich, and the bitterness of the stout works well with the chocolate.
On top, instead of a cream cheese frosting — mainly because I’d just made one, but also because I wasn’t trying to make this cake look like a glass of Guinness– I switched to a simple buttercream, flavored lightly with Chambord.
It’s dense and rich, with just a hint of raspberry.
This is the perfect cake for Valentine’s Day: make it in a heart-shaped tin, and decorate with fresh raspberries. Of course, serve it with a scoop of Black Raspberry Chip on the side (that might be a lot of sugar, but it’s Valentine’s Day, right?), or wash it down with a can of the limited-edition Braxton/Graeter’s stout.
- 1 cup Braxton Brewery Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip Stout (or other stout beer, as this is a limited edition)
- 10 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 3 tablespoons Chambord
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour (or use Baker's Secret, which is flour and cooking spray combined) a 9" cake pan, then line with a parchment round.
- Melt butter and stout in a large saucepan. When melted, remove from heat and whisk in cocoa and sugar. Allow
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Whisk into the slightly cooled stout mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk until combined. Pour into 9" pan.
- Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack without removing from the pan.
- While the cake is baking, combine sugar,
butterand Chambord in a mixer and beat on low until combined, then beat on high until light and fluffy. Store in the refrigerator until about 20 minutes before you wish to frost the cake.
- To frost the cake, remove from cake pan and place on a plate or cake stand. Frost the top (you should have just enough!) using an offset spatula. Store in the refrigerator.