This cake is a spin on a traditional ginger cake because 1. it has stout in it and 2. it’s a layer cake. I’ve said before that I’m usually not a fan of adding alcohol to cakes for the sake of it, in general I only think you should add alcohol to a cake if it really adds to the flavour. I can’t stand those booze-soaked sponges which taste more like a shot of vodka than they do of cake. However, this is one of my exceptions (other exceptions include my Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake, Cappuccino Cake and Christmas Cake). The stout in this recipe does two things: firstly, it gives the cake a unique malty hops flavour, which really compliments the spiciness of the ginger, and secondly, the stout lightens the cake so you get an almost sponge-like ginger cake, which whilst still treacly and rich, isn’t as heavy as a traditional ginger cake.
Stout is a dark beer made from roasted barley that’s famously associated with the Irish, St Patrick’s Day and poorly pulled pints. The stout most people will be familiar with is Guinness. Despite being from Irish stock, I have to say I have consumed very little Guinness in my lifetime and this is for the simple reason that up until this year Guinness was made using isinglass, which meant it wasn’t suitable for vegetarians or vegans. However, I’m happy to report that draught Guinness in keg format has been vegan since April this year, and production of vegan Guinness in can and bottle formats is currently in production and full distribution is set to be in place by the end of 2017! So we can all celebrate vegan Guinness by making this recipe in December.*
If you can’t wait to make this recipe with Guinness, there are plenty of other vegan stouts and porters available, the most easy to find in the UK is probably Fuller’s London Porter.** Porter is another type of dark beer. A quick Google search for the difference between a stout and porter revealed to me that even most brewers don’t know the difference between the two, so either can be safely used in this recipe.
Now, I’m not an advocate of ‘boy things’ and ‘girl things’, I think that anything can be for anybody, especially cake. However, I do tend to find it more difficult to bake celebration cakes for my male family and friends, simply because I feel pressured to make something ‘masculine’. There seem to be a million and one lavender and lemon Mother’s Day cake recipes online, but very few non-chocolate cakes that are suitable for Father’s day. I think this cake could be the answer. Saying that, this is by no means a ‘male cake’, (Like I said, I truly do not believe such things exist. If your dad wants raspberry and rosewater sponge for his birthday, great! If your mum wants this cake for her birthday, even better, let me know what she thinks of it!) this cake is perfect for any birthday or celebration, especially St Paddy’s Day or Christmas, who doesn’t want a spicy, rich slab of ginger cake at Christmas?
For the cake
- 350g black treacle
- 250ml of stout or porter
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 2 medium eggs
- 230g of dark muscovado sugar
- 110g butter
- 250g self-raising flour
- 1.5 teaspoons of ground ginger
- 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon
For the buttercream
- 140g unsalted butter
- 205g icing sugar
- A dash of milk
- A dash of vanilla essence
PREHEAT OVEN TO 180˚C / GREASE AND LINE TWO 20cm ROUND CAKE TINS
- Combine the stout and treacle in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiled remove from the heat and add the baking powder. The liquid will foam, allow to settle and cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick and pale.
- Add the butter, flour and spices and continue to whisk until well combined.
- Add the cooled stout mixture to the batter and whisk to combine. The batter should be extremely wet, don’t panic it’s meant to be like that.
- Carefully divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
- For the buttercream, beat together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla, until light and pale. Add a little milk, or a little more icing sugar if needed.
- Once cooled, you can start to ice and assemble and decorate your layer cake.
*When I emailed Diageo about this (yes, I emailed Diageo about this) I was told that Guinness will never be marketed as vegan, so don’t expect to see little “V”s on the back of your beers.
**When I emailed Fuller’s Brewery (I know, I’m awfully sad) I was told that all Fuller’s bottled beers are vegan friendly with the exception of their Honey Dew ale, which is unsurprisingly (or maybe surprisingly) made with honey.