21 Aug 2010, Robin ‘Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote!!!!’.
2 c plain flour
250 ml stout or porter: you want the darkest, richest beer you can find. The kind that has echoes on your tongue long after you’ve finished swallowing a mouthful. I live near the Best Pub in Hampshire and it makes a porter to die for. Except they don’t make it all the time. Sometimes you have to settle for draught Guinness.
2c dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4c + cocoa: I use about 5T. You could try 6. I probably will the next time I make it.
1 tsp baking soda
Grease and flour an 8” cake pan with collapsible/detachable sides, although if you line it with parchment paper I’m sure you’d be fine with the solid kind. Heat oven to 350°F.
Cream butter and sugar thoroughly. Add eggs one at a time, and beat furiously. It’s going to curdle the minute you add the beer, so you want it as homogenous as possible at this stage.
Blend cocoa with a little of the beer in a separate bowl to make a kind of runny paste, then beat the rest of the beer into the butter/egg mixture. Beat in about half the flour, then sprinkle the baking soda over with about half the remaining flour and beat all that in. Then beat in the beer-cocoa, and last the final one-quarter of the flour. Beer is variable, like so much else in life and baking, and if your batter seems excessively liquid, add some more flour. First time I made this it didn’t rise properly—or rather it rose and then fell in the middle—but it cooked through and tasted great and even the texture was fine. Once I cut it up (supposing you are a master at the craft of cutting up fallen cakes to not show their fallenness, which I am) no one would guess. Next time I made it I allowed myself to paranoiacally add about another ¼ c of flour, and it behaved itself, but beer varies, especially, I think, home-made beer from the Best Pub in Hampshire. You’ll get a finer crumb, the less flour you think you can get away with, but this isn’t necessarily a cake that needs to be very fine.
Pour into cake tin and bake for 60-70 minutes, till it’s risen but (you hope) fairly firm in the middle and pulling gently away from the sides of the pan. Let cool a good half hour before you even try to get it out of the pan.
It’s very good with Earl Grey tea (if you like Earl Grey. Good Earl Grey, not perfumed floor sweepings). Just by the way.