Happy Birthday Frances! or "Happy St. Patrick's Day"3/18/2007 08:38:00 PM
This weekend, my good friend Frances' celebrated her birthday, which coincided with St. Patrick's day. The instructions on her invitation said, "Wear green! Bring Corrs' CDs!". Having neither a green outfit nor a Corrs' CD to hand, I instead slapped some green eyeshadow on, and baked a very appropriate cake - Nigella's Chocolate Guinness Cake.
From the "Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame" chapter in Feast, the Guinness cake is a simple melt-and-mix dealy. Start with some Guinness in a pan, and add butter, cocoa, sugar, eggs, vanilla, sour cream, flour and bicarb. Easy. The recipe says to bake it for 45 minutes in a 23cm tin, but as I wanted it to be shared amongst Frances' many friends, I baked half the mixture in a 20cm tin, with the rest in mini-muffin tins. The mini-muffins took about 20 minutes, and the full sized cake took about 30 minutes. It is a damp and dark cake, so make sure you test it with a skewer rather than just going by eye.
Once it's completely cool, you can ice it. Nigella's icing of choice is cream-cheese based, so that the finished cake resembles a pint of Guinness. I iced the cupcakes on the same day, but did the large cake the next day. This allowed the very moist and damp cake time to cool down and firm up so that I could unmould it without fear of breakage.
I covered the iced cakes with little green sugar sprinkles, for a festive touch. As for the large cake, I did a mixture of little sprinkles, and the green leaves (not shamrocks, but still festive) from a packet of mixed colour sprinkles.
The cupcakes turned out really well! The cake mixture is very moist, and has a fabulous sugary crusty exterior. I think the cream-cheese icing makes a fabulous combination. It isn't too sweet, and the tang really undercuts and complements the sweetness of the cake. I will definitely make the cake again. And with 600ml of Guinness left, how could I not? There's no way I'm going to drink it! Urks.
Frances liked the cake. Yay, success!!