Friday, 22 October 2010
A dark affair: chocolate, stout, and raisin cake
I have always loved chocolate cakes - more so even than chocolate itself, or at least until recent years, in which time I've had the pleasure of discovering real chocolate. (The sickly stuff of my childhood never did it for me. And yes, I probably was a strange kid.)
But you'll never, ever wean me off chocolate cakes, and for that reason, I hereby confess to spending a shocking proportion of my time seeking out the best chocolate cake recipes.
For the most part, I'm a purist. I don't my my chocolate and/or cocoa messed around with too much. But when I spied a Dan Lepard recipe for a chocolate cake which also incorporates stout and raisins, I couldn't help but be tempted. It was the stout that got me, doctor.
Purist, be damned.
And so, I baked. It's an incredibly easy recipe, and pretty foolproof, so long as you don't heat the chocolate over a fierce flame. Chocolate is a fickle mistress, and likes to be treated gently. Overdo things, come on too strong, and - like most affairs of the heart - it'll all go horribly wrong.
Regard patience as a virtue, and you'll soon enough end up with a generous slab (the recipe doesn't say as much, but you'll need an 8" square tin) of a moist and seductively dark cake, with just a hint of bitterness to offset the richness.
I used London Porter instead of Guinness, but I think - to give Dan his due - Guinness would indeed be better. If you're wary of stouts, or think you don't like them, there's no need to be afraid of the bitter tones in this cake, because (a) they are gentle, and (b) there is, in any case, plenty of sweet chocolate frosting to counter them.
In fact, I thought the recipe made rather too much frosting - I left about a quarter in the bowl. And even doing that, there was plenty on the cake. Mr Lepard clearly has a sweet tooth.
Overall verdict? A real heart stealer, and one that you can enjoy on the side without anyone else knowing... Oh, and it goes well with cream and/or crème fraîche, too, just in case you feel like upping the pleasure levels. Just saying.