If I'm guilty of cultural appropriation, then it will be towards the Irish. From Belfast to Cork, I love the place and all its traditions. One such tradition is the coming together and celebrating of St. Patrick and his day. People across the world enjoy joining in with the celebrations and I love the feeling of connectivity that comes with the 17th March (let's face it, we're all a bit Irish in some way).
I came up with this recipe to celebrate this day and the two iconic drinks that hail from the emerald isle - unmistakably Guinness and Baileys. The rich and malty chocolate cake pairs beautifully with the sweet custardy frosting, laced with that beautiful liqueur.
Just a few notes from me on the recipe and why I do the things I do;
Sugar - You'll notice the two types of sugar I use are caster and light brown. This is done on purpose to achieve the perfect balance of sweetness with caramel notes. If you only have one or the other, then please use you what you have. I did find that dark brown sugar overpowered all other flavours.
Chocolate - I use cocoa and melted chocolate in this recipe for extra antioxidants (I know, who am I kidding). If you do want to use melted chocolate, then I would recommend a high quality bar with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids. If you don't want to use chocolate as well as cocoa, then just leave it out and increase the cocoa to 100g.
Yogurt - The addition of yogurt is to keep the cake moist for days to come, if it even lasts that long. You can always use buttermilk or sour cream for the same effect.
Frosting - You'll notice the rather intricate and somewhat labour intensive frosting recipe I've provided! This is on purpose and I would highly recommend going all out to achieve this beautiful frosting that is like eating clouds. However, I try to stay in the real world and I know that not everyone has the time, patience or energy to spend an hour on frosting.
If this is the case, then you can achieve an equally beautiful buttercream with 250g unsalted butter, 300g icing sugar, 1tsp vanilla bean paste and 3-4 tbsp Baileys. Whip these together in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer and slather over the cooled sponges.
Nutmeg - This might raise a few eyebrows, but it's my own nod to the Jamaican Guinness Punch which mixes condensed milk, Guinness, nutmeg and sometimes cinnamon. I'm a fan and I would highly recommend trying it, but feel free to leave out the nutmeg if you don't want it or have it.
For the cake:
275g self-raising flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
50g cocoa powder
200g caster sugar
200g light brown sugar
250g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
4 large eggs
For the frosting:
2 tbsp cornflour
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 large egg yolks
300ml double cream
2 sheets of gelatin
250g unsalted butter – room temperature
100g icing sugar (to taste)
Freshly grated nutmeg
(See notes for alternative recipe)
Grease and line 2-3 8” round cake tins and pre-heat the oven to 180°c / 350°f.
In a saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the Guinness, yogurt, vanilla and then the eggs – set aside.
In a large bowl (or food processor) thoroughly combine the flour, baking powder, cocoa and sugars. Stir through the wet chocolate and Guinness mix, ensuring the mix is smooth with no lumps.
Divide the batter equally between your tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre of the cake. Please monitor your cakes after 25 minutes as all ovens differ to mine and these cakes can easily under or over bake.
Allow the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack and cooling to room temperature.
For the frosting;
Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for 5 minutes.
In a saucepan mix together the cornflour, sugar, vanilla bean paste, egg yolks and cream. Cook this over a medium heat for up to 10 minutes (possibly more), stirring continuously with a whisk. The mixture will thicken and take on the consistency of cold custard from a carton; once you’re at this stage, remove the pan from the heat, strain the gelatin and stir this through the custard. Stir through the Baileys and then cover the mix with cling film and allow to cool to room temperature. I transfer the mix to a shallow casserole dish, so it cools more quickly.
In a bowl (or stand mixer) whisk the room temperature butter until soft and fluffy and incorporate half of the icing sugar. Add the custard to the buttercream in 3 stages, ensuring it is fully combined. At this stage the mix will be wet and runny, so refrigerate until it is completely fridge cold.
Once cold, whisk again on high until the mix thickens and takes on a thick and creamy texture. Taste the mix as you go for sweetness and add more icing sugar if necessary. This process can take some time, but keep cooling and whipping the frosting until you have a thick and creamy consistency.
Lastly, whisk through some freshly grated nutmeg and do so to taste.
Stack your cakes with the thick and rich frosting and flurry with a final dusting of nutmeg and grated chocolate for that extra little finish – enjoy!