Most of my bakes are just for fun and get gifted to friends/work so if they go wrong and never appear, there’s no comeuppance. No pressure. They are added extras – an edible bonus if you will.
When someone requests something though. Well. That’s when the pressure starts. I had been specifically requested to create this Guinness shaped birthday cake for my uncles 60th birthday.
He loves Guinness, and the party needed a cake.
It was not simple. Not for my limited kitchen surface space anyway.
I mean, normally when I bake I occasionally finish it off with a bit of “proper” cake decoration… y’know, actually thinking a design through and planning it out… but I mean o-c-c-a-s-i-o-n-a-l-l-y (…like once a year at Christmas occasionally). So when I finally got through with this project, I was kinda impressed with myself *ego boost*.
My first attempt almost ended in tears though.
Plan A – make an upstanding Guinness pint glass cake. Four chocolate guinness cakes later, I had split and levelled them into eight. I had my dowls and buttercream at the ready and began stacking. Then… everything crumbled to pieces.
Like. Literally. Picture cake Armageddon in my kitchen.
Delicious crumbs of chocolate Guinness cake, everywhere. The sponge was too moist (but very tasty I might add!) and so when I went in to carve it, it entirely fell apart.
Plan B was an alteration to design. I didn’t want to change the texture or taste of the sponge (I did say it was tasty – I meant it), so I changed the way I would display the cake instead. If I created a flat lay pint glass, the layers of cake wouldn’t need to support each other. Second time lucky. So when the day came, all I had to worry about was my ganache and finishes.
This Guinness sponge cake was carved into a pint glass shape, sandwiched together with cream cheese icing, and then encased in a slightly-to-huge layer of milk chocolate ganache (which was darkened with a little black/brown food dye). After the ganache set, I topped it with some swiss meringue buttercream for the foam and piped on the emblem and lettering.
275g dark soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
50g cocoa powder
175g plain flour
1/4tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cream butter and sugar until pale. Add and beat eggs one by one.
Sift flour, baking powder and bicarb into a separate bowl.
Mix the cocoa and Guinness in a third bowl.
Pour a third of the flour mix into the butter and egg mixture and combine, followed by a third of the chocolate and guinness mix and combine. Repeat process until all the flour and guinness mixes are combined into one bowl.
Divide mix into two 8inch tins and bake for approx 30-40mins (dependent on ovens here so keep an eye it!)
For the cake above, I made this recipe twice so I had 4 even layers. I cooled them, cut them in half (so they were semi-circles) and carved away at the edges so when placed together standing on their cut edge, they resembled a pint glass shape. I then sandwiched them on a cake board with cream cheese filling.
Cream Cheese filling:
(Adapated from Nigella.com)
300g cream cheese
500g icing sugar
125ml whipping cream
Whip up the cream until thick in one bowl. Cream together the icing sugar and cream cheese and then fold into the whipped cream. Use this to “stick” your cake slices together and crumb coat. Once crumb coated, stick it in the fridge until the filling stiffens.
500g milk chocolate, chopped
200g double cream
black food colouring gel
Heat the cream in a pan until it comes to a rolling boil. Immediately take off the heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir continuously until all the chocolate has melted and the mix is smooth. This took me a good 5 minutes or more. Add in a small bit of black food colouring and stir well. Let the mix cool a little so it thickens. Take the cold cake out of the fridge and pour a quarter of the ganache over the cake. Because the cake is cold, the ganache will start to set so move quickly to fix it into position. Pour a little more at a time until you have the shape you want. This should set by itself anyway but I popped it back in the fridge whilst I made the buttercream.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
The writing and emblem, I just piped with melted milk chocolate.
Improvements for next time:
In hindsight, I would have not put quite such a thick layer of ganache on the outside. I got carried away with design and had forgotten to keep ratios of buttercream/ganache/sponge in mind.
Also next time, I will pre-pipe the lettering on some greaseproof paper and freeze. It would be much easier that piping directly on to the cake itself.