Chocolate Cake for Beginners
Since I began startcooking.com, chocolate cake has been in the “Top 5 List” of the most requested recipes. Finally I have discovered the perfect chocolate cake recipe for beginner cooks. This moist, rich, dense, chocolate cake is one that you will want to make again and again. Many thanks to Nigella Lawson for this perfect recipe!
There are six steps to making this cake
- Prepare the Pan
- Prepare the Ingredients
- Mixing the Ingredients
- Baking the Cake
- Removing the Cake from the Pan
- Making the Frosting
1. Preparing the Pan
This cake is baked in a 9-inch wide (and 2 1/2 -3 inches high) “springform” pan. This type of baking pan has a hinge on the side that expands. This allows you to remove the bottom of the pan from the sides, making removing the cake from the pan really easy.
To begin, the (closed!) pan needs to get “greased” (putting a layer of grease or shortening on the bottom of the pan.) You can grease the pan with butter, shortening, or a non-stick spray. (I used the non-stick spray.)
Then you need to line the pan with parchment paper. Cut the parchment paper to match the size of the pan.
Press the parchment paper to the bottom and sides of the pan. The grease will make it stick.
Be sure to get the pan prepared before you begin mixing the ingredients!
Go and pre-heat your oven to 350 F. degrees (or 180C., Gas mark 4)
2. Preparing the Ingredients
If your measuring is not exact when you are making soups or stews, it will not totally throw off the recipe. However, with baking, measuring must be really accurate! Get all of your ingredients assembled and measured before you start mixing anything together.
Nine ingredients are needed to make the cake. (Don’t make the frosting until the cake is baked, and stone cold.) Measure all the cake ingredients and set them aside:
First, there’s the surprise ingredient that makes this cake so rich – 8 ounces (250 ml) of Guinness stout beer!! (I promise, there is no beer taste to this cake!)
Second ingredient: 1 stick (250gr) of butter, unsalted and cut into slices
Third ingredient: 3/4 cups (75gr) of unsweetened cocoa powder (this is not the same as instant hot chocolate!)
Fourth ingredient: 2 cups granulated of sugar (400gr caster sugar)
Fifth ingredient: 3/4 cups of sour cream (1 x 142ml pot)
Sixth ingredient: 2 eggs
Seventh ingredient: 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract (15 ml vanilla essence)
Eighth ingredient: 2 cups of white flour (275gr plain flour)
Finally, the ninth ingredient: 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda (12.5 ml bicarbonate of soda)
3. Mixing the Ingredients
Part one: the basic chocolate mixture.
Pour the Guinness stout into a 4 quart saucepan…
…add the butter…
…and (over medium heat) stir or whisk until the butter has melted.
Whisk in the cocoa powder…
…and the sugar.
Once the sugar has melted, remove the pan from heat.
Part Two: The egg mixture
Crack the eggs into a small dish, check for shells, and then put the egg into a medium bowl.
Add the vanilla extract…
…and the sour cream.
Whisk these three ingredients together.
Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate.
…it is well blended.
Part Three: Finishing the Batter
Now add the flour…
…and the baking soda.
Whisk everything together until it is totally blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Be sure to scrape the pan clean with a silicone spatula.
4. Baking the cake
Put the cake into the pre-heated 350 F. degrees (or 180C., Gas mark 4) oven.
Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake…
…comes out clean.
Check the cake after 45 minutes. This should be done while the cake is still in the oven! I did it on the counter top just for demonstration purposes. Even though my cake looks like it is not quite cooked in the very center, the pick came out clean so I know it is cooked.
Set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely. Do not remove the cake from the pan until it is cold!
5. Removing the Cake from the Pan
Don’t even think about making the frosting until the cake is stone cold!! This will take a couple of hours for the cake to cool completely.
To remove the cake from the pan, first pop the hinge.
Then just lift the ring off the cake.
The parchment paper will be stuck to the cake. Gently peel off the parchment paper.
If this were a cheesecake, you would just serve it right on top of the metal base of the pan.
This is such a sturdy, moist cake that the bottom of the pan can easily be removed. First put the cooling rack on top of the cake…
…and the bottom of the pan slides right off.
Remove the paper.
Flip your cake dish so that the right side of the dish is facing the bottom of the cake.
The cake will be sandwiched between the cooling rack and the cake dish. Flip the whole thing!
Remove the rack and the cake is ready to frost!
6. Frosting the Cake
Once frosted, this cake is supposed to be reminiscent of a pint of stout – a dense, dark bottom with a frothy white top.
The frosting is made with confectioners sugar, heavy cream (or milk), cream cheese, and vanilla.
Cut 8 ounces (300gr) of cream cheese into cubes and set them in a medium mixing bowl.
Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 15 seconds. You do not want to melt the cream cheese, just soften it a bit.
Sift 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar (150gr icing sugar) on top of the cream cheese.
Sifting the powdered sugar gets rid of any lumps.
Using an electric mixer, whip the cheese and sugar together until it is fluffy and smooth.
Whip in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Add up to 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream (or milk) in small amounts…
…beating after each addition…
…until you have a spreadable consistency.
(NOTE: This is a lot less heavy cream than indicated in the English-metric version of this recipe. English double cream is much thicker than heavy cream and has a consistency of something close to American sour cream.)
Spread the frosting on the top of cake, starting at middle and fanning out to the top edge of the cake.
The sides of the cake do not get frosted.
Although if you love frosting, double the frosting recipe and frost the sides as well! (I wish I had done that!)
WOW! We did it! Want a slice? Or two?
Feast by Nigella Lawson
Recipe: Chocolate Cake for Beginners
- 1 cup of Guinness Extra Stout (as in 8 ounces)
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter – sliced
- 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup of sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (an additional teaspoon may be necessary for the icing – optional)
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 8 ounces of cream cheese
- 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons of cream (or milk)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
2. Pour Guinness into a large saucepan, add butter over medium heat and stir or whisk until melted.
3. Whisk in cocoa powder and sugar. Remove from heat.
4. In a small bowl, beat sour cream with eggs and vanilla and then add to chocolate mixture, whisking until well integrated.
5. Finally, add flour and baking soda, using either a whisk or rubber spatula to incorporate into batter until flour specks are no longer visible.
6. Pour cake batter into greased and lined pan and bake for 45-50 minutes (Check at 45 minutes for doneness, poking a skewer in center.).
7. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
8. When cake is cold, gently peel off parchment paper and transfer to a platter or cake stand.
9. Place cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a mixing bowl, and whip with an electric beater, until smooth. Whip in the vanilla extract.
10. Add cream and beat again until you have a spreadable consistency.
11. Ice top of cake, starting at middle and fanning out, so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.
- 250ml Guinness
- 250gr butter, unsalted and cut into slices
- 75gr cocoa powder
- 400gr caster sugar
- 1 x 142ml pot sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 15 ml vanilla essence
- 275gr plain flour
- 12.5 ml bicarbonate of soda
- 300gr cream cheese
- 150gr icing sugar
- 125ml double cream
- 5 ml vanilla essence (optional)
Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas 4
23cm springform pan
Adapted From: “Feast” by Nigella Lawson