It is a family tradition that I make a cake for my husband’s birthday every year in August. For his thirty seventh birthday, my husband had one request: to have Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake with Cream Cheese frosting. Could I possible deny the man of his birthday wish?
Sandy knew exactly what he wanted, as he had tasted this cake when I brought a slice home after attending my south London baking club, Band of Bakers. It was Fleur Bell who made the cake for the Band of Bakers meet up and when I told her it was delicious, she told me she had used Nigella’s recipe. And so did I.
The original recipe that I found on Nigella’s website is perfect, as you’d expect, and really doesn’t need any changes. It’s a soft, crumbly and slightly dry cake, so adding the cream cheese frosting is an essential step to hold the crumbly bits of chocolate sponge together.
What I love about this cream cheese frosting is that it uses both cream cheese and whipped cream, therefore it is lighter than traditional buttercream icing. One thing I noticed though, is that the doses for the cream cheese frosting are too big to cover just the top of the cake, as Nigella advises. I had enough icing to generously cover the top and sides, plus some more left over.
The sponge turned out quite tall (I used a 23cm springform tin as recommended), so I could have sliced it horizontally into two cakes and layer them with the excess frosting. I think it would have made the cake even better, but if you are not a fan of frosting, you may disagree with me. My husband thought that the cake was perfect as it was.
This Chocolate Guinness Cake by Nigella is very rich and sweet. A small slice per person is more than enough as an end-of-a-meal dessert or afternoon treat to go with a cup of tea.
It’s great as a celebration cake for a birthday or another occasion. You can easily make 16 slices out of it if you use a similar sized cake tin as I did.
Prepare the cake one day ahead for best results. The sponge has to be completely cold before you spread the cream cheese frosting. Once you have finished filling and topping the cake and you have decorated it with sprinkles, you should keep it in the fridge for at least one hour for the cream to set. Serve it at room temperature.
I can never wait, so I made the cake on a Saturday afternoon and we ate the first slices the same evening. The cake was still warm and the frosting too soft. The next day, the cake tasted much better, so if you can wait…do! Though I know, when the home is filled with the smell of freshly baked chocolate cake, how can one resist?
I did have to force my husband to take away half of the cake to this office, as I knew we would easily eat it by ourselves. I hope my waistline appreciated my kind gesture, as my husband’s co-workers did!
Yields 12-16 slices.
For the sponge
- 250ml Guinness beer
- 250g unsalted butter, cut in cubes
- 75g cocoa powder, sifted
- 400g caster sugar
- 140ml sour cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 275g plain flour, sifted
- 2½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the topping
- 300g full fat cream cheese
- 150g icing sugar
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 125ml double cream
Preheat the oven to gas mark 160°C Fan. Grease a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin and line with baking paper.
Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter and heat until it is melted. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla. Pour the beer and butter mixture. Whisk in the flour and bicarbonate.
Pour the cake batter into the cake tin and bake for about 45-60 minutes. Leave to cool completely in the cake tin before transferring the cake onto a cooling rack.
Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and cornflour and then beat to combine. Add the double cream and beat until you have a spreadable consistency.
Ice the top and sides of the cake and place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Other cakes I made for my husband’s birthday over the years include these Jamie Oliver Chocolate Celebration Cake with Puffed Rice and Nougat Frosting, Eggless Double Chocolate Cheesecake, Espresso Cake with Bitter Chocolate & Sour Cream Frosting and Bløtkake Norwegian Cream and Fruit Cake.