Mystery solved, this cake is made with beer in the batter. Guinness stout, to be exact. And while I’m not exactly a beer drinker, when I spotted this recipe by Nigella Lawson (you’ll find it here) the combination of dark beer and chocolate sounded intriguing.
There was a heavy malty aroma coming from the kitchen while this cake baked and it appeared from the oven looking dark as night. I cooled it, wrapped it and packed it well for a little trip. A day or two later I whipped up a fluffy white frosting and slathered it on top, as well as in a layer in between (Nigella’s idea is that the white, billowing frosting sitting on top of the dark cakes makes it look like a pint of Guinness).
It’s a lovely cake – not too sweet, with an unusual malty tang and a moist crumb. The taste of the beer isn’t exactly apparent, though there is a wonderful, subtle sour quality which mingles with the chocolate – (Nigella describes it on her website as a “ferrous tang”, and I can’t disagree). It’s a cake I’m happy to add into my rotation.