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Chocolate Stout Cake for a Blustery Day

By Chef Megan Joy / February 26, 2012

It’s almost March! Growing up in the midwest, March makes me think of blustery, grey days. It meant that Spring was coming, but first you had to endure this last Wintery tantrum.

In the Rockies, March is a little different. We still get snowstorms, but the snow melts quicker, and the temperatures rise into the 40’s. Paired with some Colorado sunshine, you can actually work up quite a sweat if you’re outside. Nearly a year ago my little brother was visiting and on our snowshoe expedition he stripped down to a T-shirt.

Yesterday it was very windy. Watching the aspens sway, and hearing the gusts against my house, I couldn’t help but think of March. March also reminds us of another upcoming holiday: St. Patrick’s Day.

That’s why this chocolate stout cake is nearly perfect for this time of year. Not only is it probably one of the best chocolate cakes you will ever taste, but it can be dressed up for the occasion. Perhaps top it with some Bailey’s buttercream, and serve it on a plate with a little Jameson caramel sauce?

This is my high altitude adjusted version of Nigella Lawson’s chocolate Guinness cake. It can be baked in a 10-inch cake pan and dressed like a torte, but it also works well in a 9 x 13 pan. I think it tastes best when it’s baked in a pan that allows it to retain some thickness. The cake is so moist and the epitome of what we all look for in a slice of luscious chocolate cake.

A stout beer or chocolate stout beer from your local brewery will also work nicely in place of the Guinness. Unless, of course, you wish to go all-out Irish.

Chocolate Stout Cake (adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson)
6 oz butter
12 oz stout beer
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream, creme fraiche, or Greek yogurt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 F. In a large sauce pot, melt the butter and beer together over medium-low heat. When melted, remove the pot from the heat and add the cocoa powder and sugar. Whisk until smooth. In another bowl, combine the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Add to the beer mixture and whisk well. Last, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; then add to the beer mixture. Stir until just mixed. Pour into a greased and parchment-lined pan. Bake for 25-40 minutes, depending on the size of your cake pan. The cake will still look slightly wet in the center. As long as the center springs back lightly when touched, the cake is done. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then invert to finish cooling completely. Enjoy the cake plain, topped with powdered sugar, or covered in a Bailey’s buttercream. Mocha and cream cheese frostings also go nicely with this cake.

About the author

Chef Megan Joy

My Family Visits, And A Live Edge Table | HIGH ALTITUDE BAKES - March 9, 2012

[…] baked a loaf of Vanilla-Scented Butternut Squash Bread to have on hand for snacking, as well as Chocolate Stout Cake. We actually filmed the whole production and baking process of the Chocolate Stout Cake and hope to […]

Homemade “Funfetti” Layer Cake | HIGH ALTITUDE BAKES - July 19, 2012

[…] ago, my friend Dane was quizzing me on cake baking from scratch. He’s a huge fan of the my high altitude-friendly chocolate stout cake. I mentioned making homemade “funfetti” cakes before. His eyes got a little big as I […]

Ramee Hyde - March 15, 2013

What temp do you bake this cake at?

Christina - March 16, 2013

What temperature should the oven be for this cake?

    Chef Megan Joy - March 19, 2013

    350 F. Sorry I accidentally left that part out- kinda important! The recipe has been updated. Thanks!

Ramee Hyde - March 18, 2013

I baked cupcakes at 350 using this recipe with bailey’s buttercream. They came out perfect! Thank you so much for all that you do for us high altitude home cooks!!!

Merinda - September 15, 2013

Thank you for sharing – baked and it was a perfect, delicious recipe!

Cameron - September 27, 2013

Hi there! I know this post is a bit old, but just in case you check it- if I wanted to make this a 3-layer birthday cake, would I triple the recipe? Is the recipe as it is only for one 8 or 9″ round pan? Thanks so much!

    Chef Megan Joy - September 28, 2013

    Hi Cameron- This recipe will definitely give you two 8″ or 9″ round layers. Doubling it will give you three thick layers or four layer with minimal trimming. The recipe as is makes a 9″ springform pan (this pan makes a very thick cake). Happy baking!

ALLISON SARCHETT - September 28, 2013

Hello. I can’t wait to try several of your chocolate cakes including this one, the ding dongs and the hot chocolate torte. I was wondering if you use regular or Dutch process cocoa in these recipes? Also, I have starting weighing my ingredients when baking, but the correct weight of one cup of AP flour is unclear. I’ve seen anywhere from 4.25 – 5 oz. What do you use when baking? Thanks!

    Chef Megan Joy - September 28, 2013

    Hi Allison- When I weigh my ingredients I almost always use grams. One cup of all-purpose flour is 142 grams. Generally speaking, I like cocoa powder that is high fat content (22-24%) and dutch-process. I really like Cacao Barry brand cocoa powders. If I’m in a pinch, I’ll go to the grocery store and buy Ghiradelli cocoa powder which is non-alkalized and only 10-12% fat. I use it for the same recipes and they both come out tasty, but I like my high fat, dutch-process powders better. They produce a very rich, chocoately product that is also a beautiful dark color.

Cameron - October 7, 2013

So, I made this cake for my husband’s birthday and it was amazing! I filled it with a peanut butter cream cheese mousse and cascaded some ganache over the top. This cake was so moist and just the right amount of sweetness. Your recipes are a life saver! I moved to CO a year ago and had given up on baking for a while after some pretty epic failures. Thanks to you, my kitchen smells sweet again 🙂

Kaylin - December 1, 2013

Hi I made your carrot cupcakes and they turned out great! Now I’m looking for a chocolate cake recipe for a birthday cake. Since moving to Colorado I haven’t had great success with making birthday cakes. This chocolate stout cake recipe looks delicious, but the party is for a bunch of 6 year olds so I’d prefer something without alcohol. I know much of the alcohol is lost in the baking process, but still . . . Any suggestions?? Thanks!

Mary - January 1, 2014

Does it matter if the pan is glass or dark metal? Also, this is a rookie question – but why do you grease the pan and line it with parchment? Thanks!!

    Chef Megan Joy - January 1, 2014

    Hi Mary, if you use a dark pan, it will bake faster so just monitor the cake so it doesn’t get overbaked. I grease my pans and then line with parchment as ‘insurance’. Products with high sugar stick to pans, and I hate when I invert a cake or loaf pan and the center is left behind! So, that’s just my way of making sure it never happens 🙂 Happy baking!

Kelsey - February 12, 2014

Hi Megan-

First off, your recipes have restored my faith in baking at high altitude! So thanks 🙂 Second- I live over in Dillon and I’m debating if I should change the oven temp or bake time for this cake because it’s on the thicker side (I was going to bake it in a 9″ springform pan as you suggested). Any thoughts on that? I typically adjust your recipes for altitude (half the chemical leavener and an extra egg yolk) and that seems to work but I appreciate any insight you have regarding this recipe! Thanks so much.

    Chef Megan Joy - February 13, 2014

    Hi Kelsey, you should be fine baking this cake at 350 F. When the cake is done it will spring back when lightly touched and the top will look dry. Start checking it after 20 minutes, then check every 5 minutes as it gets close to being finished.

Sheila - March 14, 2014

Could this be made in a bundt pan – I’m in Larkspur, CO – 6,800′. THANKS!

    Chef Megan Joy - March 14, 2014

    I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s always worth a try! This recipe works great in any other shorter pan sizes- 9 x 13, round cake pans, or even springform pans.

Elizabeth - March 17, 2014

I finally got up the courage to bake a cake at high altitude, and with St. Patty’s Day around the corner, this was my choice. I can’t tell you the relief I felt when I opened up the oven door and there was a perfectly domed cake waiting for me! I served it plain with vanilla ice cream (which I will admit was a choice made out of an occasional laziness re: frosting-related matters) and it was perfect. Thanks!

Kelsey - May 31, 2014

Hi Megan-
I’ve had a bit of trouble with this recipe (I’ve made it several times now). Because I’m at about 9,100 feet I only put in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and an extra egg yolk and otherwise keep the recipe as is. Thankfully the problem is not with having the center of the cake fall. My biggest issue is that the center stays gooey and under cooked for so long that I’m forced to bake the cake for almost an hour at 350. This usually causes the outside to be somewhat overcooked in order to get the center cooked. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    Chef Megan Joy - May 31, 2014

    Hi Kelsey, have you tried lowering the oven temperature? For your altitude you may just need to bake low and slow, or try using a more shallow cake pan.

    jan - March 1, 2016

    Hi, I have had similar problems at just over 7,300 ft. Also, I am finding that it depends on the day. Seems at altitude, every day is a new one… anyway, I baked this cake at 350, for about 35 min but I used bundts. It worked perfectly-for me… What I have also learned with much research and frustration is that there are things out there called cake wraps or something. I use wet towels around the outside of the pan. It keeps the outside from overcooking while you wait for the center to cook. That was a HUGE help! Also, I haven’t tried it yet but I read where people use a core to help with the center not cooking. I have a tin can ready and waiting. As I understand it, you place it in the center of the cake pan, the can is open at both ends, and then bake the cake as usual. The can supposedly adds the needed heat to bake the center – kind of like people who use nails in baking potatoes to help speed the process. Anyway, those are the things I have learned and hope something of this is helpful to you.

Lynn - March 14, 2016

Do you have a great mocha frosting recipe for this cake?

Ramee Hyde - March 18, 2016

Made these cupcakes again for St Patty’s Day! They are so moist and have a great chocolate flavor unlike some high altitude chocolate cake recipes I’ve tried that are just off colored or flavorless. Used a mascarpone cream cheese frosting with Bailey’s. Do you have a good mascarpone frosting recipe? The one I used was ok but not amazing. I’m in Dillon by the way…so those of you at my elevation: I used the recipe with no changes including the temp. Regular size cupcakes baked for 13 minutes and minicupcakes 10-11 minutes. Hope that helps. Thanks again Chef Megan!

    Chef Megan Joy - March 23, 2016

    Great to hear Ramee! Rebecca Rather has a good mascarpone frosting recipe:

    2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
    8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    Pinch of salt
    8 oz mascarpone cheese

    Beat the first five ingredients together until light and fluffy. On low speed fold in the mascarpone. Covers 12 extra large cupcakes.

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