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Chocolate Stout Cake - Holiday Baking Ed

Biscotti_Guy's picture

Has anyone made the "Chocolate Stout Cake" on page 46 of the Fine Cooking Holiday Baking Issue?

I followed the directions exactly. The cake came out and looked like a picture, but tasted like the frame. It was the most vile chocolate cake I have ever tasted. Was wondering if there is a problem with the recipie? It is unusual to get a bad recipie in Fine Cooking.

My cakes are gobbled up as soon as they cool, but this one went right into the bin...

Sam

assibams's picture

(post #38617, reply #1 of 31)

There is a thread over at the Feedback folder (No. 16872). DJ has made the cake and obviously she liked it a lot.


Did you use the beer called for in the recipe? I have learned the hard way that you cannot always use what you have at home, especially when it comes to beer ;-)


Edited to add folder number.


Edited 10/31/2003 3:40:32 AM ET by Assibams

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Herm Albright

Li's picture

(post #38617, reply #2 of 31)

Sam, can you give us any more information? This was one of the staff's favorites. I'm curious about what went wrong.

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Biscotti_Guy's picture

(post #38617, reply #3 of 31)

Li,

I used Stout Ale, but not Guiness. Perhaps this was the problem.

I also used Scharffen-Berger Cocoa and Callebaut Semi-Sweet Chocolate.

The texture of the cake was fine, I just thought it was bitter and had an aftertaste. I don't really like beer, so the cake just may not have been for me. May try it again with grocery store cocoa and chocolate and the Guiness Ale and see if it is better. I am interested in knowing what kind of chocolate others have used with this cake.

Thanks.

Sam

Doris1149's picture

(post #38617, reply #4 of 31)

Yes, this cakes does have a hint of bitterness to it-anything made with molasses usually does. Some brands of molasses are more bitter than others. I used Brer Rabbit dark. (I have a friend who uses blackstrap in all of her baking- it all tastes nasty to me) I used Penzey's cocoa and (whispering quietly) grocery-store Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate.


 


DJ-

DJ-

assibams's picture

(post #38617, reply #5 of 31)

I haven't tried this cake yet, since I cannot get Guiness right now. Your problem might very well be a combination of the chocolate and the wrong (too bitter?) type of beer.

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Herm Albright

iguana667's picture

(post #38617, reply #6 of 31)

>I just thought it was bitter and had an aftertaste. I don't really like beer, so the cake just may not have been for me.

I made this cake yesterday and it was wonderful! I used Sierra Nevada stout. My guests declared the cake magnificent-- it was moist and super-chocolatey, and not too sweet. We served it for dessert with more stout to drink. I often serve stout with chocolate cake, so this was the perfect cake for it!

The bitterness and aftertaste you found may be due to the hops in the beer. I think porter has less hops, but if you're not a beer fan, maybe a different cake would be better.

Biscotti_Guy's picture

(post #38617, reply #9 of 31)

Thanks!

I had thought a lighter beer may do better. I may try the cake again with lower octane beer and chocolate on your recommendation.

The Scharffen-Berger cocoa may have ruined the cake. Will try it again with a lower octane brand like Nestle or Ghiradelli.

Sam

plantlust's picture

(post #38617, reply #10 of 31)

Made this cake today also (on a roll...Almond/Cranberry, Mean's SourCream/Cardamom/Apple and this one).  I detected a bitter aftertaste in the batter (haven't tried the finished cake as it hasn't finished baking yet) and I think it's a combo of the beer and molasses.  I've never liked beer and it's that same bitter aftertaste that turns me off.


I wasn't able to find Guiness but tried a Stout that Trader Joe's had (Oatmeal Stout?...it was British).  The molasses I used was Grandma's (yellow bottle) unsulphured, not Blackstrap. 


Edited to add I've tried the finished cake.  The bitterness seems to be gone or is at an undetectable level to my töngue.  I used Penzey's natural cocoa and Whole Paycheck's semi-sweet chocolate chips (whole, chopping these babies was impossible).



There is no relationship that CANNOT be improved with a suitable application of money or high explosives.


Edited 11/7/2003 7:58:47 AM ET by PLANTLUST

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with parsley sauce, goat cheese garlic mashed potatoes, Galena Cellars Niagra grape wine & Pie Boss's apple crumble topped with Ruth & Phil's sour cream/cinnamon ice cream.

Theodora's picture

(post #38617, reply #11 of 31)

It's baking right now, Plantlust! OH, I love the aroma! I used the guiness, Grandma's "robust" molasses, Hershey's cocoa, and ghirardelli's semi-sweet. (Those are the options in my local store.)


I adored the batter. Why when I tasted it did I think "this tastes Asian?" And I dislike beer intensely. I even disliked the bit of Guiness left in the bottle. Any one what these other five bottles? I can't wait to try it after it cools. I made the 12 minis, and eleven will go to the freezer.


And I'm making the cardamom apple bread tomorrow, after I truck myself over to Penzeys' in Columbus of a spice run. Gosh, these three recipes really seem to have sparked something in all of us, haven't they? I still have the a few slices of almond cranberry cake in the freezer. What a treat.


I've lost 21 pounds since late August. I am treading a really fine line here with this baking!


"Our whole American way of life is a great war of ideas, and librarians are the arms dealers selling weapons to both sides."
-James Quinn

Theodora's picture

(post #38617, reply #12 of 31)

It's pretty good! I do like the stout flavor with the chocolate very much. I'm reserving final judgement till it ages just a bit, and the flavors develop more. I think I would prefer it as one big cake instead of a mini. I would prefer more insides to crust in the case of this cake. The chewy crust overwhelmed the insides a bit. I don't care for the effect the cocoa has on the crust, and I think letting the flavors develop a bit will ameliorate this. Or perhaps next time, I'll let the non-stick pan do its thing without the spray and cocoa.

"Our whole American way of life is a great war of ideas, and librarians are the arms dealers selling weapons to both sides."
-James Quinn

KitchenWitch's picture

(post #38617, reply #13 of 31)

>>>And I dislike beer intensely. I even disliked the bit of Guiness left in the bottle. Any one what these other five bottles? <<<


I'll take those five bottles!!


well, in two weeks, anyway...I'm dying for a Guiness.


~RuthAnn

~RuthAnn

Syb's picture

(post #38617, reply #14 of 31)

Yesterday I noticed a Chocolate Stout Cake on Epicurious.  It's a recipe from a brewery in Maine.  I'm wondering if anyone has seen or tried it.  It has a whole pound of butter for twelve servings (gag), but no molasses.  Lots of rave reviews and no mention of bitterness.


Edited 11/9/2003 4:45:36 PM ET by Syb

jocelyng's picture

(post #38617, reply #31 of 31)

I made this today.  It is great but it is taking a lot longer than 35 minutes to cook.  I took the first batch of layers out too soon, so they all sank.  Despite the high cost, I made it again.  They should be out in a few minutes.  My kids are enjoying the pieces I can't use.  It is very moist and chocolatey.


Jocelyn

ashleyd's picture

(post #38617, reply #16 of 31)

Did you know that Guiness is one of the few things that you can drink with chocolate that doesn't ruin the taste of either? A small glass with your chocolate cake ma'am?

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing; it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well."
Voltaire

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Biscotti_Guy's picture

(post #38617, reply #15 of 31)

I made the cake again using the 89 cent a bottle Stockyard Oatmeal Stout from Trader Joes. The cake came out great. I read up on stout and Oatmeal stout has very little if any hops in it. It is the hops that ruin the cake. I also used regular Grandma's molasses.

One thing I noticed is that the cocoa weight is given as over 2 ounces or 3/4c. I measured out 3/4 c of cocoa and then weighed it. The weight was just over 1 ounce. I don't see how the author comes up with the 2 oz weight, even packing the cocoa into the measuring cup.

Also, I used my "Salad Shooter" to grate the chocolate. That worked out well.

Thanks all for your help.

Doris1149's picture

(post #38617, reply #17 of 31)

Glad to hear you had better results the second time around with this cake. A hoppy brew would certainly contribute to the bitter edge.  Interesting about the cocoa weight-will check the next time I bake.

DJ-

DJ-

cocaandme's picture

(post #38617, reply #18 of 31)

I used Stout but not Guiness as well. Also used Scharffen-Berger Cocoa and Callebaut Semi-Sweet Chocolate.  It taked a wee bit dry and too dense after 20 mins from the oven.  When I decided to serve it to guests 6 hours later (left it on a plate on the counter), they were very dry and tough.  Did I just take it out of the oven too late?  Or maybe I added too much flour.  I scooped the flour out of the bag with the measuring cup.  Should I have sifted the flour then spooned the flour into the measuring cup?? 


My other bakings from fine cooking have always worked well except for these mini bundt cakes (almond came out a little dry as well).  I'll be trying the ginger espresso cake for my in-laws in a couple of days; will watch them and take them out at 17 mins. 

TracyK's picture

(post #38617, reply #19 of 31)

Sounds overbaked to me... not that I know much about it, LOL.


"Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet."


Julia Child

Syb's picture

(post #38617, reply #20 of 31)

I seem to remember reading (in FC?) that sifting is not necessary.  However, you shouldn't scoop out of the bin, as it compresses the flour, and you do get too much.  Old habits are difficult to break.  I always scoop out of the bin too, but I usually fill the cup a little less than full.  Some folks here would cringe at my technique.  There is a contingent here that swears by weighing flour rather than measuring.  That gives you the right amount every time.

assibams's picture

(post #38617, reply #21 of 31)

Thanks to Heleen's generous care package I was finally able to make this cake. The recipe was easy, the batter was not bitter at all (although I do not advise tasting the molasses-beer mix). The ones that came out clean - I never wait long enough to invert the pans, and those were brand-new ones, too - I drizzled with the chocolate glaze. The first day, right after cooling, I and all the others that tried it thought the cake was great. The second day it was dry and left a mealy, gummy feeling on the palate. I was ready to throw out the 5 mini cakes I had left. On the third day (I had stored them in a giant, airtight cookie jar) they were okay, no mealy texture. Only DS1, Ian, the pickiest eater of all times, hated the cake. To him it was bitter and tasted like beer. Everybody else loved it.

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Herm Albright

plantlust's picture

(post #38617, reply #22 of 31)

AHA.  That explains it then. 


Granted 3 reports does not scientific proof make BUT it would seem that if the eater dislikes beer the eater will dislike this cake. 


I'm not wild about molasses either but will at least give the recipe the benefit of the doubt.  Chemistry is a wonderful thing <g>.


Alms for acreage, alms for acreage.   (attempt at shameless panhandling).

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with parsley sauce, goat cheese garlic mashed potatoes, Galena Cellars Niagra grape wine & Pie Boss's apple crumble topped with Ruth & Phil's sour cream/cinnamon ice cream.

Biscotti_Guy's picture

(post #38617, reply #23 of 31)

It has been my experience that Scharffen-Berger Cocoa makes things dry. I do not use it anymore. It seems to be way too concentrated or something. I am sure that there are other cooks out there that will disagree with me, but everything I made with S-B cocoa has been dry as sawdust, the same recipie with Van-Leer cocoa comes out great. I also think Callebut chocolate is not as flavorful as others, Lindt Excellence for example.

I got the cakes to be moist and edible. The recipie was interesting, but I have other chocolate cakes I like better and won't be making it again.

But consider the source, others think I am a dope for my taste in cookbooks.....

Regards,

BG

Jangomango's picture

(post #38617, reply #24 of 31)

It's more to do with the cocoa mass content than the brand name chocolate.  


The higher the percentage the more likely it is that baked stuff will come out dry.


 

nexus's picture

(post #38617, reply #25 of 31)

Keeping in mind everything everybody here said about I made this cake yesterday for New Years Eve with friends. I scooped both the flour and cocoa and then gently shook into measures. I almost never follow recipes exactly but I did this time. The cake was dense, moist and flavorful. I increased the amount of Ganache which never hurts our feelings. When I asked my friends how it compared with my german chocolate cake recipe She said she likes the german chocolate cake better. He said that it has been a while and he would have to try it again to make a good comparison. They both had big seconds. My son says he prefers my german chocolate cake. So do I.

Jean's picture

(post #38617, reply #26 of 31)

Ok, let's have the German Choc recipe, please.

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nexus's picture

(post #38617, reply #28 of 31)

This is one those oldies but goodies. I got this from my friend Jerry back in the late 70s and have made this for some of my seriously chocoholic friends and seriously foodie friends and it is always a hit. I like to pour a ganache over it instead of a regular frosting. I hope you like it; please let me know.


German Chocolate Cake


2 1/4 cup flour


1 tsp baking soda


1/2 cup cocoa powder


1 1/2 cup sugar


1 tsp vanilla


2/3 cup shopped, drained sauerkraut


1 tsp. baking powder


1/4 tsp salt


2/3 cup butter


3 eggs


1 cup cold water


Butter and flour 2-8" square pans or a 9x13 pan (I have also made this in a bundt pan).


 Sift together flour, soda, baking powder, salt & cocoa.


 In a large bowl cream butter & sugar.


Beat in eggs & vanilla.


Alternate adding flour mixture & water.


Stir in sauerkraut.


 Pour into pans.


Bake at 350 for 300 min or until done.


Edited 1/2/2004 11:22:12 AM ET by diamondc

Jean's picture

(post #38617, reply #29 of 31)

Thanks for posting. I remember that secret ingredient (sauerkraut) now. I've never tried it though. I would think that  using cold coffee instead of water would be good too.


I'll have to try it soon.


Housework can't kill you, but why take the chance? - Phyllis Diller

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
nexus's picture

(post #38617, reply #30 of 31)

I like your idea.

iguana667's picture

(post #38617, reply #7 of 31)

Hi Li!

As I posted to BiscottiGuy, I made this cake and it was a big hit. M., who usually doesn't like cakes, refused to let me take the leftovers to work.

One thing in the recipe that could use clarifiction is "very finely chopped chocolate". How fine is that? Mine ranged from ultrafine flakes to almost pea-sized. The larger chunks were too big for the looseness of the batter-- they sank to the bottom of the bundt pan during baking and made the top eight of the cake fail to unmold. I scraped that part out for sampling-- it was delish with the melted chocolate hunks. My guess is any chocolate hunks bigger than a lentil are too big. Would it work to chop it in the food processor, or would it melt? Please let me know, as I will be making this cake again!

Li's picture

(post #38617, reply #8 of 31)

Here's a tip from an article that will appear in the next Fine Cooking:

To grate chocolate without melting it (from the heat produced from processing), freeze the chocolate and use a grating disk rather than the steel “S” blade (which would create pebble-like pieces of chocolate).


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