Let them eat CAKE!

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Sissy (in-law) turned 28 this week so we celebrated with a family dinner. My MIL cooked some incredible South African courses that were to die for. She's an amazing cook. So hard to leave food on your plate at the best of times, this meal presented an extra special challenge (Mr B and I are eating CSIRO style).

My contribution to the celebratory meal = The birthday cake / dessert. Baking is not my strong suit, I can cook a monster mean meal, however I was never very good at science (and they say baking is a science). I am proud to say that I can give myself two thumbs up for the goodies that I whipped up. See below if you're keen to try them out. (I love Nigella's description of her gorgeous cake, I've included it so as to tantalize your taste buds).

Nigella's Chocolate Guinness Cake 

"This cake is magnificent in its damp blackness. I can't say that you can absolutely taste the stout in it, but there is certainly a resonant, ferrous tang which I happen to love. The best way of describing it is to say that it's like gingerbread without the spices. There is enough sugar - a certain understatement here - to counter any potential bitterness of the Guinness, and although I've eaten versions of this made up like a chocolate sandwich cake, stuffed and slathered in a rich chocolate icing, I think that can take away from its dark majesty. Besides, I wanted to make a cream cheese frosting to echo the pale head that sits on top of a glass of stout. It's unconventional to add cream but it makes it frothier and lighter which I regard as aesthetically and gastronomically desirable. But it is perfectly acceptable to leave the cake un-iced: in fact, it tastes gorgeous plain."

For the cake:
1 cup (250ml) Guinness
250g  unsalted butter
75g  unsweetened cocoa
400g  caster sugar
125ml  sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking soda

For the topping:
300g cream cheese, at room temperature
150g icing sugar
125ml  double or whipping cream.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and butter and line a 23cm  springform pan. Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter - in spoons or slices - and heat until the butter is melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

When the cake's cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the frosting. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift over the confectioner's sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsifted confectioner's sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.

Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 

My mumma has an ice cream maker so I decided to try my hand at some homemade delight. The result was incredible. 

Makes about 10 1/2 cup serves

1 3/4 Cups whole milk
1 3/4 Cups heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom. Use a sharp knife to spilt the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use the blunt edge to scrape out the "seeds". Stir the seeds and bean pod into the milk/cream mixture. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes stirring  occasionally. 
Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Use a hand mixer on medium speed to beat until the mixture is thick, smooth and pale yellow in colour (similar to mayonnaise), about 2 minutes. 

Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk/cream mixture and discard. Pour out 1 cup of the hot liquid. With the mixer on low speed, add the cup of hot milk/cream to the egg mixture in a slow steady stream. When thoroughly combined, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly on the custard, and chill completely. 

Pour the chilled custard into the freezer bowl, turn the machine ON and let mix until thickened, about 25 - 30 minutes. 

{gloriously delicious images thanks too Nigella & Fotobank}

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