Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Boozy Cakes and Cheeky Tarts

I've been doing a bit of experimental baking in recent times. After a few particularly stressful assignments at uni (one involving a group seminar), I was in dire need of a pick-me-up, therapeutic baking session. I'd found a recipe for a Chocolate Porter Cake in the Pursuit of Hoppiness magazine that we have at work so I decided to try it out. I bought the KJD Cherry Chocolate Porter ale from our local craft beer supplier, then settled in to make a delicious cake. This is probably the best cake I have ever made. It is rich without being heavy, the beer lightens it up slightly. It's a little crunchy on the outside and deliciously soft and moist on the inside. So here goes:

Haley's Porter Chocolate Cake

230g butter
1 cup of dark beer (porter or stout)
2/3 cup of good quality cocoa powder
20g of 70% (or darker) chocolate
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1-1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of sour cream or unsweetened yoghurt
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 175ºC

Line the base of a medium-large round cake tin with baking paper then grease sides with butter and dust with flour.

Melt butter, beer and chocolate in a pot on the stove, bring it to a light simmer and then stir in the cocoa powder until dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool.

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl.

Beat the eggs and sour cream/yoghurt in a medium sized bowl until creamy and pale.

Add beer mixture to the dry ingredients and mix to combine, then add the egg mixture and beat to combine. Taste it - go on have a spoonful.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for approx 45 mins or until a knife inserted into centre comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the tin. You can either ice it, slap some cream in the middle or serve it plain. Goes great warmed with some vanilla bean ice cream - but whatever you do definitely have a glass of the beer to go with it.

I made this cake twice and gave heaps of it away. Tastes awesome when it's cold too, like chocolate brownie. I made the second cake the day after I made the first. I used a 10% stout from 8 Wired Brewing Co. It was amazing.

Now I guess you'll be wondering what these "Cheeky Tarts" are. At work, we decided to have a bake-off - kitchen vs bar vs floor (me). The challenge - make something awesome that involves Black Doris Plums. I had no idea what to make and finally after trawling through the internet for ideas, settled on a plum tart. But you know me, it can't be any ordinary plum tart, it had to be special. Like dark chocolate and frangipane special...

Lined a tart tin with sweet pastry, then covered the base with frangipane (for those of you who don't know, it's an almond flavoured mixture of deliciousness - think frangelico). Then coarsely chopped up some Whittaker's 72% dark ghana (I've been obsessed with this stuff for a while now) and sprinkled it over the frangipane. Covered the top with doris plum halves, and baked it in the oven for about 45 mins at 185ºC. The frangipane puffs up in between the plums, enveloping them beautifully. Here, I'll show you -

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