High Country Baking: Guinness chocolate cake

The taste of beer in this Guinness stout cake isn’t overwhelming. In fact, it’s so subtle that only dedicated fans of stout will identify it.
Vera Dawson/Courtesy photo

We sip Champagne on New Year’s Eve, Christmas calls for eggnog, and the glass we’ll raise on St. Patrick’s Day will be filled with Irish beer, making Guinness stout cake a perfect March 17 dessert.

I published a recipe for one several years ago that still gets rave reviews, so this one, which is delicious and easier to make, should be a winner. The taste of beer isn’t overwhelming. In fact it’s so subtle that only dedicated fans of stout will identify it. Most will simply experience a deeply-flavored chocolate cake with a pleasing crumb and moist texture. The cake in the photo is topped with a vanilla-stout glaze and a drizzle of dark chocolate, but use any frosting you like.

Guinness chocolate cake

Make in an 8 1/2 inch shiny metal springform pan with 2-inch sides. Adjusted for elevations of 7,000 feet and above.


  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup Guinness stout, no foam
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, preferably superfine
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour, spoon and level
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Glaze, optional

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon stout
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 1/2 to 1 cup powdered sugar

Drizzle, optional

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Unlock your springform pan, flip the bottom over so the lip faces down, and relock it in place. This will make it easier to remove and cut the baked cake. Grease the pan with a baking spray that contains flour. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and grease the paper.

Cut the butter into small pieces and add them, with the stout, to a microwave-safe mixing bowl and heat at a low temperature in a microwave oven until the butter melts. Remove the bowl from the oven, add the cocoa and sugar, and whisk to blend. Whisk the sour cream, eggs and vanilla in a small bowl until combined. Then whisk into the butter/stout. Slowly add the flour and baking soda, stirring/whisking until a batter forms. Don’t over-mix. Stop when the dry ingredients disappear and the mixture is smooth.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth and level it and rap the pan on a counter a few times to dislodge any air bubbles. Bake until the cake rises, the top is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. The top may develop a few cracks while baking, but they won’t show once the cake is inverted and glazed/frosted.

Remove the cake from the oven, place it on a rack and cool it completely. Run a knife or offset spatula between the pan and the cake, pressing toward the pan, and then carefully remove the pan sides. If the cake has domed, use a serrated knife to shave the top. Invert the cake onto a plate or cardboard cake round. Remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper liner. Cover the cake while you make the glaze and drizzle.

Make and glaze by combining the melted butter, stout and vanilla in a bowl and whisking until smooth. Slowly add the sugar, a tablespoon or two at a time, whisking after each addition until the mixture thickens but still slides easily off a spoon (it will thicken much more when the butter hardens). Place the cake on a sheet of wax paper and pour/spread the glaze over the cake top, letting it drip down the sides. Let the glaze set (refrigerate the cake to speed this up). Make the drizzle by heating the chopped chocolate and canola oil in a microwave oven for 30 second intervals at a low temperature until almost fully melted. Remove from the oven and stir until fully melted, smooth and shiny. If necessary, let cool until slightly thickened and then drizzle over the glaze.

Editor’s note: This recipe is a variation of one published on the New York Times Cooking website.

Vera Dawson

Vera Dawson’s column “High Country Baking” publishes biweekly in the Summit Daily News. Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks. Her recipes have been tested in her kitchen in Frisco, where she’s lived since 1991, and altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.