Brilliant Bristol baker Briony May Williams shares what she’s been making this month

Earlier this year I did a baking demonstration at a cheese and ale festival and needed to come up with a cake to fit in with the theme, so I had to go with the classic stout cake. Now when you think of stout cake, you probably think of a big, dark sponge with a dollop of cream cheese frosting on top – don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that! I just thought that it could do with a 2019 makeover.

My version is made with a Bristol chocolate stout, a coffee buttercream and a chocolate ganache drip. I carried on making this cake at food festivals across the country throughout the summer and it has gone down an absolute storm with the crowds so I wanted to share it with you all to enjoy.

Chocolate and Coffee Stout Cake
Cake ingredients:
325ml chocolate stout (or dark porter)
325g unsalted butter
130g cocoa powder, sifted
530g golden caster sugar
200ml crème fraîche
3 large eggs
2 tbsp dark rum (it brings out the chocolate flavour)
370g plain flour
3 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the buttercream:
350g unsalted butter, softened
700g icing sugar, sifted
4 tsp instant coffee
3 tsp boiling water

For the ganache:
100ml double cream
100g dark chocolate, chopped

To finish:
50g chocolate covered coffee beans (optional)
200g walnut halves

Method:
• Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Grease and line three eight-inch cake tins.

• Make the sponges. Place the stout (I use Bristol Beer Factory’s El Choco) and the butter into a large pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Add in the cocoa powder. Mix to combine. Add the sugar and mix to combine then remove from the heat. Beat the eggs and the crème fraîche. Add to the pan and mix to combine. Add the flour and the bicarbonate of soda and mix. Divide between tins. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Leave to cool in tins.

• Now make the buttercream. Beat the butter until it’s pale and smooth. Add half of the icing sugar. Beat to combine. Repeat with the second half of the icing sugar. Mix coffee and boiling water. Add to the buttercream. Mix well to combine.

• Next, make the ganache. Break up the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream in a pan until steaming and bubbling around the edges. Pour over the chocolate and leave for a few minutes. Stir until smooth and glossy.

• Assemble the cake. Set aside eight walnut halves for decoration. Chop the remainder into small pieces. Place one sponge on a board or plate, spread over a thick layer of buttercream and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Repeat with the next sponge. Top with the final sponge. Spread the buttercream evenly over the top and sides of cake and smooth with a cake scraper and palette knife.

• Drip the ganache over the edges on three to four sections of the cake. Transfer the rest of the buttercream to a piping bag with a star nozzle.

• Pipe stars of different sizes on top of the cake. Sprinkle with chocolate covered coffee beans and top with walnut halves.

Follow Briony on Twitter; illustration by Cat Faulkner