Chocolate Stout Layer Cake

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Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Be still my little mouse heart: This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

I know. That’s a bold statement. Especially from someone who bakes a fair amount of cakes. But, I mean, look at this thing:

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

And, it gets better. This cake also includes one of my other favorite things on this planet: Guinness stout.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

If you know me, you’re probably saying something like: Oh, god, chocolate AND Guinness? She must be out of her mind!

You’d be about right.

So tell us about the cake, Mouse

I thought you’d never ask!

First, you make two round, moist and tender chocolate cakes infused with a hefty amount of butter and a good drink of stout, which deepens the chocolate flavor. Split and sandwich them between layers of billowy chocolate whipped cream—then drape the whole business in a whisper-thin layer of fudge glaze.

If there were more of the glaze, it would be too much. But there’s not. There’s just enough.

Like I said: Perfection.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Thank you, Hubert Keller

I can’t take credit for this recipe. It’s from Chef Hubert Keller, cookbook author and owner of Fleur de Lys in San Fran. It found its way into my kitchen via my dear friend Mrs. Toast, who has a good eye for spotting spectacular cakes.

So this cake is on the fancier end of cakemaking for me, which means that it has a fair amount of steps and take a while to make.

You can’t just whip all the ingredients together in a bowl, like with my Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake. (Don’t get me wrong, I love that cake, too. It’s my Oh-Noes-I-Have-Unexpected-Company-And-Need-To-Feed-Them-Something-Like-Pronto cake.)

Let’s face it: There’s just something about a layer cake that’s totally happymaking.

This cake is worth the time and effort. If you’re skeptical, I offer this proof: Ever since I made this cake, The Angry Chef—who is incredibly fussy and discerning about desserts—has been asking me to make another.

And another.

Oh, and not only is Keller an acclaimed chef, but he also knows how to write a good recipe (the two don’t always go hand-in-hand). His instructions were clear, concise, and accurate. I followed them to a T, and the cake came out marvelously.

Here’s the original recipe. And here’s how to make it.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake

Recipe by Hubert Keller

Cake
1 cup stout (I used Guinness)
1 cup butter + more for greasing the pans
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 Tbls. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream

Glaze
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. water
1 Tbls. light corn syrup

Filling
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1  1/2 cups heavy cream
1  1/2 tsp. vanilla

Makes 1 (9-inch) cake with 4 layers

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Make the chocolate Guinness cake batter

Crack open the stout. Measure it out and put it into a heavy-bottomed pot with the butter. (Crack open another for yourself while you’re at it. Cake-making is thirsty business.)

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Set the pot on the stove over medium heat and cook until the butter melts, stirring occasionally.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

When the butter has melted, toss in the cocoa powder and whisk it until it’s uniform. (Hello, steamy camera!) When the mixture is uniform, take it off the heat and cool to room temperature.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

It will look like a glorious pot of buttery, molten chocolate. Mine broke a tiny bit as it cooled. (I either had the heat too high, or I didn’t whisk it enough.) But it didn’t matter one bit that I could tell.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

While you’re waiting for the mixture to cool, grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment. Set them aside.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Put the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk to combine until uniform. Set it aside for a minute while you deal with the eggs.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Put the eggs and sour cream in the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl if you’re mixing by hand). Beat them together until well combined.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

By the time my chocolate/stout mixture was room temperature, it had completely separated. I whisked it back together until it was uniform, and kept going. I don’t think it mattered much in the end.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

With your mixer running on low, drizzle the chocolate-stout mixture into the egg mixture until well combined.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

It should look about like this (see, it was just fine that that mixture separated):

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Add the dry ingredients until the batter *just* comes together.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Remove the bowl from the stand and fold it once or twice with a rubber spatula to ensure you got all the dry ingredients at the very bottom of the bowl.

Don’t stir too much (only enough to ensure the batter’s smooth). The more you stir, the more you’ll encourage the gluten in the flour to develop, which can make the cake tough.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Divide the batter equally between your two prepared cake pans.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Smooth the surfaces down so they’re fairly even.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Pop the pans into your pre-heated 350-degree oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the tops spring back when pressed gently with a finger (and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center).

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

When they’re done, yank them out of the oven and let them cool on a rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, run a knife around the inside edge of each pan and turn the cakes out carefully.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Let them cool on a rack until room temperature.

A quick note on Cake-Removal Ballet
If you crack your cake when you take it out of the pan, don’t fret. I’ve done it a bunch of times. (I’ll admit that I cried the first time it happened. And maybe the second, too.)

Remember, you’re going to fill and frost it. So, unless it’s smashed to bitty pieces, you can usually patch the cake back together reasonably well. No one will be the wiser unless they bust out a protractor and measure your layers. (And please, who would do that when there’s cake to be eaten?)

It may be a tad wonky, but it’ll still be delicious.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Slice the cake into layers

No matter how hard I try, my layers always come out a little uneven. You can use a serrated bread knife to do this. Or you can use one of these contraptions. It’s a cake slicer meant specifically for cutting layers, and if you bake a lot, it’s one of the best twelve bucks you’ll ever spend. (Get yours here.)

Cake Cutter

Position the cake cutter over the cake. Ensure that the slicing wire is set to the middle of the cake (so you have even layers).

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Slice away with a gentle sawing motion.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

And, voila! Two even cake layers. Handle them gently. They’ll be flimsier now that they’re thinner.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Repeat with the other cake. You should have four cake rounds. Set them aside while you make the glaze and filling.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Make the chocolate glaze

Put the butter, chocolate chips, and water in a medium-sized pan on the stove over low heat.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Stir constantly until they melt and are well combined.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Drizzle in the corn syrup. Stir to combine. Take it off the heat and set it aside to cool to room temperature.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Make the whipped cream filling

While the glaze is cooling, make the chocolate whipped cream filling.

Put the powdered sugar and cocoa powder in the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if you’re mixing by hand) with the beater attachment on. Beat to combine.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

With the mixer running on low, drizzle in the heavy cream. When you’ve added all the heavy cream, turn the speed up to high and beat until the cream is thick, light, and fluffy.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

You want it to look about like this. Add the vanilla and beat briefly to combine. Resist the urge to jump in the bowl and swim around.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Assemble the layer cake

It’s finally time to put the cake together. Put one of the layers onto a large plate. (Use the plate or platter you intend on serving the cake on. You won’t want to move it once it’s assembled and glazed.)

Put about a third of the chocolate whipped cream on the cake.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Spread it around (right to the edges) evenly.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Set a second layer of cake on top of the whipped cream. Add a third of the chocolate whipped cream on top. Spread it around evenly.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Repeat with the last layer. You should be looking at a glorious stack of cake and whipped cream.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

At this point, your glaze will likely be at room temperature. Pour it over the cake, in the center, so it spreads fairly evenly.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

With a spatula, spread the glaze around a little on the top of the cake, pushing it to the edges and then over.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse Slice and serve immediately, or pop it in the fridge to let the glaze set up.

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake at The Hungry Mouse

Layer Cake Love!

Annelle from Annelle’s Table recently made this cake and loved it. Check out how even her layers are!

Chocolate Stout Cake at Annelle's Table

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

42 COMMENTS

  1. hrm now that I think about it…could you replace the beer with another alcohol or a coffee liquer? I’m a bit of a light weight heh

    • Ya know, I’d stick with the Guinness. A lot (but not all) of the booze will cook off in the oven. And it’ll be much lower proof than any other alcohol.

      I haven’t tried this yet, but if you wanted to, you could probably substitute brewed coffee for the Guinness.

      xo
      +Jessie

  2. Hi Mouse! Your blog rocks.

    I made this cake this weekend, being so inspired by your post. It was incredibly yummy, but had a bit of a structural problem: the layers were slightly domed. After assembly, I walked into another room for a few minutes. When I came back, a third of my cake had literally slid off the cake platter onto the counter. It was disappointing, but still tasty.

    Upon reflection, I think my next purchase will be that nifty layer cutter you mentioned. I’ll also trim the tops of the layers if they curve too much.

    Would you have other recommendations?

    • Oh gosh! Yeah, if you sliced the tops flat, that would definitely fix that. Yipes! I’m actually going to amend the post above to include that tip. So glad you still liked the cake, though.

      Definitely grab one of those cake slicers. (Keep it in its box! It’s an annoying thing to store!) Makes life so much easier.

      The only other thing I can think of is to make sure that your cakes really are cool before you fill and glaze them. If they’re warm, it will break the whipped cream down and encourage them to slip around.

      Cheers!
      +Jessie

      • I made this today. I have a string cutter but it did not work. My cakes did not dome but infact sunk a little bit in the middle. I used all fresh products. When I cut the first cake it completely crumbled to pieces. The second one did just fine. Maybe the first one was not cool enough. I put it together anyway. Made a second batch of the filling as I had to use a lot to cover up the back section. I made the glaze and it looked just fine but seemed to not be thick enough. I will see how it is after I take it out of the refrig. Had a lot of chocolate puddle around the base of the cake. Looks kind of funny but we will see how it is tonight. Will let you know. Thank you for your wonderful instructions.

    • I grew up in the days when cakes were supposed to be domed. My mom and my grandmother both used cake plates whose center was a bit indented, like a dinner plate. They put the dome of one layer down in that indentation, and the dome of the other one on top. This way the middle surfaces of the layers that meet are both flat, and level, so no slippage. Cakes don’t look right to me without that dome. /;)

      Creeping away on my walker now…

  3. Hmmm…Lisa has made a chocolate stout cake a few times that is sooooo good. I wonder if it’s the same recipe or not. Regardless, chocolate and stout work so well with each other. If you’ve ever had Brooklyn’s Chocolate Stout, you’ll know what I mean.

  4. OK, Ms. Mouse–this is a true KEEPER! And just in time for a little celebrating at our house.
    I didn’t have the separation you talked about with the stout and butter/chocolate mixture, and I think you’re right, probably temperature related. Thank you for a wonderful pictorial–it was like we were making it together–for a long time–but totally worth it!
    The taste is wonderful–I could actually taste a little Guiness flavor in the cake! LOVE the filling–altogether makes a beautiful, celebratory presentation. If I knew how to put pictures on here, I would. I was pleased that it looked so much like yours!! I did do a little blog about it–
    THANK YOU!!

  5. I made the cake this weekend just gone. It was more a mountain of deliciousness than an actual cake, as I had only 1 9″ pan and 1 8″ pan. I mixed everything by hand as we don’t own a mixture, but now I’ve made it once I’d find it easy to do again. Not that I’d want to do this often.

    I had a weird issue with my bigger cake, in that I used a toothpick to test. Put it back in the oven and the middle sunk a bit, which was disappointing. I just made extra filling though.

    I’d also whip the filling less than I did, as the filling wasn’t very spreadable so it came out more like a gataeux than a cake because the layers of cream were so thick.

    I’m in the UK and ‘corn syrup’ isn’t available here. I used a very runny maple syrup that we had in the cupboard and the glaze still came out beautifully.

    I am planning to make a cupcake version in the future – any tips for difference to the cake batter?

    • Hey Pewter,

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m so glad you liked the cake! (And I’m with you: This definitely isn’t a cake I’d want to make every day. Too many steps.)

      Thanks also for the ingredient substitutions. I’m always interested in what’s available here vs. overseas. I think for the corn syrup, you could also substitute golden syrup safely.

      For a cupcake version, I’d just cut down the baking time a little and keep a good eye on ’em when you think they’re close to done. (Toothpick test again. Or I like to press the tops lightly with a finger. If the cake springs back, it’s done.)

      Let me know how they turn out!

  6. I made this cake for Thanksgiving. It IS by far the most delicious cake I’ve ever made or tasted. It is perfection. All I can say is, THANKS Hubert Keller! You are a genius! The cake was a little difficult to make and a little time consuming, but well worth the wait. I prefer dark chocolate to it’s sugary counter part milk chocolate. So I used Dark Chocolate Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Chips. This cake is moist and delectable and best served cold. If you haven’t made this cake for your family, what are you waiting for? It’s a must try and a must keep recipe!

  7. Hi Jessie!

    I’d like to ask for your opinion if you have any idea what I could substitute the stout with?

    And also what kind of flour did you actually used? Was it self-raising flour or all purpose flour?

    Thanks! ;D

    • Hey Amyleen,

      Thanks for the note. As for the flour, it was all-purpose white flour (not self-rising).

      As for substitutes for stout, you could try any other dark ale that you like. If you’re trying to avoid alcohol completely, you might try cold, brewed coffee. (Word of warning: This is my best guess, I haven’t tried it.)

      The taste would definitely not be the same, but I’m thinking that might be closest in terms of providing the same bitter flavors to the cake. If you used coffee, you’d definitely wind up with more of a mocha flavored cake.

      Good luck! Let me know what you try?

      +Jessie

      • Hello again from Amyleen!!

        I decided to try this cake this coming Saturday (and I really can’t wait to bake it!!). But, I was wondering, you used the ‘cup’ measurement for most of the ingredient right?
        And luckily, I just realized that I didn’t have the measurement cup. So, I was wondering if you could tell me how much (in litre or ml would be nice) is 1 cup? Perhaps 1 cup is equivalent to 300ml?? hehe

        Thank you very much! ;D

        • Oh yes! And also, you suggested that I used brewed coffee, if I want to substitute the stout. The stout is in liquid form, and the brewed coffee is in solid state. So, should I mix the brewed coffee with a cold/warm/hot water?? About how many ml of water should I use?

          Thanks again!! ;D

  8. OH MY GOODNESS!!! I just made this cake for a friend’s birthday, and it was the best chocolate cake I have made in a long time!!

  9. Oh.no.you.didn’t!

    I have to make this now. I found the most awesome and amazing microbrew dark chocolate stout beer recently and it demands the spotlight. My heart thanks you. My thighs… well that’s another story. 🙂

  10. If I’m using unsweetened cocoa to make the glaze (no chips in the house), how much sugar do I need to add?

  11. I just made this cake for a dinner with some friends — Chef Keller is AMAZING. I’ve made a bunch of his recipes and haven’t had a dud from any of them. This thing went together perfectly — The only problem I had was that the cakes didn’t dome or stay flat on top; they dished a little bit. No worries — I simply followed the advice from Keller on his TV show when he made this cake, and used a knife to slice off the high parts and make a nice flat top. (The trimmings were delicious, BTW — a bonus for the cook!)

    The assembly was a snap — the cakes when sliced this thin are kind of fragile, so after slicing I slid a thin, perforated pizza pan between the two halves, jiggling it a bit as I went to help it slide through without damaging the cake. When 80% through, I lifted the cake on the pan and placed it on the stack. Got a perfect stack, no layer damage at all.

    This cake is also good because it isn’t too sweet like some cakes.

  12. First of all, I want to tell you , I was searching on the web for kitchen gadgets when I saw the title for the best five gadgets for Thanksgiving. Then I looked closer and saw your URL. I had to visit. You see my website is centered around a character as well. His name is Topo. Topo in italian means “mouse”. Topo was granted the opportunity to share my life (niche) with the world wide web. So, you can see why I just had to come and visit. And I was not disappointed. I have a lot of territory still to cover on your site, but I especially like this recipe for the stout cake. I have a recipe for one myself, but I haven’t tried it yet. Yours looks like it might be a little easier. I definitely will try it. In the meantime I will be back to explore some more. I was also wondering if you minded if I put a link to this stout cake on my site. I think my readers of my culinary category would love to try the recipe as well. You can let me know by email. I’ll watch for it. Thank you for sharing your talents and gifts. While my site can’t compare to yours, please feel free to come and visit and leave a comment or two.

  13. There’s no need fior a fancy gadget to split your cake layers! Aren’t you loaded down with single-purpose doo-dads already? Take sewing thread, wrap gently around cake layer at halfway point, cross ends of thread and pull gently until thread comes out of cake and layer is cut!

  14. This sounds amazing! I have one suggestion for true dark chocolate lovers: use black cocoa. It’s hard to find outside of Bird-In-Hand Pennsylvania for some reason, but you can buy it online. It’s Oreo cookie dark, and gives the most intense chocolate flavor to everything that I recommend it to anyone who likes his chocolate to be 70% or more cocoa. I’ll follow up to let you know how it tastes in a few weeks when my family get together and I have a good excuse to make this. 🙂

  15. Just made this for a church group and can’t wait to slice into it tomorrow. My only issue was that my filling came out way darker than the picture and it seems like it wants to separate, any ideas as to what I did wrong?

  16. Just made this for a friend’s birthday, and it was a HUGE hit – everyone had 2 slices! One minor hiccup was that I let the first batch of whipped-cream filling get too hard (right on the verge of “buttery”) so I had to make another batch. It was still delicious though, so I’m going to slather the cream between chocolate wafer cookies – I bet that will be good too! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • You’re a woman after my own heart, it’s an unforgivable sin to waste anything – especially chocolate! I bet it was fantastic on those wafer cookies.

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