Monday, May 5, 2008

Eggless Chocolate Cake with Hops

Inspired by a recent NY Times article on the art of baking cakes, I decided to whip up one of my own. It's no secret that I spend most of my free time baking, but rarely do I tackle the ominous cake. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the decadent fluffy stuff-- I just normally prefer to indulge in the treat when I'm at a bakery and someone else has gone through the labor of creaming, sifting, mixing, baking, cooling and frosting the thing.

Cakes are no simple feat. They're temperamental little bastards-- open the oven too soon or tread the kitchen floor too forcefully and there it goes, falling in on itself like a testy soufflé. The fact that my downstairs neighbors crank the bass on their stereo system so high (that I feel like I'm caving in on myself at times) had me just a tad worried that my rigorous efforts to compose the perfect cake would still fall short. Nonetheless, I set my mind on something chocolatey.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, my kitchen is not the most well stocked in foodstuffs. It is, however, loaded with all sorts of alcohol. And you can be sure there is always a stick or two of butter in my fridge. I had no sugar, but I did find a canister of flour and a box of unsweetened cocoa powder. Surely I could do something with these ingredients. I've never made anything cakey without eggs, but I knew there were countless recipes for such things. After using the gloriously convenient "ingredient search" on, I settled on the aptly titled Eggless Chocolate Cake.

The original recipe calls for a 12 ounce can of cola, something that I never have in my apartment because I can't stand the sickly-sweet beverage. This is where the alcohol comes in. I cracked open a can of Heineken (left over from my father's last visit) and dumped it into the clumpy batter. I've heard tales of successful chocolate stout cakes, but I had no idea how well the cocoa would blend with a pale lager. I was about to find out.

Forty-five minutes of bass-bumping and floor vibrations later, my beer-infused cake had risen! Too anxious to sit through the cooling process, I sliced a sliver from the end and plopped it in my mouth. The first thing I tasted was cocoa, which was suddenly overcome by notes of barley from the beer. The overall flavor was slightly bitter, but that's nothing a slathering of sugar-rich fudge frosting didn't fix. The texture was surprisingly airy, yet moist enough to nix the need for a milk chaser.

I have to say, I was quite impressed with the way it turned out considering the strange mix of ingredients. While it's probably best to stick with Guinness or a similarly dry stout, this pale lager cake is the perfect treat for anyone who loves hops.

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