Slices of this chocolate bundt cake spent the better part of the past week in the car with me. Each piece, wrapped in parchment, tucked between the Ak-Mak crackers and a jar of almond butter. It is a fine travel cake. One that can handle a day or two in the car - blizzards, bumps in the road, hairpin turns, and all. Topped with not much more than a sweep of icing, it's unfussy, and ready to go straight from the pan. I make it with a blend of whole wheat and all-purpose flours, lots of yogurt, and the darkest brown sugar I can get my hands on. And it was just the thing to unwrap on a picnic table underneath a grove of sky-scraping redwood trees.
This cake gets sweetness and moisture from maple syrup and the darkest of brown sugars. I use beer in the batter, but you can't really taste it outright. More than anything it lends a malty base note and depth of flavor. Go for a not-too-hoppy porter or stout, or chocolate porter or chocolate stout. I know most of you can get your hands on a Guinness, which is totally fine as well.
I'm keeping this post short (making my way home) - but for those of you who don't have a bundt pan, I bake this batter in a wide range of pans. It makes great little cakes, and loaf cakes, and cupcakes. You know the drill, adjust the baking time, and bake until the sides of the cake start to pull away from the pan a bit, and a tester/knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Thank you to my Portland friends for the warm welcome. More pics to come, once I get home and can get some film developed. And I'm going to have to ask you to please forgive any typos :( It has been a long day involving flat tires, tow trucks, and nasty weather. xo -h
Chocolate Bundt Cake
I use less butter here, than most other cakes of this sort. And I'd argue, you can't really tell. That said, scaling back much more beyond this wasn't a good idea. Also, I use buttermilk in the icing because I typically have it on hand, but you can certainly substitute stout/porter or water.
Chocolate Bundt Cake:
2 cups / 475 ml chocolate porter or stout beer
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup / 75g natural cocoa powder (non-dutched)
1 cup / 5 oz / 140 g whole wheat flour
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g all-purpose flour
1 cup / 4.25 oz / 120 g muscovado or dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups / 355 ml plain whole yogurt
3/4 cup / 180 ml pure maple syrup
Chocolate Buttermilk Icing:
3/4 cup / 2.75 oz / 75 g powdered sugar
1/4 cup / 25g natural cocoa powder (non-dutched)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
flaky sea salt, to serve
Preheat oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the center.
Butter and flour (generously) a 11 or 12-cup capacity bundt pan (or equivalent). As I mention up above, you can bake this in other cake pans, just be mindful to avoid filling the pan(s) more than 2/3 - 3/4 full. Adjust the baking time as well - baking until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the center tests clean when you insert a knife.
In a saucepan simmer the beer down to 1 cup / 240 ml. Remove from heat, add the butter and stir until melted. Stir in the cocoa powder, mixing until smooth, then set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to let off heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, yogurt, and maple syrup. Whisk well, until nicely blended and uniform in appearance. Gradually add the (cooled) stout mixture, stirring all the while. Stir until well blended. Add the flour mixture, folding until just blended, using as few strokes as possible.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 35 - 45 minutes if using the bundt pan, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. You really don't want to over bake this cake - err on the slightly moist side if anything. Remove from the oven, and turn out onto a cooling rack after seven minutes.
In the meantime, make the icing by whisking together the powdered sugar, cocoa, and buttermilk. Really go at it for at least a minute. The icing should end up smooth and creamy looking, adjust with a touch of powdered sugar or a few extra drops of buttermilk if you want to tweak the consistency at all. When the cake is completely cool, run the icing around the top with an offset spatula and let it set.
Serve sprinkled with a bit of flaky sea salt. But don't sprinkle with flakes of salt until ready to serve, or you'll end up with little divots (see photos :)...
Makes one chocolate bundt cake.
Prep time: 25 minutes - Cook time: 45 minutes