The first time I made a cake I did everything wrong.
I didn’t care what the directions said, I was going to do it my way, because that made way more sense. I was just going to add all the ingredients at once, because that saves time. And the greasing and flouring of the pans, I had no idea what this meant, and it sounded like a lot of work. So I skipped it. I didn’t check the oven temperate, I just turned it on. And then the frosting, I did the same thing. It ended up looking like cottage cheese. And the cake didn’t come out of the pan, and because the batter wasn’t mixed well, and the butter was still in lumps, it had crater like pock marks where the butter lumps had melted.
But I ate it anyway, with my lumpy frosting.
I’ve made a thousand cakes since then, but that’s the one that I learned the most from. That’s the one I remember. I learned that directions matter, that softened butter is an important thing, that steps count, as does oven temperate. I learned that if you’re going to all the work to make a cake from scratch, you should respect the process and enjoy the time. Or just go buy one.
Be all in or all out, but don’t half way make a cake. If you’re going to do it, make it count. And enjoy every minute.
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup chocolate stout
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
- Pinch salt
- 1/3 cup pale ale or brown ale
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 lbs powdered sugar
- 1 (3.5 oz) bar dark chocolate, grated (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add the butter and sugar, beat until well combined, about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs and the vanilla, beating until well combined, scraping the bottom of the mixer to insure the butter is well incorporated into the mixture.
- Add the sour cream, oil and beer, stir until well combined.
- Stop the mixer, sprinkle with salt, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda, stir until just combined.
- Grease and flour 3, 9-inch, cake pans. Divide batter evenly between the three pans.
- Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.
- Allow to cool for 20 minutes, transfer to a wire rack, allow to cool completely.
- Add the cream to a stand mixer, beat on high until medium peaks form, about 4 minutes. Transfer whipped cream to a separate bowl.
- In the stand mixer (no need to clean between jobs), add the cream cheese. Beat on high until light and fluff, about 6 minutes.
- Add the salt, beer, vanilla extract. Slowly build up speed, beat until well incorporated. Add the powdered sugar, beat until well combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream.
- Plate one layer of cake, top with frosting. Add another cake layer, top with frosting. Add the final layer and frost the cake with remaining icing.
- Press the grated chocolate into the sides of the cake, if desired.