Gingerbread Beer Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Icing

It’s been a while since there was a layer cake in these parts. Well, that’s not true at all….there were 10 of them recently, but they don’t really count. So cake time it is.

I made this cake for a friend’s birthday and served it at a dinner party at my place. As always happens when I’m hosting a dinner, I neglected to take many, if any, good pictures of this cake. So you’ll just have to believe me, it was amazeballs.

This is one serious adult cake. The cake itself is an incredibly spicy, dense gingerbread, moist and beer-y. The icing is an intense, bittersweet whipped ganache, shiny and soft, but oh-so-rich. If you want to go over the top, as I did, serve it with burnt sugar ice cream. To die for.

Gingerbread Beer Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Icing

From Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne.

Warning: This cake is really, really, really sticky, so grease your pan copiously. And just be prepared for sticking. It will all be fine in the end….

Cakes
2 1/4 c cake flour
2 c sugar
4 t unsweetened cocoa powder
4 1/2 t ground ginger
1 T ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t grated nutmeg
1 1/2 t powdered mustard
3/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground cardamom
2 1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 c dark beer or porter (not stout)
1/2 c unsulphured molasses
6 T buttermilk
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs

Frosting
10 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

Make the cakes:

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Butter 3 8″-round cake pans, line each with parchment paper, and grease again
  • Add the first 11 ingredients (the dry ingredients) to a large bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until well combined
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the beer, molasses, buttermilk and vanilla until combined
  • Add the softened butter and 2/3 of the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; beat on low until well blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes or until lighter and fluffy
  • Add the eggs to the rest of the wet ingredients and whisk to combine. Add this liquid to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the side of the bowl a few times
  • Divide the batter into the prepared pans and bake ~25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  • Let cool 10 minutes, then remove from pans, remove paper and cool on wire racks

While the cake bakes, make the frosting:

  • Melt the chocolate with the cream in the top of a double boiler (full disclosure: I just melted it directly in a heavy-bottomed saucepan….do this at your own risk)
  • Remove from heat and let cool, whisking occasionally, until cool and the consistency of mayonnaise
  • Place the butter in a large bowl and whip with an electric mixer until fluffy
  • Add the chocolate and beat until lighter in color and a little stiff, ~3 min (don’t beat too long)

Assemble your cake:

  • When the cakes are completely cool, remove any humps using a serrated knife
  • Place one layer on a cake plate and place wax paper under the edges to catch icing smudges
  • Top the first layer with 3/4 c frosting and smooth the frosting to the edges
  • Place the next layer on top, followed by another 3/4 c frosting-spread to the edges
  • Top with the final cake, bottom (flat)-side up and cover completely in frosting. This is a loose frosting, so don’t try to make it perfect, just make it fun
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