Recipe: Chocolate Cherry Porter Cake

About 15 years ago I had my first slice of chocolate stout cake in a café in Didsbury. It was probably the best cake I’d ever eaten and I once I started baking regularly, I wanted to make one for myself.

I’ve baked this cake many times now, each time with a different stout or porter. It’s such a rich, delicious cake and really very simple to make. After going to this year’s Didsbury Beer Festival, I was reminded how good the Dunham Massey Chocolate Cherry Dark Mild was and I knew I needed to bake this with it.

Recipe: Chocolate Cherry Porter Cake

A bottle of the Dunham Massey Chocolate Cherry Dark Mild usually has 500ml of stout in it, which is enough for two cakes, so I often double up the recipe and bake two cakes. Un-frosted, they keep quite well, though that’s never really an issue in my greedy house.

Chocolate Cherry Porter Cake

250ml Stout or porter, I used Dunham Massey Chocolate Cherry Dark Mild
250g Butter
75g Cocoa powder
400g Caster sugar
150g Sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
275g plain flour
3 teaspoons of Bicarbonate of soda

For the frosting
250g Cream cheese
150g Icing sugar
2 tsp Cornflour
125ml Double cream

Recipe: Chocolate Cherry Porter Cake

How to make a Chocolate Cherry Porter Cake

Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease and line a 9 inch cake tin.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add your stout or porter. Add the cocoa powder and sugar and whist gently until the sugar dissolves.

In a mixing bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the pan and finally whisk in the flour and the bicarbonate of soda.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 50 minutes to an hour. As the batter is quite wet, I tend to leave it in the cooling oven for 15 minutes to stop the cake shocking and sinking in the middle. If it does sink a little in the middle, it’s not a disaster, it’s just a tasty dent you can fill with the frosting! Once you’ve removed the cake from the over, leave it to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack.

When the cake is completely cool, it’s time to make your frosting. In a clean bowl, whip the cream cheese until it is smooth, sift the icing sugar through a fine sieve and do the same with the cornflour; then beat to combine with the cream cheese.

In a separate bowl, whip your double cream until it is thick and then fold it through the cream cheese mixture. Spread it thickly over the top of your cake, which should look like a dark pint of stout with a rich creamy head.

If I’d thought it through at the time, I would have also decorated the cake with chocolate dipped fresh cherries; but maybe that’s one for the summer when they’re in season.

This cake works really well with all kinds of stouts and porters; so pick your favourite and give it a whirl!

Recipe: Chocolate Cherry Porter Cake

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I Couldn’t be Hoppier (at Didsbury Beer Festival)

I’ve lived in Didsbury for 30 something years and for the last six years we’ve celebrated that fact by going to the annual Didsbury Beer Festival. This year is the 6th and seemingly biggest of the festivals so far.

We ambled along on opening night, which just happened to be Halloween. Festival patrons (sounds posh that doesn’t it) were encouraged to dress up in their spookiest costumes for Halloween. Although most of the visitors (or patrons as I now somehow feel obliged to call them) were dressed reasonably normally, there was a decent group of zombies, witches, superheroes and spooks necking some of the 100+ ales available. There were ciders and perries too, as well as a couple of lagers for the ale intolerant.

Didsbury beer festival

Much as I would’ve loved to have sampled every drink available in the enormous marquee, I felt I owed it to my liver to moderate my intake for once. Ably assisting me was husband Hodge, fine ales aficionado and emergency carrier of the handbag. Together we sampled a mere 8 of the vast array of foamy drinkies on offer.

Here’s what we tried… (full list is available on the website)

Dunham Massey Chocolate Cherry Mild
Dunham Massey Chocolate Cherry Mild
  • Bollington Brewing Company – White Nancy
  • Brightside Brewing Company – Manchester Skyline
  • Chantry Brewery – Didsbury Festival Ale
  • Dunham Massey – Chocolate Cherry Mild
  • Fool Hardy Ales – Risky Blond
  • Fyne Ales – Hurricane Jack
  • Outstanding – Halloween
  • RedWillow Brewery – Wreckless

I had two stand out favourites. The first being Halloween from the Outstanding Brewery. A cheeky little number, containing ginger, cinnamon and treacle. I only tried it because of its terrifyingly topical name, but my goodness, I’ve never, ever tried a drink that tasted like Parkin before. I need to get my sticky cake loving, beery mitts on some bottles of this beautiful beverage of gorgeousness.

My other favourite (so good we got a second one) was the Chocolate Cherry Mild from Dunham Massey. I love cherries so thought I’d give this a go, I wasn’t really expecting very much at all, thought it’d be some novelty awfulness but my giddy aunt, it was amazing. Even husband Hodge couldn’t get enough of it. Those two brews are definitely going on my Christmas list.

Lucky husband Hodge is off enjoying each remaining night of the festival. So no doubt he’ll work his way through most of the list. If what we tried was any indication, I’d say the beers were of a high standard and thoughtfully chosen for inclusion in the festival. There’s a huge range of ale styles available and something to suit all tastes.

There is food, entertainment and drink aplenty available throughout the festival, so get yourself down there. Sample some beers, vanquish any remaining vampires and have a great, social, community night out.

Didsbury Beer Festival runs 31st October  – 2nd November at St. Catherine’s Social Club, School Lane, Didsbury, Manchester. Visit their website for more information.