What IS the deal with 1/4 tsp. stout??!

The recently blogged Steamed Pudding by Alice Medrich,

calls for 1/4 tsp. stout! Does anyone know what function is served by that tiny amount of stout and if something else could be sub'ed? The dense ingredients look stupendously delicious, but we never drink stout and it seems a bit ridiculous. One of the reasons I value Medrich's books so much is that she explains them. But not this time, apparently. Thx for your help.

LeBec Fin


LeBec F. December 16, 2015
What does steaming for ~ 8 hours do- that can't be otherwise achieved? It seems such a medeival technique. But we're technologically advanced now, right? Call in Kenji (Lopez-Alt)!!
LeBec F. December 15, 2015
sarah, has baking soda been left out of this recipe accidentally? nancy mentioned the stout in nigella larson's recipe- acting on the baking soda, but there is no baking soda in alice's recipe as it appears here.
Nancy December 15, 2015
I may have (unintentionally) started a red herring.
I was speculating about the effect of stout on baking soda, but that was in a Christmas cake recipe. Alice Medrich is making a traditional Christmas pudding, which is denser and often doesn't have chemical leavening added to it.
Look forward to the answer.
Sarah J. December 15, 2015
Yes, it's a mistake. Should be 1/4 cup! Sorry about that confusion!!
LeBec F. December 15, 2015
Glad I caught that! sarah, can you ask Alice if the stout can be sub'd with something else? thx much.
Maedl December 15, 2015
That could be a typo--I'd question it.
Nancy December 15, 2015
LBF - the amount is strange. Many cakes, including Christmas cakes, have stout (somewhere around 1 cup or half a bottle), both for flavor and I suspect for boosting the action of the baking powder. See, e.g., this one from Nigella Lawson
Nancy December 15, 2015
I meant baking soda.
Jenny M. December 15, 2015
I would leavet out and if the batter looks to dry ADD some other liqued
Recommended by Food52