his unusual cake calls for milk stout, a heavy dark beer that is sweetened with lactose, the sugar derived from milk. The icing is made with barley malt syrup. I enjoy the rich flavor combination of the malt and beer, and the moist dense carrot cake–like texture, when the weather is bitter cold. —Jenny McCoy
an 8-inch two layer cake
Milk Stout Cake
unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons
fine sea salt
(2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
packed light brown sugar
1 - 12 ounces
bottle of milk stout beer, at room temperature
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly coat two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne together into a bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the molasses and egg and mix until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, reduce the mixer speed to low, and slowly add the dry ingredients and beer, alternating between the two, until the batter is fully combined. The batter may look curdled at this point, which is okay (see Note).
Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake until fully set, about 25 minutes. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans. Gently run a knife around the edge of the cakes and invert to remove them from the pans, rapping each pan lightly if needed to loosen.
Place one layer of the cake in the center of a serving plate. Top with about one-third of the buttercream and spread an even layer over the entire surface of the cake. Set the second layer of cake on top of the buttercream, taking care to center it perfectly on the first layer of cake.
Mound the remaining buttercream on the top of the cake and, using a large offset spatula, frost the top of the cake, while spreading the excess icing evenly onto the sides of the cake to create a thick layer of icing over the entire cake. Apply a bit of pressure to the tip of the spatula as you are icing to create a swirled texture. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until the icing is a bit set, about 30 minutes.
Note: The cake batter will look like it is curdling due to the large amount of liquid being added. Do not panic—when the sifted dry ingredients are combined in the batter, the texture will become smoother.
Malted Milk Buttercream
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat
the egg whites and sugar on high speed until thick, glossy, and tripled
in volume, about 8 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and
slowly add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and the salt. Scrape down
the sides of the bowl, increase the mixer speed to medium, and slowly add the barley malt syrup. Increase the mixer speed to high and whip until
thickened and completely smooth, about 10 minutes. Set the icing aside
at room temperature until ready use, up to 3 hours.