This is one of the easiest things in the world to bake. These egg-free, dairy-free cakes always fascinate me. In Shirley Corriher’s book BakeWise (which is a great book for the baking-obsessed), she has a similar recipe for Crazy Cake, and she mentions the importance of the water getting to the flour before the oil does, or the cake may not hold together well. Very science-y, but I believe her. So I added my oil at the end. Her method is the mix-in-the-pan kind, but I prefer the separate bowl method, because then you get to lick the bowl, which, after all, is half of the fun of making a cake. This recipe is adapted from the Double Chocolate Cake recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Note that this makes enough batter for a dozen cupcakes; see the directions below.
Vegan notes: Since Guinness is not a vegan beer (they use isinglass in its production, a collagen derived from fish), I substitute Lagunitas Imperial Stout, which is vegan. Or sometimes, I use all coffee for the liquid portion of the recipe. —mrslarkin
Test Kitchen Notes
If you want to bake this batter in cupcake-form, just bake for 18 to 23 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out slightly moist. Let the cupcakes cool. Frost with your favorite frosting or dip the tops into a simple icing made of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and coffee. Decorate the tops with a fresh coffee bean while the icing is still tacky.
The words "chocolate" and "stout" grabbed me before even I realized this was a no-dairy recipe. I had this crazy notion that the best baked goods involved eggs, but this fantastic cake proved me wrong. Plus, it couldn’t have been easier to make: With the exception of the beer—I used bottled Guinness Extra Stout—all of the ingredients are probably in your pantry, and the batter comes together in minutes. The cake has a surprisingly light texture and deep chocolate flavor with a slightly bitter edge from the stout and coffee. I couldn’t resist a piece barely cooled from the oven, washed down with the rest of the stout. Certainly can't go wrong with that combo! Yum! —Midge
plus 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
espresso or strong coffee
Guinness Stout (not vegan) or Lagunitas Imperial Stout (vegan)
apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
(scant) vegetable oil
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
In This Recipe
Place a rack in the middle of the oven; heat to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch cake pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment; lightly spray the parchment. (This is in case you decide to remove the cake from the pan and frost completely. But usually we just frost the top and eat right out of the pan.)
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift into a large bowl; you'll thank yourself for this extra step later when your cake is free of baking soda lumps (this I know for a fact).
In a liquid measuring cup, mix the espresso, stout, water, vanilla, and vinegar. Add to the flour mixture and stir a few times, then add the oil and continue to stir until smooth and combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out very slightly moist. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Turn out onto a cake plate or platter. Peel off the parchment and lick off the stuck-on fudgy layer—I won't tell. Dust the cake with the powdered sugar, if using. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk!