Chocolate stout cake

A couple of years ago I had the bright idea to do an issue of The Baking Sheet that baked with beer in as many ways as I could think of. My coup de grace was this Chocolate Stout Cake, the perfect indulgence for a St. Patrick’s Day party. It’s tall and majestic, a veritable Brian Boru of cakes.

While still in college I traveled through Ireland, and it happened that I arrived in Dublin on March 17. The Irish find our action spasm over their native saint a bit over the top; on the Emerald Isle it’s much more of an occasion to go to Mass, not party in the streets. (Anyone who’s been on Rush St. in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day knows what I’m talking about. And that’s AFTER they turn the river green for the day. On purpose.)
But no Irishman I know would turn up his nose at this cake, sure as you’re born.
No matter how you decide to celebrate your inner or outer Irishness this month, our Chocolate Stout Cake is an amazing marriage of flavors for grownup tastes.

Once you’ve got a pint of good stout and your cake pans in hand, we can start. If you want to read the recipe first, click here.

Put the beer into a saucepan with the butter; heat over a low flame until the butter melts.


Pour in the cocoa, and whisk until the mixture is smooth.


Cool the mixture to room temperature. If you do this step first, the mixture should be cool enough to use by the time you need it. If not, stay tuned, I’ll show you how to hurry the process along.

Next, choose how big a cake you want. This recipe can be halved and baked in one pan, then split and frosted. If you want the full-sized cake, you’ll need three 8-inch pans, or two 9-inch pans that are at least 2″ deep. Trust me, 5 seconds and a quick check with a ruler will save you an hour of cleaning the oven and a lot of bad smells.

Is the pan 9″ from one inside edge to the other? Good. How deep is it?

We love these Doughmakers pans, because they’re properly sized, release beautifully, and have a lip on the edge that makes them MUCH easier to use. Parchment paper circles are also an indulgence (and a great gift) for anyone who makes cakes on a regular basis.

Spray the pans, put in a parchment circle (you can trace and cut your own in a pinch), give it a spritz, then put a couple tablespoons of flour into the pan. Tap it all around until the pan is coated, then tap any excess into the second pan to repeat the process (you’ll probably need a little more flour for the next one).


The next step should be to make the frosting, it’ll need some time to chill and set up.
We’re frosting this cake with a bittersweet chocolate ganache, which is simply equal amounts of chocolate and heavy cream (by weight) with a splash of vanilla. I scavenged the pantry for bittersweet chocolate, and found a lump of leftover tempered chocolate from a photo shoot: the perfect kind of thing to use up in this recipe.
Everything is in the bowl, waiting for simmering cream to melt it.


Heavy cream is a staple in restaurants. Often chefs will use heavy cream that’s been painstakingly reduced by half to thicken sauces. I was all fired up to give you one of my favorite chef’s tricks about heating cream and keeping it from boiling over.
There are two tricks to this. First, you need a pot that’s at least twice as deep as the level of the cream you put into it. Second, putting a metal spoon or a ladle into the cream as it heats will break the surface tension of the simmering cream, and (usually) keep it from boiling over.

So I set up the pot, put a spoon in it, and stood there taking pictures of what happened next.


First it simmers, then it starts to climb….


Oh, how the mighty are fallen….


I realized (after a few choice words and half an hour of cleanup) that the pot I’d chosen was way too small for the volume of cream I’d put into it. Even worse, after I measured the hot cream I had left after my “accident,” I had to heat another 4 ounces.

Back to the scale with the hot pan.


But this time, I got the picture I was after in the first place. The cream rises up as it simmers, but the spoon keeps it from going over.


Once the cream is poured on the chocolate, stir until the chocolate melts.


This takes awhile; once everything is smooth, add the vanilla.


Now tuck the ganache in the fridge and set a timer for 20 minutes. You’ll want to come back and stir every 20 minutes as the ganache cools.


Not thick enough yet.


Ah, now we’re talking. When the chocolate looks like this, leave it out at room temperature until you’re ready to frost the cake.

Let’s get the cake in the oven. Don’t forget to turn on the oven: 350°F. First, measure out the dry ingredients. I’m testing this home version of a baker’s scale from Salter. So far I like it a lot, mostly for the shape of the “sled,” where the ingredients go. I was able to fit 4 cups of flour and 4 cups of sugar into it, as well as the salt and baking powder in the recipe.


I whisked them together to blend; now for the wet stuff.


Into the mixer’s bowl go the eggs and sour cream.


By now the beer and chocolate mixture should be cool; if not, set the saucepan in a little bit of ice water, as I did here, and stir it to bring the temperature down. This only takes 5 minutes.


Now add the beer mixture to the eggs.


Next, add the dry ingredients. This is the other reason I love this scale; the shape of the sled makes it much easier to add dry ingredients to the mixing bowl.


Once everything is combined, divide the batter between the pans. I do this with my scale, also. First I weigh the whole recipe’s worth of batter. I’m lucky enough to have a second bowl for my mixer, so I put the empty bowl on the scale, set it to zero to tare it, then put the batter-filled bowl in its place. The batch weighs just shy of 6 pounds(!) 5 pounds, 15 ounces, to be exact. 95 ounces of batter to be divided by as many pans are being employed.


The pans go into the oven; as you can see, the batter fills them halfway.


This is how things look after 20 minutes of baking.


Now the cakes are testing done; they’re shrinking from the sides, and a straw inserted in the center comes out clean.


Put the cake on a rack to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

To take them out of the pan, run a table knife or nylon spreader around the edge of the cake to free it; then flip the cake out of the pan onto a plate, then back right side up (its parchment circle will still be on the bottom; leave it there for now) and return it to the rack to finish cooling completely.

When it’s time to assemble the cake, trim the top to be level. The layers will get stacked upside-down, but if you don’t take this step, the bottoms will crack because they’re flexing on the uneven surface.


Put the cake trimmed-side down on a cake plate. I like these glass plates because you can look through them to see that the layer is centered before flipping everything over.
Now cut some strips of parchment or waxed paper, and tuck them under the edge of the cake all the way around. This lets you make free with the chocolate frosting without fear of creating an irrevocable mess (something I’m way too good at).


Spread about 2/3 cup of the ganache on the first layer. Trim the second layer if necessary, and turn it over onto the first. The ganache is usually forgiving enough to let you slide the top a bit to get it lined up just right.


Now spread the frosting around the side of the cake. See why the parchment was a good idea?


Once the cake is covered, gently pull the paper straight out from underneath the cake, leaving the plate nice and clean.


I like to finish this beauty with a sprinkling of sugar shamrocks.

Fabulous, eh?
Read, try, and rate our Chocolate Stout Cake recipe here.

Bake vs. buy

Buy: Chocolate Downpour Cake: $59.99, $3.75 per slice
Bake at home: Stout Cake, $20.92, $1.31 per slice.

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. Bridgett

    Oh, who can look at that cake and not drool?! You have added another recipe to my “must try” file for St. Patty’s Day. And as in Chicago, here in Cincinnati we celebrate big too!
    Yeah, it’s a force to be reckoned with, is this one…Susan

  2. Claire

    Oh, yum. I made whole grain version (from the KAF Whole Grain book) for my husband’s birthday last year. My choco-holic husband made me promise I’d never make him any other cake again. I even liked it, and I’m not really into chocolate that much. I found a chocolate stout beer that worked really well. Maybe not so Irish, but definitely eyes-rolling-back-into-your-head good.

  3. Gin

    > If you want to read the recipe first, click here.

    Ack! There is no link behind the “click here.” I wanna click!!! Please?

    OK, think all the links are fixed – PJH

  4. Mike T.

    Yum! I love dark beers, not this pale stuff most U.S. folks drink.

    Suggestion, for chocolate cakes, use cocoa for dusting the pans as it doesn’t leave white residue on the cakes (tho when you frost them it usually gets covered) and it lends a nice dark chocolate taste to the cake to offset some of the sweetness of the frosting.

    Also, I noticed the “click here” for the recipe is not a link, and later you talk about the pans and have “Doughmakers pans (link)” and I’m guessing you were going to look up the link and put it in…

    🙂 Been there, done that!

    All set, fixed the links. Thanks, Mike – PJH

  5. Mike T.

    I was just thinking, for those who are not dark beer people, making this for dark beer people, you might want to consider the type of beer to use. Porters are lighter tasting than Stouts and both come in a range of sweetness. It’s been a while since I’ve had Porters, but in the Stout category, you might look for Mackeson Triple XXX if you want a sweeter flavor, Sheaf Stout for a sweet but still tending toward the bitters, and Guinness if you want stronger flavor with not too much sweet to it.

  6. Anne

    proud irish chicagoan here, very excited about trying this cake. i think it’ll be a big hit, even for those imbibing off of the hustle & bustle of Rush.

  7. Katherine

    Could you make these into cupcakes? If so, how many “Cups” would you need?
    There’s no reason you couldn’t make this as cupcakes. My estimate is that the recipe will make between 24 and 30 cupcakes. Susan

  8. Kathleen

    This kind of comes at a perfect time as I was just going through some of the recipes in The Baking Sheet. We do not drink or allow beer or any other spirits in our home. Is there anything that can be substituted for the beer, rum, brandy or whatever in some of the recipes? Not just this recipe but others also such as the Celebration Rum Cake. Any help would be appreciated.
    Kathleen: There are non-alcoholic beers for the Stout cake, but I think something like Moxie or Postum might be an adequate substitute in this particular recipe. Fruit juices are usually a good substitute in other baking recipes. If it’s a bread or cake where fruit is soaked in alcohol, apple juice or orange juice generally work well. For the Rum cake I’d use apple juice and a rum flavoring. Susan

  9. Rachel

    A tip for the parchment circles; if you have the rolling mat from KA, you can put parchment over it and trace (lightly!) with pencil over whatever size circle you want.

  10. anan

    why do you not use magic strips so as not to need to level the cake? I haven’t tried them yet – do they ever change the texture/taste of the cake?

    Anan: You certainly could use cake strips on this recipe if you were so inclined. They’re not an absolute guarantee of perfect flatness, but they do diminish doming. They don’t change the taste of the cake at all; they just even out the way heat interacts with the cake, allowing the center and the edges to set at the same time, so the uncooked batter in the middle isn’t forced upward. The outside of the cake is a teeny bit less crispy with the strips. Susan

  11. Fearless Kitchen

    This looks wonderful. On the one hand I usually just like to drink my stout, not cook with it, but on the other hand this looks so tasty I might have to break my rule!
    I suggest having some company over to help you with the results. Although I’m told by a colleague who adopted the last cake I made that it kept very well on the counter for almost 3 weeks! Susan

    1. Karen

      You should try cooking beef in stout ! Lots of recipes; use it like you would beef stock. BTW I love drinking it too !

  12. Anonymous Coward

    In the recipe, there is a “nutrition facts” box, but it doesn’t show up in the “printable version”?
    We’re working on that; we were having trouble with all of the comments on a recipe printing, also, thereby wasting your paper; we should have a handle on this shortly. Susan

    1. Stauntonian

      Oh, you might not want to look at the Nutrition numbers . . . . . just enjoy! (in moderation, of course!) The cake is great, and rich, I predict you will not be able to eat more than one small slice in a given day.

  13. Bridgid

    I am sure that Chicago has a great celebration, but please please please come to NYC for the parade one of these years! It is the largest parade in the world, and it was a special celebration for my Dad & me – he’d take me to the parade and watch his bagpipe band (FDNY Emerald Society Pies & Drums) march in the parade (he stopped marching because he had hurt his ankle). It is such an amazing celebration, you’d love it (maybe as much as this cake!!) So on behalf of NY, “cead mille failte!” (100,000 welcomes!)
    Bridgid: I’m with you, dearie! I grew up 40 miles from Manhattan, and while I’ve never made it into town for the big doin’s , it’s always been a touchstone for the Reardon side of the family! Susan

  14. Patty

    You mentioned in an earlier post that cupcakes will work, how about a sheet cake? I would love to take this to work on St. Paddy’s Day, and a sheet cake will go much farther. What do you think the baking time would be?
    Hi, Patty. This cake would amply fill a 13 x 9-inch pan; enough so you could probably split and fill it if you wanted to. If you’re talking bakery-size half sheet pan (13 x 18 inches), I’d increase the recipe by 1 1/2, and make two full layers. I’d start with 35 to 40 minutes for sheet cakes and keep an eye on them from there. Susan

  15. Nel

    Maybe this is a stupid question, but does this cake taste like beer? Or chocolate? Or beer and chocolate?

    What function does the beer have in the cake? It sounds like a really weird flavor combination to me. Of course, I don’t like anything like beer. (Probably stout isn’t beer, but it’s all the same to me.)

    Also, the pans you used look in the photos like they don’t have straight sides, but then the cake doesn’t look like it has slanted sides. Are they straight-sided pans?
    Hi, Nel. The cake tastes mostly like chocolate, with some nice, malty overtones on the finish. The beer keeps it very, very moist. The pans are straight-sided; the particular ones I used here are from Doughmakers, and I like them because they have a slight lip on the edge. Makes it easier to tilt the cake out of the pan after it’s cooled. Susan

  16. benita

    This recipe looks like another one I have to try. I love these blogs where you break things down step by step. I have been baking for years but I learn something new each time I read one of them. They all make me think “I could do that.” I bake almost every weekend but unfortunately I don’t have the time to try each one. And then what do I do with my old favorite recipes? Gotta have time to bake them. Oh What will I do?
    Just make sure you share those great recipes with friends and family, so they’ll be able to honor you by making them! Susan

  17. Joanne

    Just a comment on the baking strips – I tried them and found them unreliable. However, over time I have come to truly appreciate that “dome” on the cake. I bake cakes for other people, and the dome that has to be sliced away is a good way to taste test my cakes. Also, that dome can be made into crumbs with many uses. I do an excellent, easy dessert with them – a scoop of ice cream (chocolate is our favorite), a healthy drizzle of chocolate liqueur and a big sprinkle of cake crumbs – served in a martini glass it’s elegant enough for company.

  18. Doyle

    This recipe calls for 1# of Butter. Do you realize what the fat content per silce is? Off the charts. That would be saturated fat at that. Try and come up with a lower fat content recipe and I will make it.

    Doyle, clearly this recipe isn’t for you. But we do have many lower-fat (and some nonfat as well) recipes in this blog, and at To each his own, eh? PJH

  19. Julia

    I’m a little puzzled by the appearance of the frosting in the photo
    of the finished cake, where it looks very thick and fudge-like–not
    at all shiny (and softer in texture) as in the photos of the cake
    being iced. Does the frosting dull out and thicken as it cools?

    Hi, Julia. The “beauty” shot was taken earlier, and when I frosted that one the ganache had cooled further before I spread it. Then I backtracked for the step by step photos, and didn’t wait as long for the ganache the second time I made it. So what you see there is the range of looks, from shiny to matte, that the ganache will give you, depending on its temperature. Susan

  20. Jake

    Interesting. This is a very different recipe than that offered by Tish Boyle (Chocolate Guinness Cake). Have you tried her version?

    I haven’t. I expect there are as many variations of this cake as there are shades of green in Spring. Frank from KAF.

  21. Sandy

    Yum! I must try this cake. At a restaurant in Chapel Hill NC (we live in the Triangle area) I had a stout cake for dessert. It was the best chocolate cake I have ever had. It was so moist, dense and flavorful. I can’t wait to try this recipe as am sure it will be very much like the one I had in this restaurant.

  22. Nan

    This cake sounds terrific. Is the batter volume too much for a bundt cake? I would then make a thinner ganache and pour it over the finished cake.

    Two 9″ pans hold about 12 cups of batter. Check that against your bundt. If it fits, watch the top of the cake during the bake. It may need to be tented towards the end of baking to prevent a thick crust. Frank from KAF.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mayre, it sounds like the full version of this recipe might fill your Bundt pan to the very tippy-top (which will likely cause problems when it’s in the oven). You may consider reducing the recipe by 25% for a better fit. A cake of this volume will like take 45-55 minutes to bake all the way through. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center; when it comes out clean, it’s done baking. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  23. Elizabeth

    Hey Susan, what is tempered chocolate? Chocolate with an attitude?

    I read where you used some leftover (tempered chocolate ) …. Thanks, Elizabeth Tempered chocolate is chocolate that has been stablized through a melting and cooling process, thereby making it more malleable and glossy. What is tempering? Why do you temper? How do you temper chocolate?

    A: Tempered chocolate is chocolate that has been treated in such a way that its crystalline structure changes. The result is hard, shiny chocolate that snaps crisply when broken, feels dry to the touch and smooth in the mouth, will not bloom when kept away from heat, and melts at a specific temperature (1-2 degrees below normal body temperature).

    Most chocolate you buy is already tempered. Chocolate can go out of temper. If you are making candy or dipping strawberries in chocolate, tempering is an important step. If you do not temper the chocolate properly, the coating may appear streaked and won’t have that attractive snap when you bite into it.

    To temper chocolate, first chop up the chocolate you want to temper. Save a few chunks for later in the process. Then, melt all but the few chunks of chocolate over a double boiler to 110 degrees. By melting chocolate to 110 degrees F, you dissolve all crystals and start from scratch.

    Take the chocolate off the heat. Add the chunks of chocolate you held back and, stirring, let it cool to about 80 degrees F.

    Reheat the chocolate using a flash method over the hot water in the double boiler. Heat it 3 to 5 seconds at a time, take it off the heat, put it back on, rather than just sitting the bowl back on top of the hot water, until the mixture reaches 91 degrees F.

    At this point your chocolate should be well tempered. To test, spread a thin layer of chocolate on a plate and cool it. A fan helps at this stage. When the chocolate on the plate is cool, it should be hard, not sticky, and shiny, not streaked. If this is the case, your chocolate is properly tempered. If it is not, begin the process all over again. Mary @ KAF

  24. Sansho

    It’s the amount of sugar in the cake which amazes me!! Brownies amaze me, too! As a European, American cakes are so sweet as to be almost uneatable! What effect would reducing the sugar have, I wonder.
    Sansho: Part of the reason the nutritionals in this cake are so intimidating is because it’s so big. Better to make half the recipe and split a single layer than compromise the chemistry of the cake. Stout isn’t exactly sweet, and a lot of the sugar is there for flavor balance. Sugar’s other function is in the structure of the cake: its crystals help build air pockets when it’s creamed with butter, and it acts as a liquid during the baking process, keeping things moist. If you want to try a lower-sugar version, I’d suggest reaching for the Splenda for baking, which is a 50/50 blend of Splenda and sugar. Susan

  25. Martina

    You said this recipe would make 24-30 cupcakes. Is the frosting/ganache recipe enough for that number of cupcakes or do I need to increase the amount?

    Martina – To be safe, you may want to make the ganache in a 1 1/2X recipe. You can always freeze the leftovers. Simply defrost in the fridge. Heat up in a bowl over a water bath or in the microwave. Elisabeth @ KAF

  26. Ginger

    Would the finished cake need to be refrigerated since it’s frosted with ganache?

    If the back issue of The Baking Sheet, that this recipe came from, is still available could you let me know which one it is?


    And to KAF, if you haven’t already you may want to read the reviews that have been posted for this recipe. You may want to remove most of them since only a few actually comment about making the cake. The rest are complaining about the nutrition. To me those that haven’t made a recipe should not comment. And if they do they should not give it a bad rating just because they don’t like the looks of it. Everyone likes to make different things. So to each their own when it comes to cooking.

    Ginger: The ganche is stable at room temperature for quite a while; I have seen it develop mold if left out for 4 or 5 days, but the sugar and low water activity in the mixture keeps it from being potentially hazardous as far as bacteria. And the recipe did make it’s debut in The Baking Sheet, Early Spring 2006.

    I tend to agree, that if you haven’t made a recipe, it doesn’t make sense to sit back and take potshots at it, but when you read the subsequent responses, the discussion kind of takes care of itself. I’ve often had a reaction to a recipe, thinking it’s a bad idea, or just couldn’t work, but experience has taught me to give things a whirl and maybe I’ll learn something! Susan

  27. C.B.

    Oh, I loved reading this blog entry on your Chocolate Stout Cake! (Even though I’ll never bake it, having just been diagnosed as diabetic.) I always love the step, by step pictures on your blog because when cooking and baking I think there’s no substitute for “seeing” how it’s done.

    I’d like more info on that neat scale you used. Someone posted a link above, but it doesn’t lead to the same scale.

    C.B.: ( and previous person who asked) the model number on the bottom of the Salter scale I used in this blog is 5008; I don’t think it’s available just yet. Will check with our merchandise department and let you know when/if we’re going to carry it. Susan

  28. meredith

    I see the note that the recipe can easily be halved, and baked in one “tall” 9″ pan. Could I use a springform pan – say, 8 1/2″ or 9 1/2″ successfully?
    Meredith: the sides of the pan would need to be at least 2 inches high. Susan

  29. angel

    1. I can hardly wait to try and turn this receipe into cup cakes. Could you please specify the sizes of the cupcakes you mentioned. I wasnt clear if the receipe would yield 24-30 2 1/2 C. cakes or something larger. If you could please give oz or cup size for the cupcakes it would be greatly appreciated.
    2. In addition, is it possible to make a white chocolate ganache instead of the dark chocolate. Can you subsitute the semisweet chocolate for Ghirardelli white chips or use the equal amount of weight for white chocolate as you do for semi sweet?
    3. Do you think these cupcakes will hold up during mailing?
    Txs for the wonderful receipe and a chance to read other helpful comments.
    Angel: The only reason I gave a range as far as the cupcakes go is because I haven’t measured the total volume that the batter makes. I’m assuming a standard-sized muffin tin, where the wells are the following dimensions: bottom is 2 inches in diameter, top is 2 3/4 inches across, and sides are 1 3/4 inches deep.

    I see no reason why you couldn’t use white chocolate for the dark in the ganache. And if they’re properly packed, they should also mail pretty well.
    Keep us posted with your results! Susan

  30. Debra

    Well, I printed out this recipe and was about to whip it up when I had this flash of insight – Beer gives me a rash (bummer of an allergy) and Guinness is beer. I saw the suggestions of substituting Postum or Moxie. It seems that Postum has been discontinued and Moxie isn’t exactly readily available in Texas. Do you have any other suggestions for substitutions or another similar chocolate cake recipe that might be a better choice for me?
    I just had a though, Debra, that if you have any artisan-style root beers in your area, they might be worth a try; you’d want one that isn’t super sweet. If you use them I’d reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup. The other possibility is our guaranteed Chocolate Cake, which is a pretty darned reliable recipe. Susan

  31. Jana

    What a lovely and yummy cake! It went over great at hubby’s cake break at work. I did notice the second day the beer taste was more strong, but still good. My only problem I missed the note about cutting the recipe in half. It was so much rich yummy cake we had to share with the neighbors. Thanks for another fab special occasion recipe.

  32. Lucia

    Does the alcohol dissipate with baking? I would like to make it for my husband’s birthday but I have two small children and would worry about serving it to them…

    Lucia: Most of the alcohol in food will dissipate once it gets above 120 degrees Farenheit; there may be traces left, but not enough to fret about. Susan

  33. ancameni

    i have made the “cake today”. But i made it into cupcakes. It yielded 4 dozen, yes 4 dozen cupcakes. I was very skeptical of the Guinness. I bought one bottle of guinness draught yesterday, ( could not remember how much i needed). After the butter was melted, it smelled so great. After it was baked, the smell reminded me of caramel, malt and chocolate.
    After I removed the cupcakes i found little droplets of butter in the pan. It makes me wonder if the butter content could be cut a little, say a few tablespoons without compromising the structure. the cupcakes baked for 24 minutes. I used a vanilla buttercream with a bit espresso added.
    I am glad i tried it.

  34. Beth

    Maybe this idea has been mentioned earlier, but what do you think would happen if I added mint chocolate chips to the batter? Do you think the mint chips would upset the balance? Thanks, Susan.

    This is just my opinion, but mint and stout are not 2 flavors that naturally come together for me. But hey, give it a try and let us know how it goes over. Have fun. Frank from KAF

  35. Corey

    Where can I purchase the green shamrocks you placed on the cake?

    Those are item 2349 in the catalog. Frank from KAF.

  36. Annette

    I made this last weekend for an Irish potluck and it was a hit! I make it in three 8″ pans and they still rose over the top. I didn’t do a great job of trimming them to lie flat so the top layer kept sliding off. I ended up putting it on a separate plate, frosting it with ganache and presenting it to my mother as a gift. Everybody wins! It was very good, but very dense. You really only want a small piece of this cake so it goes very far.

  37. Karrie

    I made this cake last weekend and WOW!!! It was divine!!! Very rich and yummy. It was loved by all. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  38. Jana

    I forgot to mention my counter top is not level it is higher in the front, we put skewers through the cake to keep the top layer from sliding off after it set we took them out. I would make this cake again but the half recipe, because it was so rich and delish.

  39. beth

    I was halfway through making the batter when I realized that my only round cake pans are 9″ across and only 1 1/2″ deep. Danger! I solved the problem by splitting the dough into three parts; the last third made a dozen cupcakes. I’m waiting for the cakes to come out of the oven right now. It smells WONDERFUL! Thanks for the great recipe and the step-by-step directions.

  40. Patty

    Wow! I made this recipe and it yielded one 9×13 sheet cake and 18 cupcakes! I frosted with the ganache, took it to work, sent out an email, and in 5 minutes – GONE! I also made a couple loaves of barmbrack – it also disappeared in that time. So far, I have had 9 recipe requests. Your site is becoming famous at work today. Thanks for the recipe and Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

  41. Staci

    This cake was fabulous! Everyone I served it to loved it. I served it with a fresh raspberry puree and fresh whipped cream to cut the sweetness a bit and it turned out great. I would love a more basic chocolate cake that has a similar texture and appearance but doesn’t have the flavor of the stout. Which of your chocolate cake recipes would have similar results? I loved the height of the 3 tall layers.
    Thanks for the recipe and great blog!

    For a tall festive chocolate cke, try this one:
    Frank from KAF.

  42. mpento

    Just brought it in to work. So far so good. I found it took quite a bit longer to bake (2x9inch) and one of my cake tins was not deep enough (I’ll cleanup tomorrow) However I found that the middle crumb turned into a cookie that I took off and ate. Any ideas on how to reduce the crunchy crumb? Thanks

    I’m not sure what you mean by “middle crumb”. It sounds like it may have baked longer than it should have; what was your criteria for testing? It’s also possible your oven isn’t up to the temperature it says it’s running at; that could be another reason the cakes took longer to bake. You can write me at and I can answer you directly…Susan

  43. nonn

    do you have any ideas for decorating this cake besides the green sprinkles if it’s not made for St patrick’s day? The frosting looks too thick to pipe (Is that right? Or does it only get that thick after spreading?)

    The frosting becomes thicker as it cools in the refrigerator so you may pipe before it is completely set. But you may also use different sprinkles to suite the occasion. Or no sprinkles-This cake will be great without additional decoration! Joan @ the bakers hotline

  44. terri

    Thank you so much for this fabulous recipe. My husband’s father had had a similiar cake in Ireland a few years ago and was wishing he could have it again for his birthday. He thought this was even better than the one he had and just loved the Ganache frosting as well.
    For the party poopers who complain about the caloric intake, as others have said go for a walk, run or do the stairmaster before or after. Life is too short to eat rice cakes on your birthday!
    Again, Mahalo for this wonderful recipe.

  45. nomadfoodie

    I made this cake in a 12-cup bundt pan. Got good reviews: very dense and rich with an excellent crumb, although a little dry by my standards – but then, I did reduce the sugar by 20%. (This was because my husband did not want to part with his Guinness, and instead offered a fizzy malt drink he’d bought instead.) The cake took about 75 mins to bake in my convection oven (since it’s convection, I reduced the temperature by 25 F). I glazed the cake with a simple ganache while the ganache was warm, using 200ml heavy cream (less than a cup) and 200g semisweet chocolate. That was more than enough ganache to glaze a bundt cake.

  46. Jonathan

    Question to Ginger:

    In one of the responses above, you mention the water activity of this particular ganache. I use similar 1:1 ganache in truffles, and have been trying to figure out what the water activity is, or how to measure it at home.


    Jonathon: short of having a calorimeter and a serious lab setup, I don’t know of any way of measuring water activity at home. I can tell you that heavy cream (depending on its fat content, which can vary) is roughly 68% water. Chocolate may have some water in it, too. The sugar in the chocolate will hold some of the water, making it unavailable to organisms that may need it to develop mold, but most truffles and chocolates I’ve made will develop a fur (mold) coat, even in the refrigerator, by the time they’re 3 or 4 weeks old. Freezing will arrest this. Susan

  47. non

    i plan to make this cake. quick question – ive seen an identical recipe except that it calls for 1 tablespoon baking soda instead of the equal amoutn of baking powder your recipe calls for. What effect would switching baking powder to soda have on this cake? thanks

    There are two considerations here…..first, baking soda produces leavening with the liquid – baking powder produces leavening with liquid and with heat so the heat of baking helps with rise. When making recipes with Dutch process cocoa, always use baking powder – not soda…..Use baking soda with natural or unsweetened cocoa. Mixing these leavenings and cocoas will result in soapy taste! Irene @ KAF

  48. matman

    Knowing I was going to visit my new born grand son for the first time, I wanted to bring a special cake for the occasion. Having a bit o’ the blarney in me, this one caught my eye. Followed the recipe exactly but cut ingredients by 1/3 for two 8″ layers. Everyone (the adults, our other grand enjoyed a Hostess cupcake) agreed it had a wonderfully unique taste. Very rich and intense, but not overly sweet. One just needs a sliver of a piece for complete satisfaction. Thanks to this recipe I’ve gone from the guy who makes cakes to the guy who knows how to make cakes.

    Thanks for thinking of us as the resource for your celebration cake. We’re most proud of your progress to a new level of expertise (almost as proud as you are with your new family addditon)! Irene @ KAF

  49. Megan

    I have a bottle of chocolate stout that would be perfect in this! So I’d like to try to make the cake as mini cupcakes rather than a cake. I noticed some people have gotten it to work out as cupcakes. I’ll just keep a close watch on the time when they’re in the oven. Do you recommend splitting them and putting ganache in the middles, or do you think just frosting the tops would be enough? I do not fear rich, chocolate-y desserts one bit!

    Hi, Megan! I think if you want to fill these bad boys as cupcakes, I’d pipe some ganache in from the bottom. I would even consider baking them in papers, cutting a slit in the bottom of the paper, a putting a small round tip in the bottom that way, giving it a squeeze. I agree, more chocolate is better, and nobody will have any idea that you’ve given them the added bonus until they take a bite! The cake is really moist and rich, and I’m not sure how a small one like a cupcake would do after splitting and reassembling. Susan

  50. WendyB

    We just made this cake for Easter this past weekend and it received rave reviews! We ended up making the full recipe and made 2 8″ layers, plus about 20 mini-muffins with the batter. I definitely the the stout more predominantly the first couple of days, it mellows a bit by day 3. Will definitely make this again for our chocolate and beer lovers.

  51. ccmoseley

    made this cake for my birthday- one bottle of Guinness in the house seemed an good sign. I made 1/2 a recipe in 3 8″ make the frosting first! It was delicious, easy and beautiful to look at.I think because the flavor is so satisfying small pieces are enough. Every life needs the occasional moment of indulgence.

    This is truly an awesome cake. Glad you agree! PJH

  52. Suzanne Baker

    I am going to make a chocolate stout cake for Saint Patrick’s Day this year to send to my husband’s 90 year old mother. I am wavering between your version and the Barrington Bakery version published in Gourmet and now posted on Epicurious. The only differences are the KA cake uses almost half a cup less sour cream and less leavening (1 T BP versus 1T baking soda, which has four times the leavening power of BP, particularly in a cake recipe that includes sour cream.) I don’t know if these comments are monitored by KA, but I would love input about the differences and the probable effect on the baked cake before I commit the time and ingredients to the project from KA or from other bakers who might have tried both cakes. LOVE KA flours and special order your pasta flour, pastry flour and whole wheat pastry flour for my projects via Amazon.

    Suzanne, yes, we monitor these comments all day long.. and into the night. We love reading your feedback! I can’t assess what the Epicurious/Gourmet version would turn out like – without actually making it, I’d hate to guess. I can say that the KA version is an incredible favorite here in the test kitchen, and around the company. It makes a super-rich, super heavy cake (in a nice way) – a little goes a long way. I don’t think you can go wrong making the KA version. – PJH

  53. Suzanne B

    I have concluded after baking my first chocolate stout cake (from Epicurious) that at least for my oven conditions it is overleavened and perhaps too wet. Which means that the KA version may be perfect for me with 1T baking powder versus 1T baking soda, (1/4 the leavening power) and a little less sour cream than in the recipe I just tried. I love it that someone from KA is at home!!! When my son was at Dartmouth, I loved to come by the headquarters. Thank you.

  54. Kate B

    I just made this for the first time and I now have a new go-to chocolate cake. Spectacular. Made 24 cupcakes AND two 5×9 loaves. It’s great even without frosting. Thanks for another amazing recipe! Happy St Patrick’s day!

  55. jse

    The layers are just beautiful. I made this today in two 9-inch pans. If the crumbs are any indication, I’m going to make my husband’s best friend a slave for life (he loves stuff like this). My plan is to ‘cut’ the intensity of the cake a bit by putting an Irish Cream butter cream in between the layers and maybe on the very top with the ganache every where else.
    A friend told me that she found some unbleached at Sam’s and I blurted that I’ll never give up my KA!

  56. jmhcr

    I made this as cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day. They were absolultely delicious — moist, perfect density, not too heavy, not too light. I used a coffee stout, loved the flavor, but if I was going for a more traditional chocolate taste, do you think you could substitute strong, brewed coffee for the stout, or would it change the texture of it? Thanks!!
    I don’t see any reason you couldn’t use coffee instead; if you do, let us know what kind of results you get. Susan

  57. Leatha

    Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose?
    Leatha – You should probably stick with all purpose flour on this one. This cake is brave and bold, or dare I say, stout? Use cake flour where it says to use cake flour. That is one not one to fool around with. Elisabeth

  58. glpruett

    Oh, my–what a FANTASTIC cake!!! I read the blog entry when it was posted around St. Patrick’s Day this year, and knew that I wanted to make it as soon as I had friends here to help eat it! I made it last Thursday, as we had friends visiting over the weekend, and it was a BIG hit with all of us! The other commentors are right, though–you need to serve this in VERY thin slices, as it is super rich. I am as concerned about nutrition as anyone, and perhaps more than most, but I say, “Celebration is an important part of life!” And now I have my go-to recipe for any occassion that calls for a celebratory chocolate cake. I made the “smaller version” listed under “Tips from our bakers”, primarily because I had a 12-oz. bottle of Guinness. I did make three-quarters of the recipe for the chocolate ganache, and I am ever so glad that I did. Thank you so much for yet another super recipe that I have added to my own “favorites” list!!!

  59. intrigue0418

    ok so had no sour cream. so used 8 oz of cream cheese instead. came out so delicious will have to try with sour cream but this is rich and oh so good!! KAF seems to have the best recipes! Thanks again for tasty hard to resist desserts!

  60. ArielS

    I’ve made this cake before and loved it! I’m planning on making it again, but I need to travel and contain it a bit, so I was thinking of baking it in a loaf pan. Should I just use the half recipe and increase baking time?
    HI Ariel,
    This cake recipe is so very large, that even a half recipe is probably a bit too big for a single loaf pan. If you want to give it a try though, make the half recipe and fill the pan only half full, then bake the rest of the batter as cupcakes. Hope this helps. ~ MaryJane

  61. Bronzino

    Howdy! I’ve made this cake in layers and loved it.

    But now I want to make this in a 9 x 13 sheet pan. Do I use the ‘smaller’ recipe or the usual recipe?

    Definitely use the smaller recipe – and don’t overfill the pan; the batter should come no more than 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up the sides, OK? Enjoy – PJH

  62. Mark Johannes

    I do all my baking by weight. In the above formula the amount of sugar is stated at one pound (American) or 340 Grams (Metric). That metric weight is the equivalent of only 12 ounces. I didn’t notice the discrepancy until I was preparing to make this cake.

    By the way the volume measurement, 4 Cups, when weighed is one pound or 16 ounces or 454 Grams so I will presume 454 grams would be the correct amount. I’ll post again to report how 454 grams works.

    1. PJ Hamel

      Sorry for the confusion, Mark – the amount read “1 pound, 340g” – which meant 1 pound + 340g. I’ve changed it to read 794g, which is the correct amount of sugar. I hope your cake tastes OK… PJH

  63. Xiaolu (6 Bittersweets)

    I just want to point out that the steps in this post actually say baking SODA and not baking POWDER whereas your recipe on the other page says baking POWDER only. Based on the comments here, I’m guessing baking powder is what was intended. I would recommend correcting the directions here: “So far I like it a lot, mostly for the shape of the “sled,” where the ingredients go. I was able to fit 4 cups of flour and 4 cups of sugar into it, as well as the salt and BAKING SODA in the recipe.”

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I can’t believe this recipe/blog has been published since 2010 and no one caught this error. Thanks to your sharp editing, the correction has been made for all future cake bakers! Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  64. Larry

    I’ve baked most of my life and this cake is always one that everyone truly does enjoy. I bake this
    cake along with others for an auction to raise money for local charities. This particular cake always
    brings bids of $50+ dollars. One thing I do use is chocolate stout ale which just adds to the taste of
    the cake. I make this both as a layer cake for some and a bundt cake for others. Either one it is
    a great cake. Heavy on the calories, no doubt. Don’t eat a large piece and share with friends and
    neighbors. They will always speak well of you.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I have made this also, Larry but have not been brave enough to make it as high as it should be. I need to find a crowd who will eat it first! Elisabeth@KAF

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      I have made this also, Larry but have not been brave enough to make it as high as it should be. I need to find a crowd who will eat it first! Elisabeth@KAF

  65. Vanessa

    What changes would I need to make to make this recipe with normal cocoa? My grocery store doesn’t have Dutch process. I read in another response to use baking sodainstead, but would the amount be the same?

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Vanessa,
      Here’s the rule of thumb substitute for swapping out natural cocoa for Dutched:

      Substitute 3 Tablespoons natural cocoa plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda for every 3 tablespoons of Dutch Cocoa.

      Happy baking! ~ MJ

  66. Chris

    Hey thanks for sharing this baking procedure of chocolate stout cake. I would like to bake it for my Sister’s Wedding anniversary.
    – Alcohol Delivery Singapore

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the blog and I hope everyone enjoys this delicious treat at the wedding! Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  67. adawnd69

    Will this cake hold up to a buttercream frosting? I have made it with the ganache and love it, but I have a friend that wants this cake but buttercream frosting. Thank you!

    1. PJ Hamel

      Yes, feel free to use buttercream frosting. You’ll need to keep it cool to prevent melting; or make it partially with vegetable shortening, to stabilize, but other than that it should be fine. Enjoy! PJH

  68. "Baking since childhood"

    I am not a fan of any kind of beer, including stout. Would this work with hard apple cider? If so, what other changes should be made to the recipe?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t tried it with anything but stout. Let us know how the cider works if you give it a try! Jon@KAF

  69. deb defrancesco

    Not sure what I could have done to this recipe – the cake I baked had a hard/crusty exterior with a dry/tasteless interior. I consider myself a pretty good baker (recipe follower) and can’t figure what might have gone wrong. Did not even remotely look like the picture and I did not waste the frosting on it.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Deb, we’re sorry to hear that this cake did not stand up your chocolate-cake expectations. If you are feeling persistent and would like to give this recipe another go, here are a few things to amp up the flavor profile of this cake. Try looking for Young’s Double Chocolate Stout in a grocery store around you; it’s our favorite beer to use in baking and it has a strong coffee and chocolate undertone. Also, if you are a serious chocolate lover and you are ready for an intense flavor, try replacing the Dutch-cocoa with Black Cocoa. The dark, earthy flavor of cocoa compliments the stout perfectly.

      As for the crusty exterior, you can try baking this cake at 325 degrees and extending the baking time by 5 minutes. Be sure not to over bake this cake; as soon as a knife or tooth-pick comes out clean, get your beauty of a cake out of the oven if you want it to stay tender! Mix the wet and dry ingredients just until mixed and get it right into the oven. We’ve had the best success baking this cake in shallow pans (like the 9″ x 13″ pans). We hope you consider making these changes if you attempt another of our chocolate cakes again. –Kye@KAF

  70. Roman Fonseca

    As a non American baker, I’m not familiar with the term ‘Dutch cocoa’. Is that a brand name ?

    What do you mean by natural cocoa ? I apologize, all these names are confusing to me

    How can I tell cocoa powder is alcaline or not ? Any home lab test ?

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Roman,
      We have another great post that I think will really help you out. It’s called The A-B-C’s of Cocoa, and it explains all the different types, and how best to use them. I hope you find it helpful. ~ MJ

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