My dashing carpenter loves two things (things being inanimate objects and not me): wood and Guiness.
He has an uncanny ability to find old wood and old wooden fixtures and add them to his collection. I imagine his ideal day would be: sleep in peace, wake up slowly, drink a strong mug of percolated coffee whilst listening to a flea market record find and reading the NY Times. Face the day. Go to the flea market. Find many treasures and bargain them below their already cheap prices. Spot a pile of scrapped lumber on the drive home. Rescue the scrapped lumber. Return home. Eat a pot pie baked by the lovely lady friend. Eat a dessert by the lovely lady friend. Drink a Guinness (by “a,” I mean several, well poured Guinness) while lady friend sips on one alcoholic beverage for hours. Watch Curb Your Enthusiasm.
In the baking world (especially in the francophile baking world), the Buche de Noel is a rite of passage. At some point, you just have to don an apron in the pursuit of a Christmas yule log and warm the hearth through the stomach. It only made sense to make this wood inspired cake for someone who would really appreciate it: the dashing carpenter! Since I had decided he would be the recipient of my Buche de Noel effort, I went one step further- a Buche de Guinness- to combine in his two [inanimate] loves in one delicious dessert present.
How does a carpenter cut himself a slice of cake?
Usually with a knife just like the rest of us.
Merry Christmas Carpenter!
The Recipe: Buche de Guinness
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons salted Irish butter (so very bright yellow in its color!)
2-1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs pure cane sugar
1/2 cup local wildflower honey
3 ounces unsweetened Baker’s chocolate, melted
1 Tbs organic vanilla extract
1 cup Guinness, flat
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9-inch cake pans with the 2 tablespoons butter and dust with 1/4 cup of flour. Shake out and discard any excess flour, and set the pans aside.
Mix together the remaining 2-1/4 cups flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Beat the egg whites with 2 tablespoons of the sugar until stiff peaks begin to form.
With an electric mixer, cream together the remaining sugar with the 3/4 cup butter until light in texture.
One at a time, beat in the egg yolks.
Add the honey and mix to incorporate.
Stir in the melted chocolate, the Guinness, and then gradually beat in the flour mixture.
With a rubber spatula, fold in the egg whites.
Scrape half the batter into each of the cake pans, and bake in the middle of the oven 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove the pans from the oven and let the cakes cool while you prepare the frosting.
*Note: Since the beer and the rising agents make for a springier cake than a typical Buche de Noel recipe, I went about the assembly in a more sculptural fashion as opposed to the typical roll-up process.
For the Icing
Chocolate Chip and Guinness Cake Frosting
1 pound semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons salted butter
5 tablespoons Guinness
5 tablespoons milk
Soften the chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler.
Remove from the heat.
Using an electric beater, beat the chocolate and butter until smooth, about 1 minute.
Beat in the Guinness and milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is soft and shiny.