Peanut Butter & Brownstone Ale Cake
Friday marked the birthday of brewer Pete, and we managed to surprise him by baking this cake right under his nose. (Or over it, as the new kitchen is directly above the brewery.) I was looking around for chocolate that morning, maybe some leftover bars from a visit by the Mast Brothers. I thought some dark chocolate would go well with a stout-flavored cake, or perhaps one with peanut butter. Or both? But when none turned up, and the only dark beer on tap that day was Sixpoint’s Brownstone Ale, it was a brown ale and peanut butter cake instead.
This was serendipitous, because peanut butter and brown ale go together amazingly, it turns out. The Brownstone, which has been brewed at Sixpoint for almost all its seven years, is so roasty and chocolately on its own. It has a slight hop bitterness, but none less appealing in a dessert than that of bittersweet cocoa. With peanut butter, it becomes nutty and rounder, and the effervescence of the beer helps leaven the cake. It’s definitely a new classic combo, over here.
The cake batter incorporates both peanut butter and the ale. And since the peanut butter was so present in it, I made a buttercream frosting of just butter, powdered sugar, and a few drops of ultra-condensed Brownstone syrup.
It was the icing on the cake, you could say. The recipe, which was partly cobbled together from online recipes for stout cake, but mostly improvised using Brownstone (especially in the frosting), is below. A cake to celebrate, birthdays or not.
1 stick and 2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup Sixpoint Brownstone Ale (or another brown ale, or a stout)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
for the frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
about 1 – 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 cups Brownstone Ale, reduced to about 1 tablespoon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, bring the beer for the cake to a boil and add the 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter. Heat until melted through. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add a small splash of the warm beer and butter mixture to the eggs while whisking. Continue adding gradually, while whisking, until incorporated. Gradually add the flour mixture next, a small amount at a time to prevent lumps. Beat until fluffy and light. Pour mixture into two greased, round, 8″ baking pans. Bake about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let cool at least 20 minutes before adding the frosting.
To make the frosting, boil the 2 cups of beer into a thick syrup of about 1 tablespoon. Cut the softened butter into small squares and gradually whisk in the confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle this into the mixture as you beat to add more moisture as you go along. It will stain it a nice tan color.
Carefully remove one cake from the pan (the flatter one, if there is one), by placing a plate on top of it and flipping it over. Loosen the edges around the cake with a butter knife first to help it drop out. Spread a layer of frosting on the (flat) top of this cake. Then invert the second cake onto a plate, also upside-down, and place it flat side-down on top of the frostinged first cake. Spread frosting all over the surface of the cake, and enjoy.