One of my favourite breweries here in Italy is Mastri Birrai Umbri. They currently do three beers, one of which is Cotta 74, a doppio malto scura – a dark double-malt beer. A “birra doppio malto” is an Italian legal classification but this specific beer is made with a well-roasted malt as is not unlike a porter or stout. It’s got a warm, deep flavour, with a slight burnt caramel taste and hints of chocolate. So, thought I, why not try and use it in a chocolate cake recipe?
Mastri Birrai Umbri’s beers, developed by master brewer Michele Sensidoni, also all use a unique ingredient, something distinctly Umbrian. In the case of Cotta 74, that ingredient is lentils, which are a traditional crop in Umbria. I believe they give the beer a slight nuttiness and earthiness. Also good for a chocolate cake, thunk I.
Anyway, available here is a recipe for a chocolate cake made with Guinness. It’s a Nigella Lawson recipe. I never had good results from her cake recipes, I found them unpredicable and unreliable. And nor do I like Guinness (it’s tastes too much like iron and mud, it’s too creamy). But the recipe proved a good foundation for a cake made with Cotta 74.
Of course this is a versatile recipe, so use whatever stout or porter you have to hand. Though I would recommend something good quality from a small brewery. Large scale industrial beer is never as nice.
(Note – I do liquids in grams. It’s more accurate, and perfectly easy if you’re using bowls and electronic scales. If you’re unconvinced, just use the liquid measures in ml.)
250g scura doppio malto, stout or porter
250g unsalted butter
340g caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
270g plain flour
1.5 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking power
Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease and line a 23cm tin. (Springform is easier but not essential.)
In a pan, melt the butter in the beer.
Pour into a large mixing bowl.
Beat the cocoa and sugar into the beer/butter mix.
Allow this mixture to cool slightly.
Beat together the mascarpone, yogurt, eggs and vanilla essence.
When the main mix is cool enough, beat in the mascarpone mixture. (If it’s too hot, you’ll scramble the egg content.)
Sieve together the flour and raising agents.
Add this to the mixture and beat well.
Pour the mixture into the tin.
Bake for around 1 around, until it’s well risen and no longer too wobbly.
Leave to cool completely in the tin, on a wire rack.
Make a topping with
150g icing sugar
Sieve the icing sugar into the mascarpone and mix.
If it’s too sloppy, add more sieved icing sugar.