Is anyone else absolutely obsessed with watching cake decorating videos on Instagram? They are literally HYPNOTIZING and very good at convincing you that yeah, you can totally make a huge four layer cake with icing succulents. No problem at all.
Well, I didn’t try to get that extravagant with this cake. But it was my first drip cake. I was approached by someone who needed a cake within 3 days as their previous baker was no longer able to fulfill the order, and they asked if I was up for the task. Of course I was. Pie Girl can definitely Cake.
They gave me the photo and description and I was off to the races. As you all know, I am a strong believer in stout chocolate cake being the best there is, so with that as my base, I did some research on caramel icing and determined I would make a double batch of my trusty Four and Twenty Blackbirds salted caramel sauce.
When it came to assembly, it wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated – I have a rotating cheese platter that is extremely handy for icing cakes and when paired with a bench scraper, I’m basically an Instagram cake decorator. Next time, I may stick with a squirt bottle for the caramel drizzle instead of a spoon, but the spoon worked in a pinch.
The only issue with baking a cake for someone else? You can’t try the end product (obvi I tasted all the components, but you gotta taste your hard work!)
Since there are three components to this cake, I’ve organized the recipe by component. I recommend starting by making the caramel sauce to allow it time to cool while you make the cake and icing. You can start making the cake while the caramel simmers, and make the icing when the cake is baking. Once the cake layers and caramel sauce are cool, you can assemble!
PS – Apologies for the lack of progress photos, they all ended up on my Insta story and I got too into the ~baking process~ 😉
Caramel Sauce Ingredients (this will make enough for the drizzle, the icing, as well as a good sized jar of leftovers)
- 2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Large pinch of sea salt
Caramel Sauce Steps
In a saucepan, whisk sugar and water and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, whisking occasionally. Add butter and bring to a slow boil, cooking continuously until caramel turns dark golden brown. Remove from the heat and slowly add cream (be careful with the steam). Whisk together and stir in salt. Pour into a bowl, allowing to cool.
Cake Ingredients (makes three 9-inch cake layers)
- 2 cups Guinness
- 2 cups butter
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups sour cream
- Prep cake pans by coating them in butter, then sprinkling on flour and tapping off the excess. Set aside.
- Bring butter and Guinness just to a simmer over medium heat, then remove from heat and whisk in cocoa until no lumps are left. Allow to cool slightly.
- Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl (preferably stand mixer with a paddle attachment), mix eggs, sour cream and vanilla until combined. Then, mix in Guinness mixture until smooth.
- Fold flour mixture into Guinness mixture with a spatula until smooth and little to no lumps remain.
- Evenly divide batter between 3 prepared cake pans
- Bake at 350F for 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and allow to cool completely on a rack before icing.
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce, or to taste (see recipe above)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Large pinch of sea salt
- Heavy cream (if needed, for texture purposes)
- Beat butter in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until creamy. Add icing sugar one cup at a time, until incorporated and smooth.
- Add caramel sauce, vanilla and salt and beat until combined and creamy.
- Taste the icing at this point to test for texture and flavour. Add more sugar, caramel, vanilla or salt as needed. If the icing is too thick or not creamy enough, add heavy cream one teaspoon at a time.
- Take whatever you’re serving your cake on and smear a spoonful of icing on the surface. Place a cooled cake layer on the icing as it ensures it will stay secure.
- Spread 1 cup of icing on top of the first cake layer and top with the second cake layer. Repeat with icing and the final cake layer until assembled.
- Spread remaining icing all over cake until covered. To smooth out the icing, run a bench scraper all around the sides and smooth the top with an offset spatula.
- Using a spoon or squirt bottle, drizzle caramel sauce around and down the edge of the cake (the caramel sauce should be runny enough to drizzle, if not, microwave for a few seconds until it is). Drizzle all around the top of the cake and gently spread with a spoon or offset spatula until the top of the cake is covered in a thin layer of caramel sauce.
- Sprinkle the finished cake with flaky sea salt and serve!
Caramel sauce adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds, cake recipe adapted from Epicurious