Ladies and gentlemen, are your bellies ready to rumble? It's time for Foodie Fights!
Those of you who were around last fall might remember my first foray into the world of Foodie Fights, a competition in which a handful of brave bloggers go head-to-head to see who can create the most interesting dish using two key ingredients. The first time around, my Bulghur Shortcakes w/ Pumpkin Preserves came out on top, which means I'm under pressure to keep the winning streak going with this latest challenge: Battle Apple and Beer.
Since apple and beer are both ingredients that I tend to associate with fall dishes like slow-braised stews or roasts, figuring out what I could comfortably make on a hot July weekend was a challenge in and of itself. According to the weather forecast, it actually felt like 40C with humidity on Saturday, and as much as I adore braised dishes, just contemplating the idea a piping-hot bowl of stew was enough to make me wilt.
So, that's how I ended up here, with this wonderfully golden apple-and-beer flavoured Bundt cake smothered in a sticky dulce de leche glaze.
Because if I was going to turn on the oven on the muggiest, hottest, stickiest day we've had in years, I was darn well going to get some cake out of the deal.
I know that beer sounds like a rather strange thing to add to a cake, but apparently it's not all that uncommon. As a matter of fact, I stumbled over several recipes for beer cake while poking around the internet for inspiration - gingerbread cakes, honey-spice cakes, carrot cakes, heck... even chocolate cake. Funnier yet, just hours after I'd finished this challenge and taken my first ever bite of beer cake, we went to a friend's house for a backyard birthday party and the dessert turned out to be a Beer Sticky Toffee Cake with a Stout Skor Bar Ice Cream. Clearly, beer cakes are destined to be the next big dessert trend... better watch your back, cupcakes!
As the jumping-off point for my beer and apple cake, I decided to use a Portuguese recipe for bolo de cerveja, which literally means "beer cake" (yeah, I know... creative name, isn't it?). As the rather unimaginative name might suggest, the original is a very straightforward sort of cake made with eggs, sugar, butter, flour... and beer.
My version keeps the original's poundcake-like texture, with a dense, not-too-sweet crumb, and adds a scattering of finely diced apple chunks and toasted pecans. I also added a little cinnamon and lemon zest, but used a light hand on the flavourings to let the sweet maltiness of the beer shine through... though you'll find that the flavour is nowhere near as "beery" as you might expect, considering a whole cup of full-flavoured stout is added to the batter. I also decided to add a creamy dulce de leche icing as the crowning touch, because what's an apple dessert without a little caramel?
If you think my Apple-Beer Bundt Cake deserves to win this round of Foodie Fights, please vote for me on their website! You can also check out what my competition came up with while you're there and decide whose recipe will reign supreme.
- 2 cups sugar
- ¾ cup butter
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 cup Guiness (or any other dark, flavourful beer)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely diced
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup dulce de leche
- 1 tbsp Guiness (or any other dark, flavourful beer)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Generously butter a 10-inch Bundt pan, then dust with flour, tapping to remove any excess.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in beer and vanilla extract, mixing until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt. Add to the wet ingredients, and stir until the mixture just comes together. Fold in the apples and pecans.
- In a third bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. Using a spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter until just barely blended, working carefully so as not to deflate the mixture. Scrape the mixture into the prepared Bundt pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
- Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the cake springs back to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before gently turning out onto a rack to finish cooling completely.
- While the cake is cooling, prepare the icing by whisking together the icing sugar, dulce de leche and beer until smooth. Set aside.
- Once the cake is cooled to room temperature, move it to a pretty serving plate and slowly pour the icing onto the top, letting some run down the sides and middle of the cake. Let stand for half an hour before serving to allow the icing to set.