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Barkeep, there's beer in my cake

Cake eaters divide neatly into those who do and do not like spice cake. If I were to further generalize about those in the latter camp, I'd say they're not fans of the clove-nutmeg-allspice-cinnamon consortium. Two more strikes against the genre: Spice cakes can bake up dry, and are often paired with overly sweet cream cheese frostings.

The mixed nuts atop Honey Spice Beer Cake have a barroom flair. (Daniel Kukla)

Enough negative waves.

Honey Spice Beer Cake: Those four words make a delightful foursome, don't they? Together they stand for a recipe in the new "Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked With Spirits, Wine and Beer," by Krystina Castella and Terry Lee Stone (Quirk; $16.95). Honey beer factors in the cake and frosting; remarkably, neither of are too sweet. Tasters in the newsroom could not really place the beer in the cake, but the tang of it in the frosting was pronounced -- not in a bad way, even so. And the combination/load of spice is just right.

Bottom line: Try, it you'll like it. We did. It's easy to make. The unfrosted cake would freeze well.

-- Bonnie S. Benwick

Honey Spice Beer Cake
12 servings

The ancient Egyptians used yeast to make the first cakes sweetened with honey and they drank beer, but they didn't think to combine beer and cake to make one of humanity's greatest inventions: beer cake.

For this recipe, we used Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss beer, brewed in Wisconsin. It is available at Total Wine & More in McLean.

Adapted from "Booze Cakes," by Krystina Castella and Terry Lee Stone (Quirk 2010).

For the cake
3 3/4 cups flour, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups honey
Freshly squeezed juice and grated zest of 1 lemon (3 to 4 tablespoons juice and 2 teaspoons' zest)
1 1/2 cups (12-ounce bottle) honey beer (see headnote)

For the frosting
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup honey beer
2 tablespoons honey
1 to 1 1/2 cups roasted unsalted mixed nuts, for garnish

For the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease the inside of 9-by-13-inch baking pan, then dust lightly with flour to coat evenly, shaking out any excess. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a mixing bowl.

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the honey, lemon juice and zest; mix well.

Add the flour mixture and the beer in 3 alternating additions. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool (in the pan).

For the frosting: Combine the butter and one-third of the confectioner's sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on low speed to incorporate, then add the beer and the remaining sugar in alternating sets of additions; beat on medium speed to form a smooth and creamy frosting. Add the honey and mix to incorporate.

When the cake has cooled, spread the top of the cake with a generous amount of the frosting (you may use two-thirds of it or all of it. Scatter the nuts (as needed) evenly across the top of the cake. Let them set for a few minutes before cutting into it into squares.

Per serving (using two-thirds of the frosting): 630 calories, 7 g protein, 121 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 360 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 88 g sugar

By The Food Section  |  July 15, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Beer , Books , Recipes  | Tags: Bonnie S. Benwick, beer, books, recipes  
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