I just adore a weekend with no plans that suddenly turns into a weekend of fun. Being invited to a last minute barbecue is the perfect excuse for me to grab a recipe book and try out something new, so when our lovely friend Rob invited us to one at his parent's house last Saturday I knew some baking was in order.
I picked out several books that I've not baked from yet (serial baking book buyer here) and went to sit with Pete and Cleo to decide what to go for. As I flicked through very ladylike volumes such as Miette Bakery Cookbook, Tea with Bea and The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook I asked Pete to give The Butch Bakery Cookbook a browse as I knew he'd love it.
I adore this book as it's so different from the usual twee cupcake offerings. It pitches itself as being a book of 'desserts for dudes' and really doesn't disappoint with its booze, coffee or bacon fuelled concoctions to name just a few flavours that they utilise. They also decorate a lot of their cakes with chocolate discs in masculine prints like camouflage or argyle or with 'sawdust' sprinkles made from things like lime zest sugar or finely chopped crystallised ginger. No longer are cupcakes just for girls!
They are also man sized - the recipes make 12 'jumbo muffin' sized cupcakes which are much larger than standard, so I used some tulip muffin cases as they are a good size and I thought they were pretty manly looking. You will need to stock up on muffin sized cases and a muffin tin rather than fairy cake tin if you want to cook from this book.
Pete picked out three recipes in particular that caught his eye, the first being ' Rush Hour' a stout and gingerbread cake with ginger frosting, 'Old Fashioned' based on his favourite whiskey beverage and 'Beer Run', a stout and chocolate cake topped with vanilla stour buttercream and chocolate covered pretzel bits. I wasn't in a ginger mood that day, so opted for the Beer Run which was very appropriate as Rob's Dad is a real ale drinker.
The cake itself was made using the melting method often used in brownies where you melt the butter rather than creaming it with the sugar. This gives a much moister and tender crumbed cake, although it doesn't tend to rise into a dome like traditional cupcake recipes do. This makes no difference when it comes to cupcakes in my opinion as you'll be adding generous amounts of frosting and decoration anyway.
The buttercream was a traditional butter and icing sugar mix with vanilla and stout to flavour it, and as I couldn't get chocolate pretzels I used crushed salted ones and a drizzle of melted milk chocolate to finish which I think looked fab. Rather than the obvious Guinness I opted to use the stout below which I got at my local Tesco - can you guess why I bought it? I really am a sucker for a pretty label or anything with a pin up on!
All together these were a magnificent treat. The super moist cake with its rich cocoa flavour and hoppy twang from the beer offset the sweet frosting perfectly and the added salty crunch of the topping was great. They also looked pretty damn good in their dark cases with camel coloured frosting and sprinkling of woody pretzel bits and chocolate drizzle. Everyone at the barbecue loved them and hey, isn't that what a hostess gift is all about?
I seriously suggest you make the man in your life something from this book, it's worth the effort just seeing his face light up at the words 'beer cake'!