Today, let’s discuss cake and beer!
Lambic is a style of Belgian beer that uses spontaneous fermentation and wild yeasts, as opposed to carefully cultivated varieties. It’s a feral monster, and usually quite tart. What most people are familiar with, if they’re familiar with lambic at all, is the fruity stuff I’m using here. It comes in varieties like cherry, apple, peach, and (jazz hands) raspberry. Flavored or unflavored, Belgian sours have my heart always and forever.
Fruity beer won’t endear you to the neighborhood beer snob, but this stuff is undoubtedly pleasant to drink. What you get with raspberry lambic is tart, crisp, pure fruit flavors.
So what can you do with an entire 750-ml bottle?
1. Get fancy-drunk by yourself or fancy-tipsy with a friend. Flute glasses are optional.
2. Make some unbelievable brunch drinks. Pineapple juice + peach lambic! Cherry lambic + limeade! Pear nectar and apple lambic, with a sprig of mint perhaps? If I were smarter, I’d flesh each of these out to a post BUT HEY. My natural gifts are pretty much limited to being able to help old people get stuff from the top shelf at Rite Aid. I’m working with what I got here.
3. Put it–all of it–into a cake. A delightful, not too sweet, lightly fruity, raspberry-studded (if you want) cake.
One of the many things I love about this is the texture: light, moist, and fluffy. This recipe is based on a champagne cake I made a while back, and both versions came out winners. It’s not surprising–carbonation gives lift to boost whatever your standard leavener is already doing. Plus, you get some lovely flavor–a full pint of the stuff cannot be ignored.
A word of caution: the batter, when you’re incorporating wet and dry ingredients, might curdle a bit, but rest assured–once you quickly add the flour and get that mixed in, it’ll work itself out.
The cake itself comes out a mauve/pink/purple color, which I like, but food coloring is always an option. Beet juice for the au naturale crowd (I haven’t tried it, so be gentle with your feedback, you beautiful hippies).
The frosting is also somewhat strange a premise, and believe me, I’m aware that I’m telling you to cook beer and flour together into a paste to get it started. Trust me, it works! It’s also the only way I can think of to incorporate a respectable amount of beer without dumping five bags of powdered sugar into the mix.
The candied pistachios are just here for a good time. I realize it takes a little work, but feel free to use whatever makes you happy: mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, pretzel crumbs, or perhaps crushed Oreos or those Girl Scout cookies you passively aggressively stole from your coworker (I won’t tell, but save ’em a slice, maybe).
Alternatively, you could leave the cake naked, which is a popular thing now. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. Please tell me how to feel about it. Even for a more-cake-less-frosting type of eater (hi), it seems a little … dry? Then again, I love decorating with fresh flowers, fruit, and herbs. The indecision struggle is real.
The good news is that I am 100% decided on this whole thing.
Beer. Cake. Fruit. Nuts. Good.
You=also good. Happy (long, for some of us) weekend!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 egg whites, room temperature
- 2 cups raspberry lambic beer, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups raspberry lambic beer (conveniently enough, this is approximately the rest of a 750 ml bottle, so you'd need one of those total, for cake+frosting)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar (superfine, if you have it--if not, no big deal)
- About a cup fresh raspberries, for scattering between the layers and decorating (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper as well, dust with flour, tap to shake out the excess.
- In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar 3-5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in egg whites one at a time.
- Beat in flour mixture and lambic beer in three alternating additions, starting and ending with flour to prevent curdling. (It might curdle a little anyway at first, but should go away once you add the flour.) Pour batter into pans and bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Start checking cake for doneness around the 30-minute mark, and remove from oven as soon as the toothpick comes out clean.) Let cool for a few minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool fully before frosting.
- In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the beer with the flour. Whisk until smooth, then place the mixture on the stove over medium heat and slowly add the rest of the beer, whisking constantly until it starts to steam and barely simmer. Reduce the heat to low and keep whisking until slightly thickened, then remove from heat. Keep whisking for another minute or so. Refrigerate for a few minutes to bring the mixture to room temperature, then pass it through a strainer to remove any flour lumps. Set aside.
- Cream the butter on medium speed with an electric mixer until soft, 30 seconds or so, then add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy, 5-7 minutes.
- Lower mixer speed to low and slowly pour in the beer and flour mixture. Go back to medium speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- On the stovetop in a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Cook over medium-high heat until the water dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. When the mixture is thick, bubbly and golden brown, remove the pan from the heat and add pistachios. Stir well to coat, then add the butter, stirring well once again until the butter melts. Spread the nuts on a large, lightly oiled cookie sheet, flattening with a spatula to spread them out somewhat thinly. Cool completely, then break into chunks and chop coarsely.
- You may choose to slice the cake layers horizontally in half, or stick with two. I split mine and will warn you--I had barely enough frosting, so if you want a four-layer cake AND to decorate with piping, you might want to scale up the frosting. As you can see, I went a little skimpy on the outside.
- In any case, frost in between layers, scatter fresh raspberries over the frosting if you'd like, top with remaining layer(s) and repeat. Frost the outside and coat it (or the top, if you'd rather do that) with chopped candied nuts. Decorate the rest as your heart desires!