Dark, rich beers are a match made in Heaven for spiced, nutty cakes – if you haven’t tried any kind of combo along these lines yet then you’ve really got to do it. Anchor Porter is one of my favourite – if not the favourite – Porters out there. Everything is just so balanced; so smooth, so creamy, so roasted and sweet at the same time. I was agonizing over finding some kind of obscure British Porter to use for this cake, with Anchor as a backup, but a quick accidental chat with Zak last month banished my doubt. ‘Why not just use Anchor?’ he suggested. ‘It’s pretty much the best one out there’.
And he was right. In fact, Anchor Porter was the first beer ever mentioned on this blog; way back in early 2007. Lesson learned; don’t take your go-to beers and ‘all time greats‘ for granted – they’re still there, like reliable old friends. Tasty reliable old friends.
So – onto the cake.
In a large Pan, put 175g of Butter, 400g of Mixed dried Fruit, the juice of one whole Orange (along with the grated zest), 175g of Muscovado Sugar, and half a bottle of your Porter. Turn on the heat, and, stirring, bring it to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often to get that sugar dissolved. You can also take a couple of swigs of leftover porter at this stage, enjoying how great your kitchen smells with all these flavours cooking up.
After 15 minutes or so, allow it to cool for ten minutes. Then, stir in 1 tsp of Bicarbonate of Soda. Note – it will foam up at this points, but don’t worry. This is what’s supposed to happen.
Into a large mixing bowl put 300g of Plain flour and 50g of chopped nuts – I used Hazelnuts but Pecans or Walnuts – or all three – would be fine. Add a couple of pinches of Cinnamon. Pour your mixture into the dry mixture and stir well. Finally, add 3 beaten eggs and stir thoroughly.
Heat your oven to 150c and line and grease your baking tin. Pour the mixture into the tin and sprinkle more Muscovado sugar on top. When the oven is ready, cook for about 90 minutes – checking after an hour or so for doneness with a skewer If it comes out clean in the middle, then it’s done.
Now, although I defy you to not slice a bit off and enjoy it warm with a glass of Porter, I would then leave it to cool and then seal up in a cake tin for at least three days. The difference is awesome – it just gets boozier, stickier and denser. Great stuff as the nights draw in and that central heating gets turned on for the first time in months.
You can enjoy it for days, and if you want to pair it with other Porters, you can. Fuller’s London Porter remains an absolute class act – my no #2 Favourite Porter. The body is amazing; massively, massively complex ; it starts off all Espresso coffee and rounded red fruit, then changing mid-gulp to a sweet, creamy finish with hints of smoke. The nose is chocolate rounded off with ever-so-slight Phenolic notes that are entirely desirable in a beer like this. Hunt it out if you’ve never had it (are there any of you out there) – and if you find it on cask, prepare for more than one pint.
Kernel’s Porter is also absolutely delicious, and probably one of the best beers I’ve tasted this year, to be honest – a masterclass in Malt. You can read the tasting notes for that here.