Hello, I’m Clementine the baker cat. Did you know that tomorrow (07th August) is International Beer Day? It is a celebration on the first Friday of every August. It was founded in 2007 in California, but soon it has become a worldwide celebration spanning 207 cities, 50 countries and 6 continents. It is a day to express gratitude to brewers and beer sellers and to get together with friends and enjoy the taste of beer.
Yesterday, all my friends were talking about gathering at the back of our favourite pub The Black Cat and buying each other drinks to celebrate the day. The problem is I don’t drink beer, I don’t like it because it’s too bitter. As much as I want to join the celebration, I don’t want to feel like I’m odd one out.
Later, I visited Tipsy, a cat who lives in the pub, to seek advice. I sat on a high stool at the bar counter where Tipsy was lazily sipping beer from a pint glass. He offered me some but I politely declined.
“Listen, Clementine,” said Tipsy in a calm, slow voice. “A customer once told me ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.'”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Tipsy,” I said. “I’m not worrying about the weather. I’m worrying about beer!”
Tipsy continued, “Another customer said, ‘Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.'”
“I’m so confused!” I wasn’t quite sure if Tipsy was being very wise or just plain drunk and talking nonsense.
Tipsy chuckled, “What I meant is that if you believe it won’t work out, you will see obstacles, but if you believe it will, you’ll see opportunities.”
Then, it hit me. “Oh, I see!’ I cried. ‘I don’t have to drink beer. I can bake it into delicious cake!”
Tipsy smiled and nodded, then took me to the back of the pub and gave me a bottle of Guinness from a crate sitting outside. “Go and bake something yummy!” he said, then popped open another bottle of Guinness with his craw.
Back in my kitchen, I baked Black Velvet Cupcakes – dark and naughty version of red velvet cupcakes. They are basically chocolate cupcakes, but the chocolate flavour is intensified and matured by the Guinness added to the batter. The sponge is so moist and moreish. Don’t worry, you can’t taste the beer. It just brings extra ‘oomph’. And the cupcakes are generously frosted with silky cream cheese frosting flavoured with Bailey’s Irish cream. Sorry, kids. These cupcakes are for grown-ups!
I’m so looking forward to celebrating the International Beer Day with friends tomorrow. Hope they will enjoy my Black Velvet Cupcakes (well, who wouldn’t?) as well as a pint of beer. Happy Beer Day to everyone! Drink sensibly!
If you’re vegan, do not despair. You can try vegan version of Black Velvet.
BLACK VELVET CUPCAKES
Slightly adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days – Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe
Makes 18 large cupcakes (∅5cm)
250g unsalted butter
80g cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
300g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
280g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
(FOR THE FROSTING)
140g unsalted butter
140g full-fat cream cheese
600g icing sugar
2 tbsp Irish cream liqueur such as Bailey’s
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.* Line 2 x 12-hole muffin tins with muffin cases.
- Gently heat the Guinness and butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder and sugar, and mix until the sugar has dissolved.
- Mix together the eggs, vanilla extract and buttermilk in a jug or bowl, and then add this to the chocolate mixture, constantly string.
- Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder in a separate bowl. Sift into the wet mixture in 2-3 parts, and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overmix.
- Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cases until ⅔ full. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a stick poked into middle comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth and add the icing sugar little by little until well combined. Add the liqueur and beat until light and smooth.
- When the cupcakes are cool, frost them and dust cocoa powder on top.
*Every oven is unique. Know your oven and adjust the temperature and baking time.