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Chocolate Guinness Cake - Freezing & Icing

Asked by FizzyLiz. Answered on 29th September 2011

Full question

I have baked your Chocolate Guinness Cake (Feast, p286) several times, and find the cake to be delicious and a good texture. However, I have had failures with the cream cheese topping on every occasion! I live in Canada, in case that may be a factor, but I have been able to follow the recipe exactly (using proper Philly, weighing the icing sugar, and adding whipping cream). The topping always turns out sticky and runny, and does not hold its shape as in your illustration. It slowly flows over the top edges of the cake immediately after the cake is iced. Have you had similar experiences with this recipe, and how did you overcome this problem? Thank you for any advice, Liz

I would love to make the Chocolate Guinness Cake for a birthday party but will not have time on the day - can the cake be frozen so that I can make this in advance? Vicki

Our answer

There are a couple of reasons that the icing on the Guinness Cake may be a little runny in this case. The first is that Canadian whipping cream has a fat content of around 36% vs UK double cream at 48%. This means that when whipped the Canadian cream (and US heavy cream) is not as stable as British double cream and will have a tendancy to liquefy slightly as it stands, causing the icing to be a litte runny. We have also seen some comments regarding very soft cream cheese icing in other recipes and we wonder if the cream cheese sold in platic tubs/containers is possibly formulated to spread more easily than the old-fashioned foil-wrapped "bar" variety. When mixed with the icing (confectioners') sugar it sometimes liquefies. To overcome this we suggest you try a 50/50 mixture of softened butter and cream cheese rather than all cream cheese. This may help the mixture to stabilize. We would also suggest that you use a food mixer for the frosting rather than a food processor. You could also refrigerate the frosting for 10 minutes before you spread it on the cake, just to help it firm up a bit.

The cake itself can be made up to 3 months in advance and frozen. Wrap it in a double layer of clingfilm followed by a layer of foil before freezing. To thaw the cake unwrap it and let it stand at room temperature for about 4 hours. The frosting can be made in advance and frozen but would need to come up to room temperature before spreading on the cake, so it is probably just easier to quickly make the frosting when you need to ice the cake. We would not recommend freezing the iced cake.

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