Please help de-alcohol this cake!
November 18, 2016 6:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm making this cake for Thanksgiving and need help substituting a couple of ingredients.

The chocolate layer asks for 1/3 cup Guinness or another stout. Then for the syrup brushed on prior to frosting, the recipe calls for 2 tbsp sloe gin or damson gin.

I'm sure the Guinness and the sloe gin are for flavoring - can someone suggest alternatives? Or, bakers of MeFi - do you think it would be just fine to leave these ingredients out without replacing them?
posted by hilaryjade to Food & Drink (6 answers total)
Add another 2 tablespoons of coffee and add three and third tablespoons of water to replace the Guinness. I think the Guinness's function is to make bitter flavors. Alcohol doesn't help gluten formation so the Guinness might also be working to keep the cake's texture from being too glutinous, so maybe replace 25% of the flour with cake flour.

For the gin you could probably just replace it with more simple syrup, but maybe you could buy some juniper berries and steep them in simple syrup to get some of that flavor, or maybe use a strong flavored fruit like mango.
posted by gregr at 6:50 AM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Because baking around different ingredients is so tricky, I would find another chocolate cake recipe and use that in combination with a different frosting. The Spiced Pumpkin layer looks delicious, though. Here's a comparable chocolate cake. Here's a pumpkin spice frosting.

If you sub out the Guinness you're just going to lose all the flavor in the particular cake recipe above, and I understand that's your question, but I can't think of anything that will have the same consistency of alcohol that is not alcohol. You could try different liquids, definitely, like coffee, but I wouldn't expect it to have the same consistency in the cake itself. I wouldn't do it.
posted by tooloudinhere at 6:50 AM on November 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

For the guinness I would sub a weakish mix of espresso powder in the correct amount of water.

For the sloe gin I would sub thinned plum jam. Sloe's and damsons are plums, but a bit more bitter so the cake should come out similar by using jam. Similar to doing an apricot jam glaze as well just with plum jam instead.
posted by koolkat at 7:25 AM on November 18, 2016

Agree on the plum jam, or if you can still get fresh plums, cut up two and mash or three and cook them in the simple syrup when you make it use 1/4C + 2T flavored syrup.
posted by plinth at 7:43 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agree on plum jam, but it's probably not critical how much. For 6T simple syrup plus damson gin (which is a sweet gin-based liqueur) you could get away with anything from 1/4c jam thinned with water to 1/4c simple syrup with a dollop of jam to give it color and flavor.

For the guinness, it's adding bitterness but also some depth of flavor. Another thing to consider would be to make a burnt sugar syrup - a few Tbsp of sugar in the bottom of a saucepan, low/med heat to melt the sugar, let it get brown, and add 1/3 cup water. Dilute until it's flavored but not syrupy. You'll pick up some bitterness that isn't coffee-flavored, some toastiness, a bit of sweetness. Maybe a shortcut to that would be 4T water plus 1T of darkest blackstrap molasses.

I wouldn't worry about the alcohol affecting gluten formation, the actual amount of aclohol in 1/3c Guinness is <1tsp, not enough to change the way the rest of the liquids interact with the flour.
posted by aimedwander at 7:54 AM on November 18, 2016

I'd use prune juice instead of sloe gin.
posted by essexjan at 10:33 AM on November 18, 2016

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