[Meredith Graves — Perfect Pussy frontwoman, Honor Press founder, Voice festival correspondent, etc. — loves making and eating food just as much as she loves making and listening to music. With Recipe For Disaster, her new weekly column, Meredith will listen to a new album and pair it with a recipe that goes nicely with the music. This week, Enya is releasing her first album in seven years, Dark Sky Island, so Graves did what anyone would do when tasked with whipping up anything having to do with the Emerald Isle: she reached for the Guinness. Sláinte, or something.]
“Fuck! Fuck you! Fuck me! Fuck old people! Fuck children! Fuck peace! Fuck peace…”
– Miranda July as Christine in Me, You and Everyone We Know
Fuck New York City, fuck love, fuck cake, and fuck Enya, for the record. This week sucks and I feel like shit and I’m guessing you do too for one reason or another. The world is going to hell. Innocent people were killed en masse in Paris, Beirut, Syria, and a few other places. And in case that wasn’t enough misery for you, we’ve still got global warming, tech slavery, police brutality, disease epidemics, college students striking out against blatant racism, an international hunger crisis, gentrification, the Republican debates, and you’re probably lonely and can barely afford your apartment.
I don’t know what to say but gee, Enya made a new album. The album is called Dark Sky Island. Do you remember Enya? She’s been huge in her home country of Ireland for decades; in the United States she’s best known for “Orinoco Flow” and other select singles that made it onto the Pure Moods compilations, featured heavily on late-night television commercials throughout the Nineties.
Enya is the musical equivalent of the picture of mountains they tack on the ceiling over the examining table at the gynecologist. It’s not actually going to make anything hurt less. It merely hints at the existence of an emotional analgesic. Stare at the picture. If it still hurts, the image suggests, you probably weren’t staring hard enough.
The album sounds exactly like an Enya album, which is to say, it’s definitely worth a listen. Enya’s fucking great. Pure Moods commercials are burned into my brain forever. So we made a cake with Irish beer in it because Enya’s from Ireland, and frankly, I don’t have much else to offer this week. This is an unbelievably good cake. Probably the best cake I’ve ever made. And I took one bite and pushed it away because it feels like the wrong time to enjoy anything nice.
For the Cake:
2 cups stout, preferably Guinness
2 cups (4 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups sugar (seems like an unnecessary amount — trust me, it isn’t)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream
For the Icing:
2 cups whipping cream
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
To make the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Oil three 8-inch round cake pans.
2. Simmer beer and four sticks of butter over medium heat in a big saucepan, and delight in the fact that this cake starts with an obscene amount of butter and beer. Remove from heat when the butter is melted and incorporated. Whisk in the cocoa powder. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool down a bit.
3. In a very large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
4. In another bowl, use a hand-mixer to combine the 4 eggs with the sour cream.
5. Slowly add the beer-chocolate mixture to the eggs and sour cream, slowly enough that the hot liquid doesn’t cook the eggs. Beat until combined. No matter how good this looks, don’t taste it. It tastes pretty bad.
6. Using the hand mixer, pour the liquids into the big-ass bowl of flour/sugar/etc. Beat until just incorporated, then switch to a rubber spatula and mix until totally combined.
7. Divide the batter up evenly between the three pans and bake until the center of the cake tests clean on a toothpick. The recipe said 35 minutes, but it took 55 in my friend’s oven. Let them cool in the pans for at least 20 minutes before you transfer them to a cutting board or wire rack.
For the icing:
1. Simmer the cream in a medium saucepan. Once simmering, remove from heat. Add in the bittersweet chocolate. Whisk until it’s totally melted and smooth.
2. Refrigerate until it becomes a spreadable frosting. The recipe said about two hours, but it took me a little longer.
When the cakes are cool and the icing is spreadable:
Thinly frost the top of one cake layer. Stack the next on top, repeat the process. Once the three layers are assembled, use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides.
More:Recipe For Disaster