Friday, March 14, 2008

Ode to Oats

Perhaps I was a horse in another lifetime. I really love oats. I love the unmistakable flavor, the slight earthy smell and the absolute chewy satisfaction. So many lovely lingering oat experiences under our belts. I’ve never forgotten the incredibly light and delicate crispy oatmeal wafers I once bought in an airport in Mexico City on my way to Oaxaca. Sigh.

Oats form a nice canvas for various spices. They also welcome the friendship of apples, cherries, plums, peaches, dried fruits, nuts and assorted other embellishments. I’ll always favor a recipe or a product if it has oats in it.

So it makes perfect sense that while browsing through Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen, I was more than intrigued when an Oatmeal Stout Cake recipe jumped off the page at me. The cake features steel cut oats that are soaked in dark stout beer as its principal ingredients. I had to try this! I’m happy to report the results are definitely worth the mix.

This cake is an interesting variation on the oat cake theme. Steel cut oats provide a sturdy chewiness to the slightly dense and very moist texture of the cake. Soaking them in a stout beer adds a great flavor note and the smell of them once they sit for a couple of hours is really intriguing. The cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and citrus add just the right warmth and depth. I say, check it out.

Bench notes:
- The “old fashioned oats” called for in the recipe are coarse Irish steel cut oats, not instant. The most easily acquired product is McCann’s Irish Oats.
- The recipe has a broiled topped that I’ve omitted. I think the cake is sweet enough without it and I also have a thing about sweetened condensed milk. But if you’d like to give it a go, I’ve included it below the main body of the recipe.
- I used Guinness Extra Stout, a lovely dark beer with a pronounced aroma of malt and very, very slight hints of some aspects of coffee and chocolate.
- Although the directions call for baking the cake for 55 to 65 minutes, mine was done in 45 minutes. My oven runs a bit hot, but do check it at the 45 minute mark.

Oatmeal Stout Cake
adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley
Serves 10

1 C old-fashioned oats, also called coarse oatmeal or Irish oatmeal (not instant)
1 1/4 C oatmeal stout or other dark stout bear, such as Guinness
4 oz (1 stick) butter @ room temperature
1 C packed dark brown sugar
1 C granulated sugar
2 eggs @ room temperature
1/2 t vanilla
1 t finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 C flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg

Combine oatmeal and stout in a non-reactive bowl. Cover with plastic and chill for two hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9-inch springform or 9-inch round cake pan with 3-inch-high sides. Line with parchment and lightly grease the paper.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Combine the sugars.

Drain the chilled oat mixture, reserving the stout. You’ll have about 1 C of stout.

Cream the butter and sugars until blended and slightly fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and orange zest. Scrape down the bowl.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture in three steps, alternating with the reserved stout. End with the final addition of flour. Be careful not overmix. Fold in the oats with a rubber spatula and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool the cake completely on a rack before serving. This cake will keep for several days if tightly double wrapped.

If you wish to add the topping:

Chewy Oat Topping

2 oz (1/2 stick) butter @ room temperature
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
1/4 C sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C old-fashioned oats
1/2 C lightly toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the broiler. Mix all ingredients for the topping together while the cake is still in the pan. Toss it over the cooled cake. Place under the broiler and cook until the topping is golden and bubbling. Watch it closely as it will burn very quickly. Cool for at least 10 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature.


Anonymous said...

Well don't that look tasty, deah!! No sooner featured at :ps than mixed up at home.


Brilynn said...

This sounds so interesting! I love steel cut oats and I've been wondering lately about baking with them. I want to give this a try.

Amara said...

Looks moist and with a nice texture. I love old style oats. So much tastier than instant.

Amara said...

No no wait! I maximized the pictures. It looks fabulous!

Anonymous said...

heh, i love oats too, and i wrote a post about them called "oat odes"! this cake sounds unusual and wonderful.

pastry studio said...

Thanks to all for your oat allegiance! I hope you have a chance to try this unusual cake. It would be good to add to the table for brunch with a house full of people.

Michelle, I just found your "Oat Odes" post and it sounds delicious. Thanks for stopping by.

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

I will definitely bookmark this recipe. So interesting and perfect for St. Patty's Day. I love oats as well... you said it perfectly.

Anonymous said...

marvelous oat cake:
steel cut horse food and dark stout
baked to perfection

test it comm said...

This sounds amazing!! I really like the idea of using Guinness in a cake. I just recently discovered steel cut oats and I have been enjoying them. The only thing that I have used them for so far is porridge. I like the idea of using them in a cake! Bookmarked!

liz song mandell said...

Beautiful pictures and great recipes! Your blog is delightful. Chris M introduced me to your blog; he and I are colleagues at HopeLab. :)

pastry studio said...

Hi Liz - thank you for your support. Please give my best to Chris!

Y said...

What a great looking cake. I'm a card carrying member of the oat fan club too, so will be bookmarking this recipe to try some time :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Steel-Cut (aka Pin Head) are my all-time favorite! Perhaps we were horses in the same pasture - haha!

I use to purchase them in the can like you, but I've found them much cheaper in the bulk bulk bin section at my local health food store.

I dislike beer - what would you suggest as an alternate?

pastry studio said...

Hello ButterYum! I think the properties of the stout beer are an essential part of the chemistry of the cake, so I don't know what to recommend as a substitute. The finished product doesn't taste of beer, if that's of any help!