My husband is a very keen baker and for the last 12 years or so has wholeheartedly embraced ‘show baking’. Our local show, the Tanunda Show, is 107 years old, and every year in March, locals get busy with their entries. Come Show Day, they excitedly join the crowds in the bustling Show Hall (with its shell-grit floor) to view the final judging on the many and varied classes.
With a bounty of produce and a proud local tradition of home cooking, the cookery classes are hotly contested. All ages enter for a chance to win a prize ribbon and bragging rights (the prize money of $3 is not the endgame here). It’s a shed chock full of decades of accumulated local baking knowledge that is not to be trifled with (you see what I did there…).
Show baking has its own set of rules and depending on the class you enter, those rules can seem both fairly strict and just downright obscure! The bakey-bloke has learnt that points will be deducted for having cooling rack marks on the bottom of your cake, and there is immediate disqualification if the judges think you have used a packet mix (not that he’d ever do that!).
Over the years he has been entering, he’s actively sought older, and more experienced entrants to learn from – most of whom are very generous with their time and knowledge. He’s entered everything from ANZAC biscuits to Savoury Muffins and pretty much every cake class in-between. This has resulted in a number of well-deserved ribbons and one highly coveted sash. It’s also enough to almost make me want to move out during ‘show-week’ as the baking preparations can be pretty intense!
He enjoys this community event so much, that for the last few years he has sponsored several cake classes, both to support the Show and to encourage others to enter. This year he is sponsoring the Men’s Chocolate Cake class which he sees as a great opportunity for blokes to learn or practice an important life skill – baking!
Last year there were 37 entrants, with the class attracting more entrants than any other class in the cookery section. First prize was won by Steve (pictured) who proudly attested that it was the first cake that he’d ever baked! When asked what the judges liked, they said it was a very well-cooked, tasty cake.
‘Stout’ Chocolate Cake Recipe
The recipe below is one that the bakey-bloke has used a few times, and he’s adapted it to include some local ingredients. It’s quite a ’stout’ recipe that results in a cake very similar to a mud-cake, one that’s just perfect whether you’re entering the Show, or just looking for a decadent chocolate cake for afternoon tea or dessert.
Happy baking and good luck in the Show!
Note: I’m writing this recipe from an Australian perspective, so there may be some differences in baking terms. Here are a few explanations – icing is frosting, measurements are metric etc.
The recipe below is adapted from a recipe by Smitten Kitchen.
- 1 cup (235 ml) stout (he uses Rehn Bier Stout)
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups Plain flour
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large free-range eggs
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 170 grams Barossa Valley Chocolate Company Milk Chocolate Callets (or any good quality milk chocolate melts)
- 90 ml pouring cream – Jersey Fresh cream is our local fave
- ‘Freckles’ for decoration
- Mixing Bowls – 2 large
- Electric Mixer or Electric Hand Beaters
- Saucepan – 1 medium
- Double-boiler saucepan – for making ganache
- 1 x round cake pan.
For show-cooking, the pan must have a maximum diameter of 23cm. If possible, do not use a spring-form pan.
- Baking Paper or Non-Stick Spray
- Cooling Rack
Note: I’ve included information later in the post about where you can purchase equipment.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius (350 Fahrenheit).
Line cake pan with baking paper or spray with non-stick spray.
Making the Cake Batter
Place the butter and stout in a saucepan and over medium heat, gently bring to a simmer.
Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another large bowl, use the electric beaters to beat eggs and sour cream until just combined.
Add the slightly cooled chocolate/stout mixture to the egg mixture and mix until just combined.
Add the flour mixture and mix together on a slow speed.
Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the batter together until completely combined.
Baking the Cake
Pour batter into your prepared cake pan.
Place in a pre-heated oven.
Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until when you insert a skewer into the cake’s centre, it comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven and place on a cooling rack.
Let the cake cool slightly and then turn it out of the pan top side down onto the cooling rack .
Note: It is ok to have cooling rack marks on the top of your cake as you will cover it with icing.
Icing the Cake
Let cake cool completely.
To make your ganache icing, place the remaining chocolate and cream in the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water.
Stir occasionally while the chocolate melts. When the mixture is smooth and warm, drizzle over the top of cooled cake.
Decorate as desired. The bakey-bloke used ‘Freckles’ from the Barossa Valley Chocolate Company (I *may* have eaten the leftovers…).
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase something through these links, at no additional cost to you.
23cm Round Cake tin – buy online here
23 cm Deep Round Cake tin – buy online here
Pyrex Mixing Bowl Set – buy online here
Mixing Bowl set with airtight lids – buy online here
Stainless Steel Double Boiler Saucepan – buy online here
Have any questions?
I’d love to hear about your show baking experience, or if you have any questions about the recipe, please email me
These images were all shot using the White Wood and White Chippy Wood photo backgrounds – available in the Chookapeck Shop.
For more information on using photo backgrounds in food styling photography – check out this blog post.