Love and Olive Oil

Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I really love making cakes. I jump at any celebration or occasion that calls for cake. Which makes the fact that most of our family lives on the other side of the country rather hard: I see it as a lot of birthdays and missed opportunities for cake. Sure you can mail cards and gifts, but cake? Not so much.

So when my parents happened to be in town for a visit on my Dad’s birthday, well, let’s just say I’ve been planning this cake since July.

I told you I like cake.

Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

The cake itself is a chocolate stout cake, made using an entire bottle of stout beer. But even the beer-adverse (myself included) will love this cake, which has a slight hint of malty flavor, but mostly just comes across as rich, chocolatey, and incredibly dense and delicious, almost brownie-like.

Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I elected to add a layer of gooey dulce de leche in between the buttercream, hoping to accent the caramel notes in the beer and provide a rich contrast to the chocolate and vanilla. It worked. And my Dad commented that the dulce de leche really elevated the cake to extraordinary heights (well, to be fair, his precise words were more like, “Is this dulce de leche? It really… mmmm… nomnomnom… yeah”). Yep. I agree.

Golf Themed Birthday Layer Cake

This is one cake where the outside is as charming as the inside is delightful. Frosted with green buttercream turf, and topped with an edible golf ball made of white chocolate. The hole is actually a shot glass sunk deep into the layers of the cake. It’s a novelty theme cake that’s cute and classy without being kitschy.

It went over quite well. I mean, how could it not? It incorporates beer and golf, two of his favorite things, together in one cake. The only way it made sense, really, since a grass-flavored cake in the shape of a beer bottle wouldn’t have been nearly as appealing.

Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Bean Buttercream

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For Cake:
1 1/2 cups (1 bottle) stout or dark beer
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup dark or dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

For Filling & Frosting:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3/4 cup dulce de leche, room temperature


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans or two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper circles, then butter parchment. Set aside.

Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter melts. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the sifted cocoa powder until smooth. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture, and mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute.

Slowly add the dry ingredients, a little bit at a time, and mix on low speed until incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl to be sure that all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, using a kitchen scale if possible to be sure the layers are even. Place cake pans on middle oven rack about 2? apart (if using three pans space over two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven), and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of each pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Cakes should come out cleanly. Allow to cool completely. At this point, the cakes can be frozen until ready to use, up to 1 month. Simply wrap each layer individually in a double layer of plastic wrap and then store inside a large zip top bag. Personally, I always make my cakes a few days in advance and freeze them. I find the frozen cake to be much easier to level and frost than fresh cakes.

To prepare frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter for on medium speed until very pale & creamy, about 8 minutes. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add cream, vanilla bean, and vanilla extract and beat until light, creamy, and fluffy, about 6 minutes more.

To assemble, level each cake layer by cutting of the domed top with a long serrated knife. Leveling the cakes is an important step for creating a beautiful layer cake. Not to mention eating the scraps is the best part.

Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or serving platter. To keep the platter clean while frosting, place 4 small strips of parchment or waxed paper just under the edges of the cake. This will allow you to frost the cake and then remove these strips cleanly later.

Spread half of the dulce de leche evenly over top of layer, followed approximately 1/2 cup of buttercream. Position second layer on top and press to adhere. Repeat with remaining dulce de leche, another 1/2 cup of buttercream, and final cake layer, flat side up.

Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. This “crumb coat” will make frosting the cake easier. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow this crumb coat to set. At this point if you will be coloring the remaining buttercream, add your food coloring to the mixing bowl and beat until color is smooth and uniform.

Remove cake from refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream, reserving some if necessary for piping decorative details or grass if desired.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour via Sweetapolita.

All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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  1. Hi, Ima a fourteen yearold and im gonna make this cake for my dad who loves golf. Wish me luck! xD This is a dope cake btw.

  2. I’m not sure if you’ll see this, seeing how old this post is, but I sure hope you do! Is it possible to make the frosting without the dulce de Leche? If so, how would you adjust the other ingredients?? Thank you in advance!

    • The buttercream is just a plain buttercream, that then gets layered with the dulce de leche in between the cake layers. You could definitely leave it out, although it’s probably my favorite part of this cake. :)

  3. Outstanding cake and frosting.
    Everyone really enjoyed the flavors and textures.

  4. I live at 5800 ft. Would you recommend any high altitude adjustments to this cake?

    • I have not tried this personally at high altitude, but I might try reducing the leavening slightly and adding an extra tablespoon or two of flour. Maybe make a half batch as a test first, just to make sure it rises properly.

  5. How many teaspoons of pure vanilla extract would you recommend for the substitute of a vanilla bean

  6. Fantastic cake! I’m going to try this for my husband’s 40th birthday! When and how do you sink the shot glass? Where did you get the chocolate golf ball from? Thanks. 

  7. Hi there! Beautiful cake! I’m planning on making this, but I wanted to know how you did the hole? Did you cut it and how? Thanks!

    • Just a pairing knife. You could also use a cookie cutter the size of your shot glass and cut the hole from two of the layers before assembling.

  8. I just found your blog on Pinterest and absolutely love it!! My boyfriend is a golf professional so I just had to make this cake! Did you make the white chocolate golf ball or did you buy it somewhere? Very cute! 

  9. Hi Lindsey
    Please let me know as soon as possible. I need to make a birthday cake for our twin grandchildren and would like to take my time and make it in advance .
    Did you ever freeze a completely ready made cake??
    If so how did it work?

    • I have not frozen an entire cake. I freeze the layers, and then assemble and frost the cake they day of. I’m not sure how freezing would affect the consistency of the buttercream.

    • Thanks Lindsay ! Will see how I am going to manage :)

  10. Hi! I was wondering what tip you used to frost the cake? The grass part? Thanks!

  11. I definitely don’t have to tell you that this cake is just awesome! I found your post on Pinterest last year when looking for a stout-based cake to make for my husband’s birthday. I used this one and created a giant beer mug cake out of it! This has become my mother-in-law’s absolute favorite cake flavor, and of course I just got through using it for St. Patrick’s Day, complete with a boozy buttercream. Thank you for sharing!

  12. I’m looking for a cake for my nephews coming birthday next week and I think this is a winner. Love your imagination on this one. Great work!

  13. Can you explain how you made the golf ball? It’s so realistic looking!

  14. Hey! I LOVE this cake and I am getting reading to make it for my husbands birthday! I have a question that may seem dumb since I don’t see that anyone else has asked it! I was wondering how you got the shot glass into the cake?? Do you just push it into the cake or cut out a hole and then put it in? Thanks in advanced for the clarification!

  15. Dear Lindsay,
    here is my golf cake:
    Thank you,

  16. Dear Lindsay,
    I am Bucci, a reader from Italy. I had to do a golf themed cake, and I figured in my head exactely this cake of yours. Then I surfed the Google images to see if someone else already had my idea, and I happily found your delicious cake!
    Now I am doing it, following your recipe, I just changed little things, to follow my friend’s taste. As soon as I will post my recipe, I’ll come here to write you the link. Obviously I will quote you in my post!
    Thanks a lot, talk to you soon,

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