My daughter Ivy was born on 23 December. We arrived home with her on Christmas morning, shellshocked, loved up and thoroughly knackered – just as many parents of newborns are. Christmas that year, not surprisingly, was a little different from others. I can’t quite remember how we even got through the day, to be honest. On Boxing Day, or shortly afterwards (time takes on a curious quality when you’re relentlessly sleep-deprived), a baker friend dropped round with a cake (disclaimer: dropping round on somebody post-birth can elicit joy, but also visceral horror at the thought of having to greet anyone from the outside world, so do get permission first). “It’s got stout in it,” she said, and with that she was gone. The rumour goes, although I think it’s considered a bit of an old wives’ tale these days, that drinking stout is good for new mothers, improving iron and stimulating milk supply. I have no idea whether stout does help, but I do know that good cake is a salve and makes the world go round, especially for bleary-eyed new parents. This one is also incredibly easy to bake.
unsalted butter 230g
unsweetened cocoa powder 70g
rolled oats 50g, plus 2 tbsp more to sprinkle
plain flour 200g
caster sugar 250g, plus 1 tbsp more to sprinkle
bicarbonate of soda 1½ tsp
salt a big pinch
eggs 2, beaten
sour cream 150g, plus more to serve
Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gas mark 4. Line a 24cm cake tin with baking paper. Bring the stout and butter to a boil in a saucepan over a moderate heat. Add the cocoa and oats and whisk well until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool a little.
Whisk the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and big pinch of salt together in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs and sour cream into the stout and cocoa mixture, mixing thoroughly to combine. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and fold together until the batter is completely combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and sprinkle with the extra sugar and oats. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool in the tin a little, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with extra sour cream.