When there is a birthday at work I usually make a cake. As my life is pretty chaotic (which actually, I imagine anyone’s life is, in this day and age) I always rack my brains for something I can get up at 6 for, to make on the day, and not be too late for my 9.30am start. This one fits the bill!

Chocolate Cake

Lucy sits next to me at work and I know she likes chocolatey cakes so Fred’s cake immediately sprung to mind. This cake is quite impressive, because you pour boiling water over the mixture and it manufactures its own gooey fudge topping. This will happen, believe me…. Why aren’t all cakes made this way?  Gooooooooooey!


Here’s Fred’s recipe – if you are here for the Hammerton Beer Cake recipe scroll down to the bottom…

Fred MacMurray’s Chocolate Fudge Upside Down Cake

1 & 1/4 cups white sugar (divided use)

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup milk

1 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

5 & 1/2 tablespoons cocoa (divided use)

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 & 1/4 cups boiling water

Cream 3/4 cup of the white sugar and butter.  Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa.  Add to first mixture alternately with milk and put into a 9-inch buttered cake pan.  Sprinkle with nuts.  In another bowl, mix brown sugar with 1/2 cup white sugar and 4 tablespoons cocoa.  When blended, spread in pan on top of nuts.  Pour boiling water on top.  Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees F / 175 degrees C.  Turn upside down.  Serves 8 to 10.

There was another work chum’s birthday the following week and although it’s not a film star recipe I am going to post it here as I’m currently obsessed with Hammerton Beer in all its delightful forms.   I am a Hammerton (my family surname), I love beer, and my nephew has resurrected a dormant family business. What a genius thing to do!


So I’m naturally enough getting into making all kinds of things with the family brew.   There follows my fiddled around with recipe for a birthday cake with beer in it. The recipient – Luke – is a beer lover, hence I made this cake for him…


If you have trouble getting cakes to rise, my recommendation is to BAKE WITH BEER! This cake was GINORORMOUS! I was home alone when I made this, and I did the classic “Bake Off’ look into the oven when it had been there for a while just to check how it was progressing. It was like that movie “The Blob” in there! Beer is GOOD for bread and cake! I was worried it would take over the whole oven.


This is cake to feed a multitude, and it will keep. Just as delicious next day, in fact probably even nicer…

Adapted from Honey and Beer Spice Cake recipe from Joy the Baker’s website (which I love). This in turn was adapted from a recipe in Booze Cakes (got to get that book!) by Krystina Castella and Terry Lee Stone.

booze cakes

You will need an electric mixer for this, unless you have a lot of elbow grease. You will also need a very large cake tin. Joy the Baker recommends 9×13 inch. I used a 10″ round cake tin, and it was only just big enough…

Hammerton Beer Cake!

3 ¾ cups plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon all-spice

¾ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

zest and juice of one lemon

4 oz butter

½ cup sugar

¾ cup light brown sugar

4 legs eggs

1 cup honey

330ml Hammerton N7 Pale Ale

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F / 175 degrees C (I have a fan oven so baked at 160 degrees).

Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixture cream the butter, sugars, spices and lemon zest for around 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.

Beat in the lemon juice and honey.

Add the flour mixture and beer, alternating as follows. On third flour mixture, mix. Half the beer, mix. Second third of flour, mix. The rest of the beer, mix. Finally add the last third of the flour and beat the batter on high speed for 30 seconds.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake in upper third of the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

I let the cake cool for a few minutes then popped it out of the tin to let it cool on a cake rack.

DELICIOUS!  Fred would have liked it.

Spencer Tracy In Movie Still

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