Guinness Cake is so “typical Irish” that it hurts ... because Ireland's favourite drink (that would be Guinness) is in it, a bit at least. Otherwise it would be just another heavy, fruity, moist cake best enjoyed during the colder months. Which makes it a good Christmas treat as well. Just remember to prepare it well in advance, like French wine and Scottish whisky, Irish Guinness Cake actually improves with age. What it definitely does not improve is your waistline ... watch your calories!
All in all, Guinness cake is an easy bake and you cannot really mess it up (as long as all the ingredients are well mixed). It will keep well for some time – in fact it has to “rest” for a week at least before it achieves it full flavour.
Guinness Cake - Ingredients
You will need the following ingredients to bake a Guinness cake (but see the notes below):
- 225 gr or 8 oz softened butter – any butter will do, but I prefer slightly salted Irish butter
- 225 gr or 8 oz soft brown sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 275 gr or 10 oz plain flour – use well-ground flour, no wholemeal and definitely no self-raising flour
- 2 teaspoons of ground mixed spice
- 225 gr or 8 oz seedless raisins
- 225 gr or 8 oz sultanas
- 100 gr or 4 oz glacé cherries
- 100 gr or 4 oz mixed peel
- 100 gr or 4 oz walnuts
- 150 ml or ¼ pint Guinness – definitely Guinness Stout, not Guinness Black (a lager)
Some Notes on Guinness Cake Ingredients
Another recipe I found uses more flour (350 gr or 12 oz), less eggs (3), half the amount of nuts ... but adds a teaspoon of baking powder. This results in a slightly “lighter” cake (both in colour and texture).
Feel free to add some variety by substituting some sultanas and raisins with other dried fruit, dates and figs work well, as do apricots. Just raid your kitchen cabinet (or local store). You may also use other nuts if you like, or substitute them with dried fruit if you have to be allergy-conscious (or chocolate flakes – but this will dramatically alter the taste).
If you do not have Guinness at hand, any other stout or porter will do (like Murphy's or Beamish). As leftovers of this ingredient do not keep well, the baker should feel free to dispose of the rest of the opened bottle or can by drinking it ... after all, baking is hard and hot work and one needs refreshments and calories!
Should you want to avoid alcohol as an ingredient altogether, substitute the Guinness by anything liquid you like – non-alcoholic malt beer would do well, as would Russian “kvas” (if you can get it).
Guinness Cake – How to Bake
Start with the not-too-hard but mind-numbing work: Cherries, peel and walnuts have to be chopped, as will other dried fruits if you add them. The good news is that you do not have to achieve a very fine powder, a rough chop will do. Take your sultanas and raisins as a guideline. Then let the bake begin:
- The first step in the actual baking process is to cream butter and sugar together, the end result should be light and fluffy. Add a pinch of salt if you use unsalted butter.
- Now gradually beat in the eggs, aiming for a consistent, creamy structure again.
- Sift flour and spice together into a separate bowl, then fold it into the creamy mixture.
- Fold all other ingredients (except the Guinness) into the mix.
- Finally add 4 tablespoons of Guinness to the mix ... and mix well.
- Take a greased and lined cake tin of 18 cm (or 7 inch) diameter and slowly pour the finished mixture in.
- Bake for 60 minutes in a moderately hot oven (160 ° C, 325 ° F).
- Reduce oven heat slightly to 150 ° C (300 ° F) and bake the cake at least another 90 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the tin, then turn it out.
- Prick the base of the cake generously with a skewer, then spoon the rest of the Guinness over the base and give it some time to soak into the cake.
- When the Guinness has finally soaked in, store the finished and uncut cake in an airtight container just big enough for at least a week.
Guinness Cake Extras
Guinness Cake can be served own its own – it goes especially well with a milky tea. You can also add some ice cream or brandy sauce for an extra treat, but this is not necessary.