Cook the Book: Irish Porter Cake

Cook the Book: Irish Porter Cake

[Photographs: Caroline Russock]

I've always thought of stouts and porters to be the desserts of the beer world. Their dark caramelized flavors are reminiscent of coffee and chocolate—bitter, sweet, and creamy. With a flavor profile like that, it's no surprise that stouts and porters make an easy passage into the world of baking.

This Irish Porter Cake from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen is the St. Patrick's Day version of of a Christmas fruitcake—except you actually want to eat this one since it's doused in Guinness and ridiculously delicious.

The cake starts out with a warm mix of butter, sugar, and stout. Dried fruit and citrus peel are left to rehydrate or infuse in the sweet, buttery, and beery mixture. The rest of the batter consists of flour, eggs, and a mix of sweet-savory spices known as mixed spice (a British Isles export combining cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, coriander, and a few others but you can approximate your own at home or use a jarred pumpkin pie spice).

Once the cake emerges from the oven and cools, you have the option of pouring a few tablespoons of porter over it. The added porter imparts a bitterness that complements the sweet-spiciness of this cake perfectly.

Ideally, Darina Allen would let this cake sit for a day or two before slicing it but the scent from the freshly baked cake makes it pretty much impossible to resist. With St. Patrick's Day only one day away I would advise getting a head start on this one.

  • Yield:about 20


  • 1 cup butter
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup mixed peel
  • 1 pound all-purpose flour (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons mixed spice or a combination of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
  • 1/2 cup cherries, havled
  • 3 eggs (preferably organic)


  1. 1.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch round pan with parchment paper.

  2. 2.

    Melt the butter, sugar, and stout in a saucepan. Add the orange zest and the fruit and peel (except the cherries). Bring the mixture to a boil for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until it is lukewarm.

  3. 3.

    Sift the flour, baking soda, and mixed spice into a mixing bowl. Add the fruit mixture to the flour and add the cherries. Whisk the eggs; add them gradually, mixing evenly through the mixture.

  4. 4.

    Bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. If you wish, when the cake is cooked, you can pour 4 tablespoons of stout over it. Keep the cake for 2 to 3 days before cutting.