Recipe for Guinness Cake

An Irish Treat That Satisfies ... Not Only At Christmas Time

Guinness beer close-up
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Ever wanted to bake a Guinness fruit cake, but never knew how? Well, here's your chance to make a true Irish delicacy.  The inclusion of Ireland's favourite drink (in other words: Guinness), is what makes the sweet a local favorite. The stout helps to round out the heavy, fruity, moist cake, adding a hint of bitterness to the baked good.

The easy-to-follow instructions are below but the best ingredient is actually time. Whenever possible, be sure to prepare your cake well in advance. Like French wine or Scottish whisky, Irish Guinness cake actually improves with age, with all of the flavors deepening into something even more special if given several days to rest. Perhaps because it needs to sit out, the cake is most often enjoyed during colder months.

All in all, Guinness cake is easy to bake, even for kitchen novices, and is almost guaranteed to turn out well as long as you make sure that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. It will keep well for some time – in fact it has to “rest” for a week at least before it achieves its full flavor.

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 slightly salted Irish butter is best)
  • 225 gr or 8 oz soft brown sugar;
  • 4 medium eggs;
  • 275 gr or 10 oz plain flour use well-ground flour, no wholemeal or 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 (Guinness Stout, not Guinness Black)

Notes on Guinness Cake Ingredients

Alternate recipes sometimes suggest using more flour (350 gr or 12 oz), fewer eggs (3), half the amount of nuts, and adding a teaspoon of baking powder. This results in a slightly lighter cake (both in color and texture).

Feel free to add some variety by substituting some raisins with other dried fruit, with dates and figs working particularly well, as well as apricots. 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, though not for the worse - try to use dark chocolate only, Butler's Irish Chocolate if you have it).

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).

How to Bake Guinness Cake

Start with the not-too-hard but time-consuming 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 for the final size of pieces you are trying to achieve. Once the ingredients are chopped to about the same size, let the baking begin:

  1. 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.
  2. Now gradually beat in the eggs, aiming for a consistent, creamy structure again.
  3. Sift flour and spice together into a separate bowl, then fold it into the creamy mixture.
  4. Fold all other ingredients (except the Guinness) into the mix.
  5. Add 4 tablespoons of Guinness and mix well.
  6. Take a greased and lined cake tin of 18-cm (or 7-inch) diameter and slowly pour the finished mixture in.
  7. Bake for 60 minutes in a moderately hot oven (160° C, 325° F).
  8. 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 center comes out clean.
  9. Let the cake cool in the tin, then turn it out.
  10. 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.
  11. 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 Serving Tips

Guinness cake can be served on its own but it goes especially well with milky tea. You can also add some ice cream or brandy sauce for an extra treat, but this is not necessary. The cake is not usually served with frosting or cream, but feel free to add your own spin to this Irish classic by creating a topping that pairs well with the fruity, nutty batter.

As to longevity, they say Guinness is good for you, and a Guinness cake will keep weeks, if not months, when stored in an airtight container. Then again it tastes so good that it is hard to have the will power to all it to sit for very long at all. 

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