Guinness Porter Cake with Orange-Whiskey Butter

by Joseph Erdos
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portercakeWhat I like about Irish baked goods is that they're always hearty and wholesome, like soda bread, scones, porter cake, and biscuits. And I especially like it when recipes are easy to make—ones that don't require yeast, rising dough, and all the things that come with it. One of the easiest cakes to make is porter cake, which gets its name from the Irish beer used. Yes, a bread recipe that uses beer!

In this case the beer is Guinness, the beer of Ireland: A rich, dark, and malty stout with a creamy head that requires a slow and steady multistep pour to get it just right. Guinness was first introduced as a porter in 1725, but its formula was changed to include roasted malt, which created a flavor profile that drinkers called "stout porter" and thus the name stout was born. Being that Guinness is my absolute favorite beer, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to bake this cake for St. Patrick's Day.

Besides Guinness, loads of dried fruit take center stage in this cake. And you can use any mix of dried or candied fruit you like, as long as it equals about 4 cups. This dump-and-stir recipe from my favorite Irish chef, Darina Allen, couldn't be easier to make. The bake time is long, but it's worth the wait. The cake develops a thick, brown crust and a moist interior filled with sticky, sweet fruit. Enjoy this recipe with whiskey butter for the ultimate pairing of beer and spirits.

 

Guinness Porter Cake

Recipe adapted from Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen.

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup chopped prunes
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (about 1 orange)
1-1/4 cups Guinness
2 large eggs, beaten
Orange-Whiskey Butter, for serving (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-by-3-inch round cake pan, line with parchment, and butter again.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon over a large bowl. Crumble in brown sugar and mix well. Rub in butter until crumbly. Mix in the dried fruit.

Mix together the Guinness and beaten eggs. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Mix until well combined. Turn batter out into the parchment-lined pan, smoothing top. Bake for about 2-1/2 hours. A skewer inserted into the center should come out clean. Cool in the pan for about 25 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Serve with orange-whiskey butter. Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Yield: 16 slices.

 

Orange-Whiskey Butter

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (about 1 orange)
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

Whip together butter and sugar, orange zest, and whiskey until smooth. Yield: 1/2 cup.

 

Joseph Erdos is a New York–based writer and editor, but above all a gastronomer and oenophile. He shares his passion for food on his blog, Gastronomer's Guide , which features unique recipes and restaurant reviews among many other musings on the all-encompassing topic of food.

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