Guinness Porter Cake with Whiskey Caramel Sauce
Guinness porter cake – In honor of Ireland and upcoming St. Patrick’s day this cake will be a perfect gift for any party or family gathering. Here’s my brioche-styled version of this traditional Irish fruit cake containing Irish porter beer (Guinness), dried fruit (I used candied cherries) aaand yeast. To be honest, I think because of the yeast this isn’t the usual porter cake, but on the other hand, it’s my own version anyway, so I guess this is fine. May St. Patrick be indulgent with me.
Although St. Patrick’s day isn’t much of a thing here in Austria, I definitely didn’t want to miss out on the chance to explore some Irish recipes. When I was looking for inspiration I found loads and loads of recipes for stews, corned beef, Irish coffee (which, by the way, is great) and some fabulous desserts using either whiskey or beer!
Eventually, two recipes stroke my eye, and both were cakes which is quite unusual since I consider myself not to be much of a cake and dessert person. Nonetheless, the first recipe was for “porter cake”, a rich and dense Irish fruit cake, made with porter beer and baking soda. The second recipe was for “barmbrack”, which I found to be a cake made with yeast and dried fruits that somehow reminded me of a variety of brioche my grandma used to make when I was younger. Now there I was, with two great recipes and no idea which one to make. There just were not enough people around to justify making two cakes.
In order to stick to my initial plan of making just one cake I did what I usually do in situations like this. Of course, I didn’t just make either the one or the other cake. No! Although, in retrospect, that would’ve been much less painstaking, faster and simpler, but more on that later. My plan was to combine both recipes and create a brioche style porter cake with dried cherries.
Personally, I really enjoy cakes like panettone once in a while and I think this is mostly due to the dedication you need in order to make great brioche. This is something that takes time… a lot of it.. Panettone, for example, is an incredibly heavy and rich, yet fluffy Italian Christmas cake, usually made with loads of dried fruits and almonds. A while ago I made one for my mom’s birthday and, believe it or not, it took me a day or so to make it. Because of the huge amounts of raisins, candied peel and butter the rising time was about 15 hours. Whereas this might sound absolutely ridiculous, the work and time pay off and reward you with a cake that’s inconceivably rich and fluffy at the same time.
But back to my Guinness porter cake. All in all, I could’ve made the barmbrack which basically is Ireland’s version of raisin bread. On the other hand, the idea of baking a cake with porter beer was just too tempting! But, what is porter anyway? Is Guinness porter? Good question! I had absolutely no idea either, but I was pretty sure that Guinness is a stout.
So, is Guinness porter beer or not?
Porter beer, in general, is a dark style of beer that initially has been brewed in London and then made its way and became increasingly popular. Especially, well… Guess what! Among London’s porters, hence the name. Originally the beer has been made from dark roasted malt, highly hopped and aged for quite some time. As to the name, the brewers went over to call strong porters – “stout porters” at some point in beer history. Thus, it becomes apparent that stouts and porters are related, as their histories are intertwined to some extent. Sometime, the name “stout porter” was dropped and nowadays, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between porter and stout. At least I couldn’t distinguish the one from the other. For this reason, I highly recommend good old Guinness extra stout for this porter cake. No need to find an Irish specialties shop! Then again, Guinness DOES sell porters again! Therefore, if you can get hold of a Guinness Dublin Porter or a West Indies Porter, I’d say, go for it.
Whiskey caramel sauce
Do you know what goes incredibly well with the malty and spicy flavors of the Guinness porter cake? Exactly! A whiskey caramel sauce should go darn well with this cake! Here are two reasons why I think this is true:
- First of all, this is a recipe for St. Patrick’s day, which inherently comes with rather high consumption of various fermented and distilled beverages anyway.
- Secondly, we’re about to make a cake with beer, so why on earth should we stop there?
The recipe below probably makes more sauce than you will need for this great Irish fruit cake. But for simplicity and in order to spare you major measuring issues I highly recommend sticking to the recipe.
PLUS…“Omg I have too much caramel sauce – what should I do?!“ said no one ever before! I promise you’ll find a way to put it to use. You could, for instance, pour it over another cake of mine, such as this gluten free chocolate quinoa cake.
- 350 g all purpose flour (3 cups)
- 100 g dark brown sugar (1/2 cup)
- 150 g unsalted butter (at room temperature) (1 1/2 stick)
- 150 g candied cherries (candied peel or raisins work just fine) (a handful)
- 200 ml Guinness (1 cup)
- 3 medium eggs
- 4 tbsp molasses
- 1 sachet of yeast (or baking soda, if you can't wait for the yeast dough to be ready)
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp ground mace (or nutmeg)
- 1/4 tsp of ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of whiskey
- 1/4 cup of double cream
- a sprinkle of salt
- Combine flour, salt, yeast (or baking soda) and spices, mix thoroughly and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the eggs, sugar and butter and mix with medium speed until creamy and airy.
- Pour the guinness in a glass and add the molasses, then mix until the molasses is dissolved completely.
- Add all three together and mix until well combined. In the end, the dough should be quite wet but not completely runny.
- Then add your dried fruit and mix again, until the fruits are well distributed.
- Butter a bundt cake pan and coat the walls with a tbsp of flour, then add the dough.
- Cover with cling film and let the dough rise until at least doubled. Depending on how warm the room is this can take from a couple hours to overnight.
- If you decided to substitute the yeast with regular baking soda, your cake is ready to bake in a preheated oven (180°C / 380°F) for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Add the sugar to a small saucepan and put it over medium high heat.
- Do not go away and only stir occasionally once the sugar begins to melt and gets an amber color and be careful not to burn yourself or the sugar.
- Once the sugar has a nice color, put the saucepan off the heat and add the whisky and the doublecream. (Be careful again.. during the first few moments this will splash like hell).
- Stir until well combined.
- Pour over the guinness porter cake and enjoy 🙂
In case your caramel sauce breaks and you have a mix that's rather unpleasant to look at, don't panic! Ad one or two tsps of cold water and stir until you have a homogenous creamy caramel sauce again. --> This works also for hollandaise sauce 😉