Guinness Cake is a variation on many old recipes. This recipe won Second Place in the Fruit Cake division in the 2008 Wisconsin State Fair! This version was taught to me by my grandpa Ned (who was a great cook) who learned it from his mother, whom we all called McMum. Legend has it that she brought the recipe with her from Cork, Ireland. I can best describe it as a hybrid of an English pudding and a fruitcake.
Don’t let the long baking time scare you. This is a fun thing to make on a cold day. I often make them at the holidays and tuck individually wrapped cakes into cookie boxes for friends and neighbors.
Guinness Cakes freeze well. The old ways work best. Wrap first in waxed paper. Wrap again in freezer paper. Then put into a Ziploc freezer bag. Defrost at room temperature.
Some notes on techniques: Hand mixing is essential for this recipe. The fruits and nuts can’t stand up to an electric mixer. Liberate a large serving fork and make it your special baking tool. Or, like me, you’ll be in a rush and use the nearest fork and end up with a full set of bent forks and misshapen spoons. —Christina Ward
Please note: You can substitute many wonderful dried fruits for this recipe. Chop them up and stick 'em in! Just add a bit more beer and flour as needed.
Pre-heat your oven to 275 degrees. Into a large bowl, sift flour and baking soda together. Then cut in room temperature butter with the flour. You’re looking for a rough, pebbly consistency. Now cut in the sugar. (A large fork works great for this.)
Into another smaller bowl, crack eggs. Beat together. Mix in the juice of one lemon. Add this combo to the “dry” mixture. Stir just until mixed. Now add one bottle of Guinness Stout Beer. Stir it all together. (It actually foams up a bit- this is good! I told you to use a big bowl!)
Now add in the tinned cherries. Mix until evenly distributed throughout the batter. Add in the strawberries. Mix until evenly distributed throughout the batter. Add in the orange and lemon peel. Mix. Add in the sultanas, cranberries, and almonds. The batter will be getting thicker now so keep stirring. The consistency of the batter will be similar to pancake batter. If you think your batter is too thin, add a bit of flour- one quarter cup at a time- thoroughly stir until you get the consistency you want. Let the mixture rest.
Generously butter your pans. Using a large serving spoon or ladle, scoop the mixture into your baking pans. Place in oven and bake for about 2 and half hours. Check your pans at 2 hours. If you used the smaller Nordic Ware pans it takes less time. If you’re using a loaf pan, it may take about three hours. When done, remove from oven and let cool entirely. Carefully remove from pan. Serve in a bowl with freshly made hand whipped cream and a cup of coffee.