Cake Recipes

Traditional Irish Porter Cake

Traditional Irish Porter Cake RecipeThanks in great part to the universal success of Guinness, the history of Ireland and stout – a type of porter – is inseparable. Irish Porter Cake, best made with stout, is something of a tradition in the country. Whether it’s a cake eaten but once a year – on St. Patrick’s Day – is up for debate. But it’s certainly a valid excuse to indulge.

Irish porter cake is a moist fruit cake, best made with a dark, rich stout. Guinness will do the trick, but I opted for a particularly flavoursome double stout. The cake benefitted.

Like many of the most traditional cakes from around the British Isles – Cornish hevva cake, being another example – porter cake is exceptionally simple. Ready to bake in just 15 minutes, it is a cake that you can throw together at a moment’s notice.

That is not to say that it should be slung together and served immediately. It is generally accepted that porter cake ought to be baked and left to sit in its tin for at least 24 hours. The longer the better; time allows for flavours and richness to develop. Though it does taste good straight from the oven.

How To Make Traditional Irish Porter Cake

A word on the mixed fruit too. If frugality is your central desire, then by all means use a basic mix; things will still turn out well. But for a little extra fancy give a better quality mix a go.

I used 100g of currants, 100g of sultanas and 300g of a ‘luxury fruit mix’, comprising sultanas, raisins, cherries and cranberries. A little more expensive, but certainly worth it. Spending a smidge more is often worth it; life must be enjoyed.

For more traditional cake recipes from our fair Isles, see my Cornish Hevva Cake, Scripture Cake and Welsh Cakes…

Traditional Irish Porter Cake

Makes 1 cake (20x20cm)


  • 225g butter
  • 225g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 300ml porter or stout
  • 500g mixed fruit
  • 100g candied peel
  • a pinch of salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice, or equivalent
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten


  1. In a large pan, melt together the butter and sugar. Once liquid, tip in the stout and bring to a brisk boil. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan). Line a cake tin of 20x20cm, or equivalent.
  2. Incorporate the fruit, candied peel, salt and lemon zest. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, mix together the flour, spices and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Once cool, fold through the fruit and stout mixture. Beat in the eggs.
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared tin, level and bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until cooked through.
  5. The cake is ready once cooled a little, but it’s best served having been left to mature for up to a week.

Recipe for Irish Porter Cake Irish Porter Cake Recipe
Cost: A simple fruit cake, albeit with a glug of stout, this traditional Irish porter cake should set you back in the region of £4.

33 replies on “Traditional Irish Porter Cake”

Great pics on twitter.
Guinness in Ireland tastes better, enjoy!
Porter Cake looks scrumptious, must make this to try, off shopping to get some stout so that I can make cake tomorrow…
I can only imagine the mouthwatering aroma coming from the kitchen while it’s being prepared and cooked.
Love fruit cake, especially your Scripture Cake, I’m certain that I’m going to enjoy this.
Surprised at how easy Porter Cake is to make, can’t wait to try it!
Thanks for the recipe.
Odelle Smith.

I love your recipes. I have no ability with them, unfortunately. My powers of conversion are nil (converting from the superior format of metric into standard equivalents). Your recipes are still inviting, even without a way to sample them. I crave English tea, and all of the complementary, even if frugal, delicacies.

There is such general antipathy toward fruitcake here, but I think perhaps knowing this one is made with stout might make some people more openminded about trying it. Alas, I don’t think any of my offspring would fall into that category. But, nothing says I can’t make this just for myself! Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

Ohhh, where did you find the luxury fruit mix?? I know I could mix my own but I am always on the look out for dried fruit mixes that don’t contain the dreaded and detested candied peel . . . !!

[…] more idea about what you could cook this St. Patrick’s Day, why not give my simple recipe for Porter Cake a go, or if Guinness really does take your fancy, there’s a casserole for that […]

I made this cake today and it turned out wonderfully!
I’d like to ask how you would go about storing it for the week to let it mature.
How do I wrap it and at what temperature is it stored?
I’m in the US and this is the first fruit cake I’ve made. I used currants, dried cranberries and dried sweet cherries,
and Guinness, of course

Hi Nick, Looking forward to making this cake but the temperature of 180C for 1 1/2 – 2hrs seems a bit high or the baking time too long. Is it correct?

Delicious fruitcake! It reminds me of the one my grandma used to make. Even my Provencal husband liked it, and he’s usually not very receptive to anglo-saxon recipes.

Thank you so very much for the suggestions of conversion charts on the internet and Aldi – I’m in California! We have an Adli a few miles away and I can get Guinness (though it will be an import) at the local “Bev’mo”! Am making it for an Irish potluck at our friends house on Tuesday!

If you like my recipes, photos or food please leave a comment here...