- Food & Drink
I originally published this recipe on March 17th 2010, a month before I went to Ballymaloe to learn how to cook. It was my St Patrick’s Day post and marked the final countdown to moving to Ireland for three months. A time of using up things, packing up things, throwing things away and panicking. How little life changes.
When this blog moved from a rickety basic blog to a swish website, some posts refused to come with it and this was one of them. Clearly a few recipes preferred things rustic (curiously, fruit cakes seem to have been disproportionally inclined to do this. The Christmas cake recipe wouldn’t move either. Fruit cakes are obviously old fashioned in more ways than one). Whenever I discover one, I try to repost the recipe because where would your St Patrick’s Day be without porter cake?
Porter, if you’re wondering, is a kind of strong, dark beer that started off in London in the early 1700s. By the 1770s Sir Arthur Guinness had started brewing it in Dublin. He brewed three strengths of porter: X, XX and XXX. The triple X was renamed Guinness Extra Stout Porter and a thousand black and white advertising campaigns came mewling into the world not long after.
Porter is not Guinness, though you could probably switch it into this recipe if you like. Otherwise, seek out a bottle of London porter in your local artisan beer bottle shop. Eat with more beer and cheese.
Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!
220g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
220g soft dark brown sugar
120g mixed peel, chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
330ml bottle porter
500g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 Preheat the oven to 170°C/Fan 150°C/Gas 3. Grease a 20cm cake tin with butter and line the base with baking parchment.
2 Beat the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale, fluffy and combined. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until combined. Stir in the dried fruits, mixed peel and porter.
3 Sift in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice and stir well to combine. Scrape the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for 11/2 hours or until risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin. Wrap it in greaseproof paper and foil and store in an airtight tin until needed. It should keep quite well for a couple of weeks.