I’VE been over to Ireland again this week for a short break to catch up with family and friends in Cork. It’s lovely to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life once in a while and experience the countryside, breathe in the fresh air and have a well-earned break. Plus, a trip to Ireland always means I get to enjoy someone else’s cooking for a change!
Cork is a really great place for gastronomy with lots of fresh, local produce on offer and some excellent restaurants, cafés and food suppliers. I like to get out and about and sample as many foodie treats as possible while I’m away and, of course, I like to enjoy a few pints of the Black Stuff while I’m there too. It’s true what they say; a pint of Guinness* always tastes better in Ireland!
As well as being the best-selling drink in Ireland, the Irish stout is also incredibly popular around the world with annual sales currently totalling over 850 million litres. Its characteristic roasted coffee and malty flavours means it also works surprisingly well in a variety of recipes, both savoury and sweet. Guinness and beef stew is a popular dish but try adding it to bread and cakes – or add it to a batter mix for a tangy twist on traditional fish and chips. It can also be incorporated into gravy and sauces to create a greater depth of flavour and colour.
Chocolate and stout also pair really well together, creating a really moist and decadent cake or brownie mix which makes it an ideal birthday cake option for fans of Guinness. One family favourite of ours, however, is this Guinness fruit cake which incorporates a good slug of the black stuff into the rich, fruity batter.
There’s nothing better than a good hearty slice of this cake with a liberal spreading of butter served with a nice cup of tea!
*Other brands of stout or porter can be substituted for Guinness.
450g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
125g candied peel or dried cranberries or a mix of both
300ml Guinness (stout)
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 20cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder and mixed spice into a large bowl and add the sugar.
Rub in the butter and add the fruit and mix before adding the stout (Guinness) and the beaten eggs. Mix together until well combined and transfer to the cake tin.
Bake in the oven for approximately two hours or until a cake skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover with greaseproof paper after 1 hour.
Allow the baked cake to cool on a wire rack before slicing.