Guinness is Good for You, It Really Is!

Ireland Hopping | By Margaret M. Johnson

In late 1759, Kildare-born Arthur Guinness decided to "try his luck in Dublin," where he took a 9,000-year lease on a small brewery at St. James's Gate. After first brewing ale, Guinness found that he would have to compete with a new drink popular with the porters at Covent Garden that was being exported to Dublin by London brewers. Tackling the English at their own game, Guinness tried his hand at the new "porter" and established a tradition that is, perhaps, unsurpassed in brewing history. The characteristic dark color of porter, which is made with top-fermenting yeast, is the result of using roasted barley in addition to hops and water. This rich taste in a drink translates beautifully to baking, so if you’re looking for some Guinness-inspired recipes to serve this weekend, you might want to try one of these. Happy St. Patrick’s Day/Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

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1 cup fine whole wheat flour, plus additional for sprinkling

1 cup coarse whole wheat flour or

1/2 cup each quick-cooking Irish oatmeal and oat or wheat bran

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cups buttermilk

3/4 cups Guinness stout

1 tablespoon barley malt extract *

Softened butter, for spreading

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a loaf pan and sprinkle with whole wheat flour.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, oatmeal, oat or wheat bran, sugar, baking soda and salt. With a pastry cutter or 2 forks, work in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Make a well in center. Add buttermilk, Guinness and malt; mix with a wooden spoon (dough will have a porridge consistency).

4. Transfer to prepared pan; sprinkle additional flour on top. Bake for 30 minutes.

5. Reduce temperature to 325°F; bake for 30 minutes longer, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Turn oven off and let bread cool with door open for 30 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Serve slices spread with butter.

* Malt extract, also called barley malt, is available in health foods stores.


SERVES 10 to 12

The origin of this cake is mysterious at best, but possibly originated as an oatmeal pudding. Today it’s called by a number of names, including Scots-Irish Cake, Brown Sugar-Oatmeal Cake, and Guinness Oatmeal Cake. The crunchy coconut-pecan-toffee topping adds an element of surprise and a modern touch to an otherwise traditional cake.

For the cake

1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) Irish oatmeal

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup Guinness

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

For the topping

6 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1. Make cake. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour; tap out excess.

2. In a medium bowl, combine oatmeal, water, and Guinness; let stand for 20 minutes. In another medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

3. Cream butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in flour mixture; stir in oatmeal mixture.

4. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven; transfer to a wire rack to cool.

5. Make topping. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring butter, brown sugar, and cream to a boil; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in pecans and coconut until blended; spread over top of cake.

6. Preheat broiler. Put cake on a rack 4 inches from heat source; broil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until topping is browned and bubbling. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 to 2 hours, or until topping is set. To serve, release sides of pan and cut cake into slices.


Serves 10

These “puddings” are a favorite of both the English and the Irish. More like a cake than a pudding, the dessert gets most of its richness from the toffee sauce — this one enhanced with Irish Cream liqueur. Prepare the sauce while the puddings are baking, as they’re most delicious when the sauce is poured over the warm little cakes. You can also make them a day ahead, leave the puddings at room temperature and reheat the sauce in a microwave.

For the puddings

1 cup Guinness

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup dates, chopped

1 tablespoon baking soda

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

3 medium eggs

2 cups self-rising flour

For the sauce

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur

1. Make puddings. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring Guinness, raisins, walnuts and dates to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes; remove from heat. Let cool completely; stir in baking soda.

2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously grease ten 8-ounce ramekins.

3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and then fold in flour and date mixture.

4. Spoon batter into prepared dishes and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean.

5. To serve, remove puddings from oven and run a knife around sides to loosen. Invert puddings onto serving plates and return to upright. Spoon toffee sauce over the warm puddings.

6. Make sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring cream, brown sugar and butter to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, without stirring, for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in Irish cream.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page now includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, including how to order her cookbooks, visit