Guinness Stout Cake -or- Not Your Granny’s Fruitcake

Guinness Stout cake is the perfect finish to a holiday meal.

Okay, this may end up being a divisive post, so my apologies in advance.  I find that in the great fruitcake debate, there’s no gray area; you either love it or loathe it and rarely are there any in-betweens.  I loathe the stuff personally.  It typically weighs 12lbs, full of oddly-colored quasi-fruit that I can’t quite identify and has the same density as a cinderblock.   Historically, fruitcake was a grand indulgence reserved for special occasions such as weddings and Christmas celebrations, as it was full of expensive nuts, liquor and imported candied fruits.  So when your Granny sends you a homemade fruitcake, son, that’s because she really, really loves you and doesn’t realize that it’s handed out at white elephant parties as a gag gift and passed out free at corner gas stations with any fuel fill-up.  Gag.

But Guinness stout cake, now I like it pretty well.  Quite well, in fact.  The flavors are sophisticated, but less complicated than your granny’s traditional fruitcake, the texture is more delicate and the fruit is recognizable.  Oh and it weighs far less so you won’t be using this one as a doorstop come January.  Just like traditional fruitcake, you have to start this one well in advance, allowing at least a month or more for the flavors to mingle and mellow.  I typically start mine around Veteran’s Day if I plan on serving it for Christmas.

Alright friends, let’s make a Guinness Stout cake!

The ingredients you’ll need for this cake are

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 12oz pitted, chopped prunes
  • 8oz golden raisins
  • 8oz currants
  • 1 1/4 cup of Guinness Stout, plus more for dousing
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2t baking powder
  • 1/4t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4t ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4c light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 eggs


1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Brush a 9-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with butter. Line pan with parchment paper; brush with butter. Set aside.

2. Combine the chopped prunes, raisins, and currants in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup stout, and let stand for the dried fruit to plump a bit.

3. Sift flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon together. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, scraping down sides twice. Add dry ingredients in two additions; mix just to combine. Fold in fruit mixture.

4. Pour batter into your prepared pan. Bake until dark brown and set and a cake tester inserted into the middle of cake comes out clean, about 3 1/2 hours. (Cracks will appear on top of cake.) Remove from oven; sprinkle with 1/2 cup stout. Let stand on wire rack 30 minutes. Remove from pan; discard parchment and let the cake cool completely.

5. Wrap in a cheesecloth, a thin tea towel or muslin and douse fruitcake with remaining 1/4 cup stout. Store in a cool, dark, dry place (such as a large Tupperware), dousing with 1/4 cup stout once a week for at least 1 month before serving.  Personally, I like to do my last “dousing” about a week prior to serving it, to allow the stout to absorb and the flavors to mellow.

(Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart.)

So it’s a pretty cut-and-dry recipe as you can see, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious!  It’s not sickeningly sweet and slathered in greasy frosting like many holiday cakes are, so this one goes down pretty easily, even after a heavy meal.  With a hot cup of tea or coffee, Guinness Stout cake is the perfect finish to a holiday meal.  So where do you fall in the great fruitcake debate?  Yea or nay?