St. Patrick's Day Recipe: Guinness Cake

I use almost any holiday as an excuse to celebrate, and St. Patrick's Day is no exception. If you know my full name (Joanna Shawn Brigid O'Leary) it's clear that I was born with a shillelagh in my mouth. My Irish heritage compels me to mark the feast day of Ireland's patron saint (one of three actually) by cooking authentic Irish (American) dishes and drinking Guinness.

For the past 15 years or so, I've made a Guinness cake that I've enjoyed with some libations with friends and family (except in 2005, when I accidentally used salt instead of sugar and almost induced a stroke in my then-boyfriend-now-husband).

My Guinness cake, as the name might imply, does contain Guinness, but it's more obvious connection to Ireland's national drink is its appearance: The finished product resembles a tall dark pint of beer with a sizable frothy head.

Over the years I've refined my recipe, and here's the version I'll be using in preparation for March 17, 2014.

This article continues on the next page.

Guinness Cake


  • 1 cup Guinness stout
  • 10 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups fine sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" spring-form pan with butter. Line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Heat over medium-low until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and sugar; whisk to blend.
  3. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture.
  4. Add flour and baking soda and whisk again until smooth.
  5. Pour into greased pan. Bake until risen and firm (45-60 minutes).


  • 1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Mix confectioners' sugar to break up lumps. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth.
  2. Add heavy cream and mix until easily spreadable.
  3. Ice top of cake so it resembles frothy pint of Guinness.

For the sake of full disclosure, I will tell you that there have been a few years in which I've been so zealous about the icing that I've doubled the ingredients and covered the whole friggin' cake in the stuff. But that gesture obviously ruins the effect and reveals one's frosting addiction.

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