Irish Guinness Tea Cake

by Kimberley Thompson, Tastemaker in Residence Recipe by -

I adore the long keeping (if one is resolute) tea cakes of Ireland, Scotland and England. Never too sweet...always dense (meaning no tell tale crumb trail!) rich frosting...and richly satisfying! I can cut slices paper thin for an elegant presentation or sturdily thick to eat from my hand.
I have adapted many recipes over the years...this one is one of my favorites to carry to summer picnics. Perfect with lemonade! (And, of course, a good cuppa!)

(Please note: this is one recipe where it is very important that you are using extremely fresh spices.)


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mace
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup butter, cut into cubes
1 cup seedless dark raisins
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup finely chopped candied lemon peel
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 3/4 cups soft brown sugar (dark brown works better)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cups Guinness or other extremely dark  stout
4 large eggs, beaten


  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F / 160° C.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of the cake pan with waxed paper (butter the sides a little to help the wax paper stick), and brush with a little melted butter or margarine.
  3. Sift the flour and spices and half the baking soda together into a large bowl. Mix well until combined. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Add the fruit, lemon rind and sugar, and stir to combine.
  4. Add the beaten egg to the mixture and mix briefly again. Dissolve the remaining baking soda in the Guinness; then add this to the mixture as well and stir until well combined.
  5. Pour (or scrape) the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Then lower the temperature to 300°F, cover the top of the cake loosely with a sheet of waxed paper, and bake for a further 1 1/2 hours.
  6. The cake should be a deep brown color and firm to the touch when finished. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely in its pan before turning it out and peeling off the waxed paper. When it's out, dust the top with confectioners' sugar.
  7. This cake keeps very well in an airtight container for a week or so... if you can manage to keep it around for that long! I use one of those Christmas cookie tins  that we all seem to have somewhere in the house!
  8. Serve it with fresh unsweetened whipped cream.