Guinness Boiled Cake

Inspired by Viva Afro Caribbean Food Store

It might not seem like it at first glance, but Ireland and Nigeria have something in common. Both countries love Guinness. Some say the black stuff doesn’t taste right unless it’s brewed in Dublin, but I’m not sure they’ve tasted export Guinness brewed in Nigeria. Foreign Extra Stout, to give its full title, packs a stronger and more hoppy flavour at 7.5%. Like alcoholic treacle it makes fruit cake something special.

My granny would never have seen a bottle of the export Guinness in rural Ireland and I’m not sure she’d have approved of the strength of it, but she did know a good cake when she saw one. This is her recipe for boiled cake where the fruit is literally boiled in liquid to make it dark, sticky and moist. Traditional in Northern Ireland, this cake is quick to make but lasts well so you always have some when people drop in.


  • 350 g raisins (or mixed dried fruit of your choice)
  • 175 g sugar
  • 115 g butter
  • 250 ml Guinness Foreign Extra Stout
  • 350 g plain flour
  • teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 23 cm wide, 7cm deep spring form cake tin


Put the dried fruit, sugar, butter and Guinness in a saucepan and boil for 20 minutes. This plumps up the fruit and infuses it with flavour.

Grease your cake tin well with butter. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Sift the flour in a large bowl and add the bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice. Stir in the boiled fruit and any remaining liquid. Add in the beaten egg and stir until just combined. It will come together like a dough rather than a batter. Put into your tin and smooth the top down.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Check the cake at this stage with a skewer. If it comes out slightly sticky, it needs more time. However, I find the dried fruit on top starts to burn slightly at this stage, so I reduce the heat to 170°C and give it another 15 minutes.

Cool the cake on a rack and serve in slices with a strong cuppa. It will keep in a tin for several weeks and actually improves with age as it gets softer and stickier.