filling the empty nest with food

Soused Porter Cake

Porter Cake ingredientsGiven that it was just St. Patrick’s Day and there were extra cans and bottles of Guinness lying around the house, (Well, doesn’t that happen at your house?) I wanted to find a creative way to consume them. Opening the can and pouring into a glass not qualifying as “creative.”  Tasty, yes.

I’d already tried, and loved, the Gramercy Tavern’s gingerbread that includes some Guinness or other stout.  (Have you tried that one yet?)  So, when I came across this recipe for Porter Cake, it called to me.

Sadly, the cake didn’t live up to its promise to be rich and moist. Rich it was, but moist it definitely was not.  So, since I was in the mood of adding alcohol to my baking,  I was reminded of a recipe of M.F.K. Fisher’s (a great food writer from the heyday of food writing when food writers often drank heavily and wrote unabashedly about it.  Does anyone besides my mom remember the cookbooks of the late 1940’s by Morrison Wood where every recipe had some alcohol in it?).

M.F.K. Fisher’s recipe is called “Rum Toddy for a Cake.”  A simple mixture of heated orange juice, brown sugar, and dark rum.  Pour the warmed elixir over the cake hot out of the oven, and let the orange-y rum goodness transform this cake into something magically rich and moist.  Now it lives up to its promise!  Cake can be enjoyed with another of those cans of Guinness or an extra rum toddy.


Porter Cake (from Rachel’s Irish Family Food)

  • 3 1/2 cups (450g) all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I made my own of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, allspice)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (225g) butter
  • 1 cup packed (225g) light brown sugar
  • 1 pound (450g) golden raisins (sultanas) or raisins or a mixture of both
  • 3 ounces (75g) chopped candied peel, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (12-ounce/330ml) bottle porter or stout

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas mark 4). Line the sides and bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) high-sided round cake pan (the sides should be about 2 3/4 inches/7 cm high) with waxed (greaseproof) paper. (I used an angel food cake pan and it worked like a charm.)

Sift the flour, nutmeg, spice, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter, then stir in the brown sugar, raisins, and candied peel.

Whisk the eggs in another bowl and add the porter. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 2 hours. If the cake starts to brown too quickly on top, cover it with aluminum foil or waxed (greaseproof) paper after about 1 hour. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to sit in the pan for about 20 minutes before turning it out and cooling it on a wire rack.

M.F.K.Fisher’s Rum Toddy for a Cake

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup orange juice

1/3 cup dark rum

Dissolve sugar in orange juice over low heat. Remove from heat, add rum, pour slowly over hot cake.  Let cake stand until cool.

2 comments on “Soused Porter Cake

  1. Sarah
    March 22, 2013

    Catherine, not sure if I’d try this cake, but what else might you suggest suing as a base for the rum toddy?

    • Catherine
      March 25, 2013

      Good question. I usually think of cakes as a base, such as a store-bought pound cake if you’re looking for an easy dessert. But I bet it would also be delicious on waffles or over a pork roast or chicken or basted on a ham. Let me know if you try one of these and how it turns out!

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This entry was posted on March 21, 2013 by in Desserts, Recipes and tagged , , , , , .

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