Porter Cake

May 9, 2014 by

When I was a child one of my friends was not allowed to read Enid Blyton. I was an avid reader and I used to lend the books to her surreptitiously. She then read them by torchlight in bed underneath her covers. To this day I never knew why she wasn’t allowed read them. But then she and her siblings were only really allowed to play with us and not the other children living on the road.

Her mother was a big, very grand Donegal woman who could talk for Ireland, lowering her tone when a child was in earshot (usually a very nosy me). Her husband was (I think) a senior civil servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs. I know now she had very influential contacts and she used to entertain at length at home. She was a great cook and her dinner party preparations usually involved a lot of whispering and lowering of tone whilst talking to my mother.

She gave this recipe to my mother years ago and my mother had it stuck in her copy of Full and Plenty. I was always asking mum if I could have it. She eventually gave it to me the other day.

I made the first cake yesterday (pictured above) and now I have wrapped it up in baking parchment and tin foil and it is stored in a tin for a month to mature. For this reason I can’t show a picture of it cut.

I followed the first recipe almost exactly until I got to the dried fruit but I had different fruit and no candied peel. I also used 330ml of Guinness Foreign Extra. Well actually I didn’t even pour it all over the cake, thinking it would make a very soggy cake, so I poured some into me instead.

Lady Iveagh’s Porter Cake Recipe
225g softened butter
225g muscovado sugar
4 eggs
500g mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas, cranberries, raisins, dates and prunes)
100g walnuts
300g flour
330ml bottle of Guinness
1 teaspoon of mixed spice

Cream the butter and sugar well. Add in one egg at a time and a tablespoon of sieved flour to prevent curdling. Stir in the dried fruit, walnuts, spice and 4 tablespoons of the Guinness. Sieve the flour and add it in bit by bit (I use Spelt so you may need more or less). Transfer into a suitable tin lined or greased. I baked it at 130C for 2 hours. Check a skewer comes out clean to make sure it is baked in centre. Allow to cool. And here is the bit that confused me. It says in recipe to pour the remainder of the Guinness over the base of the cooled cake (after skewering a few holes in it). I was sure that this would make a very soggy cake and most of it was running through cake onto my counter top. I decided to pour it in several stages in small amounts and drank the rest. I left it out overnight and next morning it didn’t seem remotely soggy.

I looked up a few recipes for Porter cake and none of them say to do this so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

I couldn’t even wait a month. I can confirm it’s sublime with the taste of Guinness not obliterated by heat but instead infusing the fruit with the most unbelievable tang. This is the way to make a porter cake!

I intend making the Lady Killanin recipe next. But I need a couple of months to mature this one and eat it (being on a diet like).

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