Is My Blog Burning no. 3: Irish Stout Cake with Whiskey-Sour Icing

Irish Stout Cake with whiskey-sour icing

As soon as Renee announced that the theme for the third Is My Blog Burning event was to be Cakewalk, this cake came to mind. I think part of the reason is because it just looks sensational. The cake crumb is almost pure black, with hints of the red that's in cacao. The flavor is also dark, slightly bitter yet sweet, from the stout and the unsweetened pure cocoa powder. Amazingly enough though, the texture of the crumb itself is quite light.

I also knew I wanted something to contrast with that black on top. I considered buttercream frosting and cream cheese frosting, but then I thought of plain icing made with icing (powdered) sugar, flavored with lemon. Since the cake is made from Irish stout, by a natural process of association I wondered how a hint of whiskey would work in the icing. Those are the flavors in a whiskey sour after all. It works, indeed.

I originally saw Gary Rhodes making the Irish stout cake on TV. I have modified his original recipe, adding more cocoa powder to up the bitterness. The icing is my addition - he served his version with a whiskey-flavored zabaglione (warm frothy custard sauce). The cake is also nice just unadorned. And if you have leftovers, the black crumbs make a sensational garnish for ice cream sundaes and such.

Note: this is definitely a cake for adults, but you can make it kid-friendly by omitting the whiskey from the icing. The cake itself has no alcohol in it since all of the alcohol in the stout would have dissipated.

Irish Stout Cake with Whiskey-Sour Icing

For the cake:

  • 225g / 8 oz butter
  • 360g / 12 oz brown sugar (use the light brown kind if you are in the U.S.)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 150g / 5 oz pure cocoa powder
  • 400ml / 1 2/3rd cup of stout (I used Guinness Foreign Extra Stout)
  • 225g / 8 oz all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat the oven to 180° C / 350° F. Butter a 9 x 9 inch / 25 cm square cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter and flour the insides of the pan.

Cream together the sugar and butter. (The best way to do this really is with your hands.) Add the eggs and the cocoa powder, mixing well. Add the stout a little at a time (it will foam up quite a bit). Blend well.

Add the sifted flour and the baking powder and baking soda. Mix well. Pour into the pan no more than 2/3rds full. (If you have a smaller pan, put the extra batter into small cake pans, and put in the oven with about 15 minutes to go in the baking.)

Bake for about an hour, until a skewer stuck in the cake about 3 cm / 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. Let cool before putting on the icing.

For the icing:

  • 225g / 8 oz icing (powdered) sugar
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs single malt Irish whiskey (you can substitute Scotch...though that wouldn't make it as Irish I guess)
  • Water

Mix the lemon juice and the whiskey in the icing sugar - a small whisk is the most usefuil implement for this. If necessary, slowly add a bit of water to the icing, a drop at a time, until you have a thick, smooth paste. Spread this on top of the cake, and let set before cutting it up, into as many or few squares as you feel like.


That's a brilliant colour contrast, Maki, and the flavours sound great. Just out of interest, why do you think it's best to cream butter and sugar by hand? I have to admit the last time I tried that my biceps gave out before it was properly creamed. I'm in love with my electric mixer.

this sounds delicious!!! perhaps a new St. Pat's Day Tradition .... of course, I will be needing to test the recipe again, and again throughout the year!

I echo that... gorgeous color contrast... and what a wonderful taste combination. the cake crumb looks so wonderfully moist and light. beautiful!
definitely trying this one out sometime : )

Meg, I actually meant creaming literally with your hands, not using any tools at all - smooshing and squeezing the butter and sugar together. Your hands smell wonderful afterwards too. :P (your "impeccably clean hands" (paraphrasing Julia Child) of course)

This looks wonderful, Maki! I've never had a Whisky Sour, so I've never come across this particular flavour combination. I do love Guiness though...

Maki, the cake looks fantastic! I love the icing additon: it makes it even look like a pint of guinness!'re after my (1/4) Irish heart with this cake, that's for sure.

Maki, this cake is PERFECT for my brother -- I honestly would never have thought to use Guinness in a cake, but he is going to die when I make it for him sometime soon.

I see, that's a much more appealing method, Maki! I do wonder how much would actually make it into the cake though, if I had butter and sugar smeared all over my hands. Such temptation to lick a finger or two - not that I would do that when cooking for company of course!!

Meg, I never lick my fingers, i don't. hehe.

Jennifer, the cake is really easy to make too. I'm sure your brother will love it.

This is a wonderful cake. I made it last night and it was a big hit with my coworkers. I used blood orange juice instead of lemon juice and it made a wonderful pink icing.

I recently tried this cake at the Bantry Bay House, in Ireland. Delicious cake and the icing is to die for. Am thrilled I found the recipe. Thanks!

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Pots de cr

I tried making this last night as large cupcakes in a muffin pan. They are easy & fantastic! The whisky icing really brings it together. A few of these and I can get slightly drunk and get a sugar high too. Woohoo!

Why didn't I try this as cupcakes before? Great can really load up on that whiskey, I mean,icing! :)

Hi Maki,

I wanted to see if it would be possible to feature the Irish Stout Cake recipe and your blog on

I would create a post similar to this one:

and include a bio/photo and link to your blog. Please let me know if that would be ok!



Sure, you have my permission to do so. Please use the bio info on my About page and the photo there. If you could state somewhere on the page that the recipe was used with my permission (so that other people who want to 'borrow' recipes don't get confused) that would be great.

I just made this cake exactly as you described and the cakefrosting turned out fantastic, but the frosting ended up more like a glaze. Any suggestions on how to make it thicker?

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