Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Gilroy Porter Cake from County Derry

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is probably the most Irish of the recipes I'll be featuring this week. Recipes for porter cake abound, but I wanted to share an authentic version of the cake as it was baked in Irish kitchens a hundred years ago. That took a bit of research. This dense fruitcake is made by using a goodly measures of dried fruit and stout and, while in polite society, it is called porter cake, we all know they are talking about a cake made with Guinness, as true a symbol of the Emerald Isle as is the shamrock or the leprechaun. Harder to divine was why this particular version, which comes from the family of Mary Johnson, was dubbed a Gilroy porter cake. I don't give up easily. It took several phone calls to folks more Irish than me to solve the puzzle, but we got it done. John Gilroy was the artist who designed the early advertising campaigns for Guinness and the recipe for this cake was included in one of his campaign designed to convince folks that "Guinness is good for you!" This is a lovely tea cake if it is allowed to age before it is sliced. I recommend it be made at least 48 hours before serving. I'm posting the recipe exactly as I found it on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. That means some conversion and ingredient replacement is in order. I, of course, used butter in place of margarine and pumpkin pie spice instead of the mixed spice called for in the recipe. You'll notice that no specific temperature is given for baking the cake. I assumed a moderate oven ranged from 350 to 375 degrees and decided to bake the cake at the lower temperature. I think the 3 hours suggested in the recipe is too long and next year I'll cut baking time to 2-1/2 hours. The cake is supposed to crack as it bakes so don't stress when it craters. I'd also suggest using a 9-inch pan to contain the batter. I hope that some of you are into vintage recipes and will give this one a try. Here's the recipe.

County Derry Gilroy Porter Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Mary Johnson via the Telegraph Media Group

1 pound plain flour
1 pinch salt
1/2 pound hard margarine
1 lemon- grated rind of
3/4 pounds brown sugar
1/2 pound currants
1/2 pound sultanas
1/4 pound mixed peel
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs-well beaten
1/2 pint of stout (a little less than)

1) Prepare 8 inch cake tin- grease and line.
2) Put fruit and lemon rind in a bowl and mix in a little of the flour.
3) Sieve flour and salt then rub in the margarine until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
4) Add sugar, mixed spice and prepared fruits. Mix well with wooden spoon.
5) Put stout in a jug then place jug in a saucepan of water. Heat stout to blood heat. Add the bicarbonate of soda to warm stout and while fizzing up add to the dry ingredients followed by the well beaten eggs.
6) Beat the mixture by hand with a wooden spoon for 20 minutes (this cake cannot be made with an electric mixer. It must be hand beaten)
7) Put mixture into prepared tin, smooth out the top and bake in preheated oven (moderate oven). After two hours cover cake with brown paper. A used A4 envelope or brown paper bag is ideal. Cook for another hour (3 hours total cooking time). When the cake is ready it will have a crack across the top.
8) Place tin on a wire tray and leave cake in tin until completely cold.Yield: 16 servings.

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Anonymous said...

So appropriate for the upcoming Irish Festivities, which are also here in New Zealnd quite a party! This cake si amazing. I love old recipes

From the Kitchen said...

I've had a similar cake made by English friends. It is delicious with tea. I see you have a vintage pan in which to bake this vintage cake!!


Diane said...

Mmm this looks really good. On my list to make tomorrow. I might make one change and us e dehydrated cherries. Since I have bought my dehydrator I am using my own fruit in cakes and I am delighted with the results. Happy St Patrick's Day Diane

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