When I was in college, I did a summer volunteer project with a good friend of mine in Germany. We were the only two Americans amidst a large group of European teenagers and young adults. It was an eye-opening experience, (in large part because we were helping to restore a portion of the Buchenwald memorial) and we met a lot of really interesting people.
One of those people was a young Irish woman. She was a bit younger than we were, but her life experience was significantly more colorful than ours. We loved hearing her stories of living in Dublin, working in a pub and even attending an occasional Sinn Féin meeting with her older brother. She spoke Irish in her home and we delighted in hearing the strange gutteral yet lilting language roll of her tongue. We romanticized her work in the pub, imagining her pouring hearty pints of Guinness and hefting large trays of the dark foamy brew. When she told us that Bud Light was the most popular beer, our little Irish fantasy was shattered. She explained that her pub was popular with the American Navy boys who came through the port of Dublin, and that they kept Bud Light in stock all the time for them.
Nonetheless, Guinness will always signify Ireland to me. And when and if I ever make it there (and I will. Oh yes, I will) I will go to the St. James Gate Brewery to see where it all started.
Since tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, and I’ve been sorely neglectful thus far in posting recipes related to this historic holiday, I thought I’d share a quick and easy dessert that you can prepare in under 30 minutes. It is in no way traditionally Irish, but it does use the best-selling alcoholic beverage in Ireland (yes, it’s still more popular than Bud Light, despite those sailors in Dublin).
All you need is a can of Guinness, some flour, baking soda, sugar, oil, vinegar and a few spices. I’d say it was vegan, but evidently Guinness isn’t vegan so that rules that out. Oh well, it’s dairy and egg free for those of you who care about such things.
Its super light and moist, given extra lift by the nitrogen bubbles from the draught can. I’m sure you could do this with a bottled stout, but I don’t know if it would have the same results.
The dark color is a result of a combination of things: the Guinness (obviously), whole-wheat flour (I used a fresh ground hard red wheat), sucanat, and cinnamon. Topped with some unsweetened whipped cream, it’s reminiscent of a pint of Guinness with its creamy, foamy head.
This recipe is an adaptation of my favorite Ultra Orange Cake, which I swear can be adapted to almost any flavor combination. I just subbed Guinness for the orange juice and cinnamon and ginger for the orange zest. Otherwise, it’s exactly the same.
For a printable version of the Guinness Spice Cake recipe, click here.
If you’re looking for some easy side dishes to serve tomorrow, I posted a couple here last year: a traditional Irish Soda Bread that takes about 5 minutes put together and 30 minutes to bake; and Champ, creamy whipped potatoes with chives and lots of butter and cream.