Chocolate Guinness Cake

This is a Nigella Lawson recipe, from Feast. I was a bit hesitant about it – I don’t like beer, and I think Guinness is quite revolting. And beer and chocolate just sounds wrong. But the boyfriend often has Guinness in the fridge, so I stole one to try this cake. (It was the last one too, much to his irritation.) Nigella says that the cake’s “magnificent in its damp blackness” with a “resonant, ferrous tang”. After looking up “ferrous” (which means ‘of or pertaining to iron’, if you’re similarly ignorant), I have to agree. I’m going to relate Nigella’s cooking temperatures and times here and not what I did, because not only did I ended up cooking the cake in two tins, not having one large enough for the recipe. The icing imitates the foam on a pint of Guinness very successfully – I was very pleased with its looks, and even more so with the taste. A nicely adult chocolate cake.

250ml Guinness
250g butter (1 cup)
75g cocoa (a rounded 1/2 cup)
400g caster sugar (2 cups)
140ml sour cream (
I used plain yoghurt)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
275g plain flour (2 1/4 cups)
2 1/2 teaspoons bicarb soda

for the icing:
300g cream cheese (I used 250g which was plenty)
150g icing sugar (1 cup)
125ml cream

Preheat the oven to 180C, and grease and line (yes! lining is essential) a 23 centimetre springform tin.

Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan, and add the sliced butter. Heat until the butter is melted, and remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla, then pour into the saucepan. Finally, beat in the flour and bicarb.

Pour the batter into the greased and lined tin, and bake for 45 mins to an hour. Leave to get completely cool in the tin, as it’s quite a damp cake.

For the icing, beat the icing sugar and cream cheese together. Add the cream, and beat again until it’s a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake until it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

14 thoughts on “Chocolate Guinness Cake

  1. I have been really wanting to try this. How did it compare to the dense chocolate loaf cake, which we thought was just magnificant. Which did you prefer?

  2. Hmm – I don’t know. They’re very different cakes, and I loved both of them! This one isn’t as moist as the Dense Choc, but it is fairly moist. And it does have that yeasty flavour underneath the chocolate, whereas the Dense Choc I found to be a sweeter chocolate cake (despite the two cups of sugar in this recipe). The one reason I’d choose this over the Dense Choc is it’s such an easy recipe – you just dump everything into a saucepan and whisk it around. There’s no creaming butter and sugar together, and so on. Definitely give it a go – the icing is delicious, and I love the finished look of the cake.

  3. This cake is the most amazing cake I have ever ever ever had the pleasure to eat. It just tastes like nothing you’ve ever eaten before. If I could eat it every day and not get fat I most certainly would.

  4. I used this recipie as my wedding cake ( my husband is Irish!) and it went down a treat…people are still talking about it!

  5. […] The Chocolate Guinness Cake sounds like a novelty cake, but it’s very good indeed. If you don’t die from cardiac arrest while you watch the butter and sugar melt into the Guinness, the you’ll probably live long enough to enjoy this dense and muddy cake (*really* enjoy). I can confirm that the slices pictured here were eaten for breakfast. Recipe here. […]

  6. Hi there

    I would also love to use this as my wedding cake but to also ice it in soft icing. Perhaps serving with a spoonful of the topping, using it more like an accompaniment?

    How do you make sure it’s not too wet to ice, and also as somebody else asked, how do you prevent sinking in the middle?

    I’m hoping to use dowelling to tier the cake – any suggestions or comments?! Any would be greatly appreciated!


  7. Also just had a thought …

    What if I made individual guinness cupcakes and piped the frosting on top? Maybe just make a small guinness cake to use at the top (for cutting) and ice that one in traditional cake icing?

    Any opinions?


  8. Sam, I’m not sure I’d use this as a tiered cake – or at least not without having a trial run first! It is a soft cake. If you were going to ice it all over with soft icing, I would freeze the cake overnight (or for however long, up to a week I suppose), and then icing it while frozen. Then I think it would slowly defrost without disturbing your icing, and you should be able to ice it easily without damaging the cake. Alternatively, the individual cupcakes sound good πŸ™‚

    I recently made a wedding cake, and used thick wooden barbecue skewers through the cakes to support the top tier. I did the freezing thing with those cakes and it worked well – I used the wedding cake recipes from Smitten Kitchen (

  9. Anyone know if you can freeze the whole cake (minus icing)? I am making it for a wedding and will have to ice it and deliver it on the day before the wedding.

  10. Rosemary, I haven’t tried freezing this particular cake but I think it would work well. Just make sure it’s really well wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap. Decorating and putting together cakes while still frozen makes it much easier πŸ™‚

  11. Thanks Celia. Anyone answer the question about avoiding the cake sinking in the middle? Reduce baking powder?

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