The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.55
WINTER2017

Beer cake.

According to Grace Firth, her recipe from Stillroom Cookery‘s “hair of the dog that bit you” and “a fine way to set things straight in the morning,” but do not limit consumption to the early hours. Firth does not specify any style of beer but porter is the British classic for cakes. Two loafish cakes.


  • beer-stoneface-porter.jpg1¼ cups beer – Porters work well - warmed to 155˚
  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • heaped ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • a lightly beaten egg
  • juice and zest of a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • 3 Tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cup light brown or Demerara sugar
  • more oil for brushing the cakes before baking

  1. Add the yeast to the beer and wait until it becomes active (you will see the fizzing)
  2. Add everything else to the yeasted beer
  3. Mix the dough with the hook of your countertop KitchenAid mixer until it coheres unless, unaccountably, you do not have one. Then work the dough by hand on a floured board until it is no longer unwieldy, usually in about 10 minutes.
  4. Split the dough into 2 loaves, place them on an oven sheet lined with parchment paper, cut 4 diagonal slashes in each loaf, cover them with a dishtowel and let them rise over a pan of warm water until they double in size.

Preheat the oven to 425˚.

  1. Brush each loaf with oil and bake them until lightly browned, usually in about 20 minutes.

 

Notes:

-Firth omits the mace in favor of ½ teaspoon of cinnamon alone, but mace is such a fixture of traditional British baking that we could not bear to exclude it from our version of the cake. For that matter the citrus notes are British too.

-Firth also uses white instead of brown sugar.

-If you dislike porter. Guinness is equally good, while lagers, pilsners and pale ales are lesser options.

-Firth broils a busy topping of more beer, butter, vanilla, brown sugar, coconut and quick oats atop the cakes after they leave the oven, but we prefer them nude.