the A-Z of irish food with chocolate guinness cake

irish cabbage guinness cake-7
guinness cake-6 irish potatoes

Sadly, my Irish holiday has come to an end.

To commemorate and to say a huge THANKYOU to all the wonderful, hospitable people I met along the way, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned over the last few weeks when it comes to Irish food.

If you ever get a chance to visit the Emerald Isle grab it with both hands.


Apple Cider – a refreshing drink that isn’t too sweet and makes a welcome change from beer.


Bacon – I’m now convinced that Ireland has the best bacon in the world
Butter – a product of all the rain, green grass and happy cows, Irish butter has a wonderfully creamy flavour
Baileys – the popular cream based liqueur often used in desserts such as cheesecake.
Boxty Potato Pancakes – thin potato crepes often served with cabbage & bacon


Cabbage – the Irish love it any way – boiled with bacon, sauteed in butter or even raw shaved in a salad,
Corned Beef – brisket that has been salted then simmered until melting and tender – lovely served with mash or better yet colcannon.
Chips – part of the national obsession with potatoes – apparently a meal is not complete without some chips on the side.


Dublin Coddle – a stew combining tree favourite Irish foods – bacon, sausages & potatoes.


Eggs – usually fired or scrambled – the corner stone of any traditional Irish breakfast.


Farmhouse cheese – wonderfully diverse with everything from fresh curd cheese, to blues, to complex cheddars – perfect for cheese on toast.
Fraughan – the Irish name for wild bilberries that are in season in late Summer.


Guinness – the only source of vitamin G – a meal in itself
Garlic chips & cheese – the perfect thing to counter balance a big session of Vitamin G.
Gratin potatoes – another cornerstone of the potato obsession.


Haddock – a meaty fish that is often smoked and then served poached in milk with onions.


Irish Stew – Ireland’s national dish made with lamb or mutton, onions and potatoes – although it can also contain carrots. Apparently the secret to good Irish stew is to use both waxy and floury potatoes. Watch this space for a recipe.


Jameson – the most famous Irish whiskey


Kale – a curly leafed variety of cabbage that is often mixed with mash to make colcannon but is also lovely on it’s own wilted with a little butter.


Leeks – the key ingredient of Brotchan foltchep – a leek & oatmeal soup


Mash – Irish comfort food, mashed potato can come in many forms from straight up potatoes to Champ (mash with scallions), Colcannon (mash with cabbage) or even fancy mash with things like mustard or Black pudding. The Irish prefer light floury potatoes such as Maris Pipers for their mash.


New Potatoes – also called baby potatoes these are waxy spuds that are at their best in salads.


Oysters – mostly larger varieties served raw with lemon and buttered brown bread.


Potatoes – a national obsession – and the way to an Irishmans heart.
Pudding – pork products that are either black (containing blood) or white (without blood). Delicious for breakfast, they also make a wonderful dinner pan fried and served with mash.
Pints – the preferred serving size for beer, especially Vitamin G.


Quick Bram Brack – a traditional yeasted fruit cake.


Roosters & Records – two quaintly named popular varieties of potatoes.


Spuds – affectionate term for potatoes
Soda Bread – wonderfully rustic bread leavened with baking soda. Can be white but is generally brown.
Sausages – a key part of the traditional Irish breakfast they tend to be pork based and very finely textured.


Tea – the number one non alcoholic beverage. Strong and milky, the perfect hangover cure. Barry’s brand is best.


Uisce beatha – the Irish word for whiskey – literally translates at the ‘water of life’.


Vanilla fudge – a popular homemade sweet treat.
Vitamin G – special nutrient found only in Guinness.


Whiskey – as mentioned under J and U – key ingredient for Irish or Gaelic coffee
White pudding – another breakfast sausage similar to black pudding but without the blood, made with offcuts of pork and bacon and barley or oatmeal. Can also contain offal.


‘xcellent – how one feels after consuming a few pints of Vitamin G.


Yellowman – a toffee like confection.


Zzzzz – also known as sleep – the state induced by over indulging in all of the above.

guinness cake-9

Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake
serves 10-12

I wish I could take credit for inventing this wonderfully damp, luscious cake, but alas it wasn’t even an Irish person. You have to give Nigella credit for knowing a thing or two about good cakes.

One of the best things about this cake is that it looks like a pint of the black stuff with it’s wonderfully black crumb and creamy white topping.

I have made this with a block of dark chocolate chopped and stirred through the batter and it doesn’t really need the extra richness.

While the ingredient list is a little long, this cake is really simple to make, just melt the butter and Guinness together and then stir through the remaining ingredients.

1C Guinness
250g (8 1/2 oz) butter
75g (3oz) cocoa powder
400g (14oz) sugar
1/2 tub sour cream (150mL or 2/3C)
2 eggs
275g (9 1/2oz) flour
2t bicarb soda
for the topping:
450g (1lb) Philidelphia cream cheese, softened
150g (5oz) icing (powdered) sugar
1/2 tub sour cream (150mL or 2/3C)

Preheat oven to 180C or 350F (160C or 300F if fan forced). Line and grease a 24cm (9in) springform cake tin.

Place Guinness and butter in a saucepan and heat until melted. Stir through cocoa powder, sugar, sour cream and eggs until well combined. Add flour and soda and stir until just mixed in.

Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 45mins – 1hour or until the top feels firm and springy and a skewer inserted in comes out clean.

Allow to cool in tin.

Whip together the topping ingredients in a food processor or by hand until smooth. Spread generously over the cake.

guinness cake-2



  • This is the BEST cake ever! Everyone loves it and it is such a crowd pleaser! Ahh – am daydreaming now…

  • This cake sounds really delicious!

    We’re taking a trip to Ireland soon, so I hope to try everything on your list. I’ve never been, but I hear it’s spectacular.



  • Well done on the great cookin Jules, Still enjoying the delicious cake.
    Thank you so much!

  • You left out the famous Irish “chowder” – I’ve had this excellent fish soup last time I was in Galway, it makes for a delicious lunch.

  • Do you reckon that would work cookies style? need to cook the best cookies for an office competition and this would be just amazing.
    Look forward to your advice =)

  • The cake sounds awsome! I love your blog and by saying ‘love’ i totally mean that i’m in love with soupstone’s recipes :) Thanks for sharing and beeng there for us :)

  • love all the irish language – but am not sure that nigella invented the guiness chocolate cake – I am sure I had a recipe for a similar one from before her one was published – though I agree it is a great way to get your guiness shot for the day (as I don’t drink the stuff)

  • you’re right about the cake being a crowd pleaser kate

    lucky you eric – enjoy your trip

    pleasure ger – glad you’re still enjoying the cake.

    laur – thanks for mentioning the chowder – I had some in cork – and loved it as well

    good spotting tresna – I must have been feeling a bit contained only mentioning potatoes 11 times – have had 2 potato free days since I left and am getting withdrawls!

    it’s really more cakey than cookie-ish – you could do it as individual muffins or cupcakes

    egl? thanks so much for your lovely words

    would love it if you could dig out a pre-nigella guinness cake recipe. you’re right it’s such an obvious idea that someone must have thought of it some time

  • I did have a brilliant time mcpixelchick – it’s almost impossible not to have fun with the Irish – although my liver needs a holiday from my holiday ;)

    good spotting rachel – loved fallon & byrne – need more time in dublin

    thanks clea – I’m afraid I haven’t done the cake justice in these photographs – maybe I need to take another photo – then I’ll have to make more cake

  • Jules,
    My sister gave me your book for Christmas – love it!
    Can’t wait to visit Ireland (with above mentioned sister) later this yr with your list in hand! Vitamin G….mmmmm, yummy! That cake looks divine and I think I’ll just pop out for the ingredients now…

  • I made a guiness chocolate cake that I took from the Age newspaper (Melbourne) in the mid 1990s – I think it was part of the chocolate cake series that rita erlich did which became a book that unfortunately I don’t own – having happen to have my copy of nigella’s how to be a domestic goddess beside me which is published in 2000, I am quite sure it is pre-Nigella – you can find it at though it didn’t have the creamy head of icing. Unfortunately I can’t be more precise than that as I took it down many years before blogging or even the internet was part of my life

  • I love your A-Z list!! And you are completely right, Irish bacon is the BEST!! I don’t know how they do it but it is amazing!! Your list brought back many many good memories from my time spent in the Emerald Isle and the Guiness Cake is something I will have to make very soon! It looks delicious and your pictures are beautiful!

  • Brilliant list. Although you forgot one of the most obvious things, a staple in every Irishman’s diet, potato bread! I hope you tried it when you were over, it’s amazing.

    Another bread you forgot was wheaten bread, although you could have mistaken it for soda bread as they are quite similar. And of course there’s the mighty Veda Bread, although I think you may only be able to get this in Northern Ireland. It’s a malt loaf and it’s absolutely delicious.

    Sorry about rambling on about bread,, but we really do love our loaves here in Ireland =]

  • This my favourite cake at the moment (which is since I first made it 9 months ago). I usually use a dark ale instead of a stout as it isn’t as bitter. This is an awesome cake to just whip up when something unexpected comes up … this is my second week in a row of making it at 7am before a busy day and taking it to a function that evening. We also love how the flavour develops over a few days so make it early if you can.

  • No, no Nigella did not invent the ‘Guinness Cake’. I have been making this delicious cake for over 35yrs. There are many versions of it out there. I always get asked for the recipe. If you come from Dublin you make it with Guinness but if you come from Cork you make it with Murphy’s.

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