Olivia's Cake. A Happy St. Patrick's Day: Brought to you by the Shannon Princess.

Ray, next to the Shannon Princess.
It's not many newly married couples that go on honeymoon with their family. 
 But no one has ever accused Ray or me of being normal.  

On our honeymoon in Ireland, surrounded by family.

We took a three pronged approach to our Luna de Miel.

Three weeks, Three countries and Three entirely different experiences.

We went to Morocco, just the two of us.


And continued on to Madrid.  
Land of Prado, tapas and a hotel for matadors (where we stayed).

Our third stop was Ireland, where we met with my family.  My mother knew at the time that she had little time left on earth and wanted so much to make this special journey down the Shannon.  
And as marriage is a family union, it felt a natural and lovely choice.

We spent a week on a luxurious barge called the Shannon Princess.  It meandered down the Shannon River, sometimes so close to the banks we could touch it.  We slept on board and jumped off when our hosts, skipper Ruairi,  chef Olivia and their pooch Para Handy, told us it would be particularly auspicious to explore land.

Para Handy, ruling the roost.
Para Handy had ladies at each port and when he jumped off for a date, we followed.  

And we stopped for an entire day when there were fish to be angled.  If I had another profession outside of baking, I'd be a fisherwoman.

I like fish.  Fish like me. So they jump on my hook when they usually aren't biting.  But if I'm not eating them right then and there, I send them back home. 

With my beautiful Mutti and Para Handy.  He's off to meet his date.

The lovely Shannon Princess at dock.

Para Handy decided to join us for a walk on land.

Ruairi Gibbons, our skipper.

Ruairi and Olivia Powers, the magnificent chef.

Mutti, she was the queen of our world.

 View from inside.

Onkel Heinz, my favorite uncle.  Bavarian through and through.  Not a lick of Irish in him but he fit right in.

Raymo with Mutti.  She's wearing my high school rowing jacket.  She was cool like that. 

Aunt Luddy of Birmingham.  I'm pretty sure she was reading a torrid bodice ripper.  GO LUDDY!

On water = happy.

Helga and her sisters, Tante Christel & Tante Erika.

And Olivia fed us.  She cooked and baked in the ship's well fitted galley kitchen.  She made breakfast, lunch and dinner for us... and dessert besides.  She spun magic from her small space, meals more beautiful than those that have come from 5 star kitchens.  I remember her food still.

So I wrote Olivia and Ruairi on the eve of St. Patrick's day and asked if she had a recipe that I might share.  And within minutes she replied with a beauty.  

So this is what I think of when St. Patrick's day is upon us:  a trip to Ireland when I was first married.  The joy of spending time with my family, my beloved mother, and my wonderful husband in a beautiful place and on a beautiful boat.  

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Sweet People!


This is Olivia's recipe, as she sent it to me.  I'll make American conversions and notes in red where they are really needed but otherwise, I recommend you scale out the measurements as dictated in grams and ml.

Guinness Cake

A delicious treat anytime.
This is a firm favourite with Guests & Crew alike.
It can also be served as Guinness Cupcakes.

200g cream flour (Gesine's Note:  I had to ask Dan Lepard, famed UK Master Baker, what Cream Flour was as it isn't an ingredient found in the US and rather rare outside of Ireland.  He recommended using Pastry or Cake flour in the same percentage as in the recipe but with the addition of a small bit of leavening which I've added to the leavening part of the recipe below.  I have to thank him profusely for the quick response.  And I can't tell you how tickled I am to have learned of a new flour).
250 g unrefined sugar (Gesine's note:  I used granulated sugar)
1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (Gesine's note:  Baking soda!  That's what this is.  And add an extra 1/4 teaspoon of it because we don't have Cream Flour in the states.  So for those tuned in, you are adding 3/4 of a teaspoon of Baking Soda in U.S. measure)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 large egg
125gr butter (Gesine's note:  this ends up being exactly 1 stick + 1 tablespoon, i.e. 9 tablespoons UNSALTED butter)
150 ml natural yogurt or butter milk (Gesine's note:  I used non-fat buttermilk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
3 tablespoons cocoa (Gesine's note:  use natural cocoa NOT Dutch process.  The alkaline process of Dutching can ruin the efficacy of baking soda).
150 ml of Guinness

Preheat your oven to 180 Cg/gas mark 4. (Gesine's note:  350º F)
Prepare your cake tin by lining with parchment paper.  (Gesine's note:  I sprayed a bundt pan with baker's non-stick spray).  
In a large mixing bowl sieve all the dry ingredients together.
Then lightly whisk the egg, vanilla & buttermilk/or yogurt in a jug.
Next melt the butter, cocoa & the Guinness in a saucepan,
When it is just melted stir it smooth making sure there are no lumps.
Now mix all ingredients together, pour into the prepared tin & bake for approx 45 minutes or when a tester comes out clean.
Let to stand for 30 minutes before unmolding from its tin.
Turn out & cool on a wire rack.

To serve.
Dust with cocoa & serve with softly whipped cream
Or ice with a chocolate butter cream. 

Guinness Cake with Guinness Caramel Sauce

Gesine's note:  I made a Guinness caramel to serve with the cake, which is moist and fabulous.  The batter might seem thin when you start but go with it.  It bakes up beautifully.  

I took 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water and a hearty pinch of salt and combined in a heavy saucepan.  Stir over low heat until the sugar is melted.  Turn to medium and cook until the sugar turn amber.  Take from the heat and immediately add 1/4 cup of Guinness and a 1/4 cup of heavy cream to the caramel.  The caramel will bubble.  Just hang back until it simmers down.  Return to low heat and stir until the clumped caramel melts and heat to 220º on a candy thermometer.  Cool to room temperature.

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