A rich chocolate cake infused with Guinness, paired with a Baileys dark chocolate ganache and a Baileys buttercream. This Baileys & Guinness Cake is the perfect grown-up treat.
You know, for someone who doesn’t really drink, I have more than my fair share of boozy desserts.
I love a good, sweet cocktail, but you’ll never catch me with a glass of wine or a beer. My palette just prefers sweet drinks (surprised??) and I generally don’t like the taste of alcohol.
That being said, the flavor of many alcoholic beverages is delicious and lends itself so well to baked goods — especially with this Baileys & Guinness Cake!
Baileys flavored desserts are not new to me. In fact, I think they are far too common on this blog (not that that’s a bad thing).
Guinness though — I think this might be the first time I’ve ever tried it. So what better way to try it than in cake form, right?? I actually took a sip of it after using what I needed in the cake… I think I’ll stick with the boozy desserts.
This Baileys & Guinness Cake is a long time coming. I actually planned to make it last year for St. Paddy’s Day but never got around to it and made a Mint Chocolate Chip Cake instead. Better late than never though, right??
How to Make a Guinness Cake
To make this Guinness Cake, I took my favorite Chocolate Cake recipe and simply swapped out the hot water for hot Guinness. The result worked perfectly.
I also swapped out some of the Dutch-process cocoa powder for black cocoa to intensify the deep, dark color of the cake — trying to emulate the actual color of Guinness. If you don’t have black cocoa though, Dutch-processed or regular cocoa powder will work fine.
Baileys Buttercream & Ganache
Most Guinness Cake recipes you’ll find online pair the cake with a Baileys cream cheese frosting. While that sounds like a perfectly delicious combo, I wanted to do something a little different, so I made a Baileys dark chocolate ganache and Baileys Swiss meringue to go with the cake.
If you don’t want to make both types of frosting, you can do either but see my tips below if you decide to do only one or the other.
I like both in the cake both for a stunning color contrast and for flavor, but either one would be equally delicious on its own.
Be sure to check out my detailed tutorial on How to Make Ganache for tips and troubleshooting.
Something I should note is that this is actually my second version of this cake, because I tried and failed to do a pretty ombre frosting with the ganache and buttercream.
I started with the ganache at the bottom and it totally solidified on the cold cake, which made it impossible to blend in a pretty way. I tried to do something more rustic to compensate, but it just didn’t work, so I redid the whole thing.
Flavor wise, the cake is delicious! Even for someone who doesn’t like beer, I’m a huge fan of this cake. You can taste the beer, but it’s almost more of an after-taste (to me anyhow) and it goes so well with the Baileys frostings.
If you’re a Baileys/Guinness fan or looking for something fun and unique for St. Paddy’s day, this cake is for you!
Looking for more St. Patrick’s Day Recipes?
- Coffee & Baileys Cake
- Baileys Cheesecake Cookie Cups
- Mint Chocolate Chip Cake
- Baileys Chocolate Cupcakes
- Coffee & Baileys Macarons
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I convert this recipe?
- The recipe as-is will also work in two 8″ pans but the layers will be thinner. For three 8″ pans, 1.5x the recipe. Baking time may need to be adjusted.
- To make cupcakes, all you need to do is reduce the baking time — start checking at 15mins or so. The recipe will make 18-24 cupcakes depending on size.
- For other conversions go here.
Can I make it in advance?
- The cooled cake layers can be baked ahead of time, double wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 3 months. Take out 2-3 hours before assembly.
- The frosting can be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for 1 week for frozen for 3 months. Bring to room temperature and rewhip before using.
- The ganache can be made a day or two in advance and kept at room temperature. Place plastic wrap directly on top to prevent a skin from forming. Do not refrigerate as it will get too firm.
- The finished cake (whole or sliced, stored airtight) can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Can I get the measurements by weight/grams?
- There is a Metric option in the recipe card. If you click it it will convert everything to grams.
- This conversion is done automatically and I cannot guarantee the accuracy but many readers have had success using the metric option for this recipe.
What if I don’t have Dutch-process Cocoa Powder?
- I like to use Dutch-process cocoa powder in all of my chocolate recipes, but regular cocoa powder will work just fine. Dutch-process has had some of the acid stripped from it and yields a richer flavor overall. Again, it won’t make or break the recipe to use regular cocoa powder here.
What if I don’t have buttermilk?
- Buttermilk is not optional and cannot be swapped for milk as it will affect the overall result.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own at home by combining 1 cup of milk (whole milk ideally, but I often just use 1%) with 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar and letting it sit for 10mins.
Can I use hot coffee instead of hot water?
- You’ll often see this kind of chocolate cake recipe using hot coffee instead of hot water in the batter, and you can use either.
Tips for making this Baileys & Guinness Cake
- Use the best quality chocolate you can find for the ganache, it makes a huge difference! I use Callebaut.
- If you like, you can skip the buttercream and just use the Baileys ganache between all the layers. The recipe makes enough for the whole cake.
- If you’d like to use the Baileys buttercream instead of ganache, double the buttercream recipe.
- I like to prepare my cake pans using Homemade Cake Release then line with parchment.
- Be sure to check my Swiss Meringue Buttercream and How to Make Ganache posts for tips and troubleshooting.
- Learn how to keep your cakes moist using Simple Syrup.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, check out my How to Bake Flat Cake Layers post!
Baileys & Guinness Cake
Baileys Chocolate Ganache Frosting: (make in advance)
- 20 oz good quality dark chocolate chopped, not bakers chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
Chocolate Guinness Cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder sifted
- 1/4 cup black cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup Guinness hot
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
Baileys Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature, cubed
- 2 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
Baileys Chocolate Ganache Frosting (make in advance):
- Place chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream, Baileys, and butter. Cook over med heat, stirring often until it just barely starts to simmer.
- Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit 5 minutes.
- Stir gently with a spatula until completely smooth. If needed, place over a double boiler and stir until all chocolate has melted.
- Place plastic wrap directly on top of chocolate ganache. Allow to thicken and set overnight.*
Chocolate Guinness Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F, grease three 6″ round baking pans and dust with cocoa powder. Line bottoms with parchment.
- Place flour, sugars, cocoas, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir to combine.
- Place Guinness into a small saucepan and heat until just simmering.
- In a medium bowl whisk buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Temper this mixture with the heated Guinness — pour hot Guinness into the bowl very slowly while whisking egg mixture quickly.
- Add wet ingredients to dry and mix on medium for 2-3 mins. Batter will be very thin.
- Pour evenly into prepared pans. I used a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed.
- Bake until a cake tester comes out mostly clean. A total of 30-35mins.
- Cool 10 minutes in the pans then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Baileys Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.**
- Place bowl over a hot water bath on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot (160F) and no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 3mins).
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.
- Add Baileys and vanilla and whip until smooth.***
- Cut each layer of cake in half horizontally.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving dish. Top with about 1/2 cup buttercream, spread evenly. Repeat with remaining layers alternating buttercream with ganache. Frost and smooth the outside with a thin crumb coat. Chill for at least 20mins until firm and set.****
- Frost the chilled cake with the remaining ganache. It will start to set quicjkly against the cold cake.
- To smooth the top and sides of the cake, use a metal bench scraper and offset spatula that have been run under hot water (wipe them off before use). Keep heating the scraper/spatula and repeat the process until the sides and top are smooth.
- Using the remainder of the buttercream, do a rope border on the top using a Wilton 6B piping tip.
- Decorate bottom with chocolate flakes if desired.
Hi I’m wanting to make this for St. Paddy’s day. I’m expecting a big crowd and would like to double the recipe. Your 2x adjustment doesn’t give a recommended cake tin size. Would a double recipe work with 3 x 8 inch round tins? Thanks 🙂
Hi Murphy! If you double the recipe I would use three 9″ pans. The layers may be slightly thinner so reduce the baking time if needed, but I think that’s the best size to try. It might work in three 8″ but I worry there may be too much batter and they could overflow (don’t fill the pans more than half full — the batter is very thin but rises a LOT). I hope that helps! Let me know how it turns out 🙂
If you make it in 3 9″ pans, do you also double the ganache and buttercream?
Hi Erin! Yes, I would double everything to make sure you have enough.
I’ve made this cake several times and it was perfect. The last time my Swiss meringue buttercream split. My meringue was perfect so I’m wondering if when adding the butter I beat it at to high a speed? Any suggestions?
Hi Karen! Have a read through my detailed tutorial here for tips and troubleshooting 🙂 https://livforcake.com/swiss-meringue-buttercream-recipe/
So pleased with this recipe! I couldn’t find Guinness today (honestly, how does that even happen) so I used a bourbon-barrel stout, Dragon’s Milk. Thick, rich flavors. The cake itself is so fluffy and soft. Also, I used the cocoa powder in the pan trick for the first time today and my life is changed forever. This was my practice round for a weekly work potluck and I’m certain this will be the center of attention. Thank you! 🖤
Hi Kim! I am so happy you loved this one. I hope everyone else does too!
Everyone loved this cake so much at my cousin’s birthday! I made it look like a beer mug and everything. Now they want a half sheet cake of it for another big event. Do you think you can convert the recipie to that size?
Hi Danielle! That sounds so fun, I’m so glad everyone liked it! What size pan exactly are you planning to use? Converting pan sizes is always tricky. Here are some sites I use as a guideline:
Made it for my mother in law’s 70th birthday…
Hands down the best cake I have ever made for taste and look. Requested for ever year for now and forever.
Hi Ray! I’m so thrilled that you both loved it 🙂
If I want to make this using two 8″ square pans, will the recipe work as is or will I need to double it? In the end, I need four 8″ square cakes. My pans are 2″ tall/.
Hi Erin! You would need to increase it or the layers would be too thin. Converting pan sizes is always tricky. Here are some sites I use as a guideline:
Based on that I would recommend doing 1.3x the recipe for two 8″ square pans. You can change the Servings to 16 to get the amounts. That gives some odd numbers (lots of 1/3 or 2/3) so you could just change the Servings to 18 and use those. Be sure not to fill the pans more than half full though as the batter is very thin but rises a lot.
Victoria Auldridge says
You have the best cake recipe. Made the Baileys Guinness cake and it looked just like your picture. And it tasted delicious.
Thank you for the recipes and your comments which are very helpful
Thanks so much, Victoria! I am so happy it worked out well for you and that you found it easy to follow 🙂
I’m comparing this recipe to your Coffee & Baileys Cake that both use Baileys Swiss meringue buttercream. I’m wondering why the ratios of egg white to butter are so different between the two? 4 egg whites, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup butter vs. 3 egg whites, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups butter. Do the ratios make that much of a difference?
Hi Keith! Either one will totally work. I switched it up here so I would still have a similar amount of buttercream but it would be less yellow and buttery (I wanted it more white to contrast). I tend to play around with the ratios but only a bit one way or another or it can really affect the end result.
Does anyone know about how many cupcakes this recipe makes?
Hi Krysta! It should make 18-24 depending on size.
If you don’t have black cocoa powder can you just use more dutch processed cocoa powder?
Hi Stamatina! Yes, that should be fine.
Oh by the way the ganache was fine. I used half the quantity of cream to chocolate e.g – 200g chocolate 100g cream, no butter or Baileys. It was smooth and shiny and just the right consistency after 30 minutes at room temperature.
Perfect, thanks for your tips!
Just made this today for sons birthday. Great recipe that works! Used ordinary butter cream and same weight in butter and icing sugar, so not too sweet. Covered top and sides in buttercream then just sides in ganache. Piped ruffle on top to represent foam. Looked and tasted lovely. Son was very pleased too!
Hi there! So happy you both loved it 🙂
I made this today to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Wow! Absolutely delicious, and so beautiful! My ganache split but I was able to get it back by whisking it over a double boiler for a few minutes. Now we’re sugar crashing on the couch on front of the fireplace! Thanks for yet another great recipe!
Hi Annie-Claude! So happy to hear you loved it. Happy Anniversary!
Brenda Bates says
My brother in law is a big dark beer lover. I made this cake for his 50th birthday party and it was a big hit. I made the taller version and it was a gorgeous cake…it was a bit challenging but well worth it…did I mention delicious!
Hi Brenda! So happy it was a hit. Thanks for the feedback!
Jacqui Lim says
I am planning to make this cake and was wondering if it is ok to use all Bailey’s instead of Guinness Stout?( not a fan of stout)
Thank you in advance.
Hi Jacqui! No, I would just use hot water or hot coffee instead. That’s what I use in my typical chocolate cake recipe.
Can I substitute Irish whiskey in the ganache for Bailey’s to get more of an Irish car bomb effect?
Hi Lisa! Yes, that should work fine.
That’s such an interesting idea! How did it turn out? I’d love to know if I could do the same 🙂
Quick question …. will the ganache go bad if it sits out overnight? I’m concerned because it has cream in it.
Hi Kim! It will be totally fine at room temperature for a couple days.
hi, I will like to ask..it’s pretty hard for me to buy buttermilk as it is often not found at my local bakery stores in my country. By any chance is there a good substitute for it while still taste good and moist like this? thanks a bunch!
Hi GT! You can make your own buttermilk at home! Add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk and let it sit for 10mins.
Would it be good to make chocolate buttercream instead vanilla?
Hi C! If you like I think it would be fine.
hey,great recipe, I want to make this cake and I was wondering if I could use semisweet chocolate instead of dark chocolate or would the cake be too sweet? Also how can i incorporate cream cheese into the buttercream?
Hi Deni! I think that would be fine personally. I don’t think it would be too sweet! This type of buttercream doesn’t work well with cream cheese. I would just make a normal CC buttercream if you want CC in there 🙂
Thank you very much
This helps alot