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Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake

Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake (Source: Maida Heatter's Cakes (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 2011 ed., pg. 157).

One of the best cakes I made during the holidays was this one. I had my doubts at first - I had never heard of wrapping a cake in a bourbon-soaked handkerchief before - but since starting this blog almost ten years ago (!), I am still coming across unusual techniques in Maida's recipes.

I first saw this recipe in Maida Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts and in that book, it fails to give the baking time. It is reprinted in Maida Heatter's Cakes which does - it is 300 degrees. There is also a "Kentucky Cake" as well as several whiskey cakes so it gets a bit confusing - this is the Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake.

I used both dark and golden raisins and I soaked them in the bourbon one day in advance. She says to use a jar with a tight lid but I just put them in a bowl wrapped in plastic. You can also soak the raisins up to one week in advance. 

This is a cake to think about ahead of time - in addition to soaking the raisins, it needs to sit for a few days after it is finished.

4 1/2 cups dark and light (or all dark) raisins
1 cup bourbon
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tsp. powdered nutmeg (or 1 fresh nutmeg)
2 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs, separated
5 cups pecan halves

Soak the raisins in the bourbon  a day (or week) before baking the cake.

Preheat the oven to 300. Use a 10x4 inch tub pan (either a one-piece or two-piece pan is fine). Butter or spray the pan and line the bottom with parchment - butter it as well and dust with fine bread crumbs.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and 1/4 tsp. of salt and set aside.

Beat the butter until softened and add the nutmeg and 1 3/4 cup of sugar (reserving 1/4). Beat for 5 minutes until creamy. Add the egg yolks and beat for a few minutes. 

Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients, beating only until mixed. 

Mix in half of the raisins and the bourbon that was not absorbed. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the remaining raisins and the remaining dry ingredients until mixed.

Stir in the nuts.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the reserved 1/4 tsp. of salt until the hold a shape. Add the remaining sugar and beat on high speed until stiff peaks are achieved.

Fold in 1/4 of the whites with a large spatula. Fold in the remaining whites.

Transfer the batter to the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 2 1/2 hours but begin checking with a tester around the 2 hour mark. If the cake begins to darken too much during the last hour of baking, cover loosely with foil.

Remove from the oven and let it stand for 30 minutes. Invert it on a wire rack and let it cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few days or freeze. You can also wrap it in a napkin that has been soaked with bourbon or stuff a piece of cheesecloth in the center hole, wrap in plastic wrap, and let it age at room temperature.


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