Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's a Keeper: Irish Whiskey Cake

We're not the type of people who stand strictly on ceremony when it comes to holiday meals. The reality is, we like to change things up a little bit too much to keep on doing that same things over and over again, just because it's "expected". 

However, our annual St. Patrick's Day feast is one day when the menu always looks pretty much the same. There's always corned beef.  And we always serve side dishes featuring cabbage and potatoes. Often there are carrots. We're never without a few bottles of good Irish ale and a nice, dark stout.  And there is ALWAYS Irish Whiskey Cake for dessert.

You're probably wondering why I'm bringing this up now.  "It's April," you're saying to yourself, "Doesn't she realize that St. Patrick's day passed us by almost a month ago?  What kind of food blogger waits a whole month to tell us about a holiday recipe?"

Well, you're not wrong -- an entire month has passed.  But, the Irish Whiskey Cake is fresh in my mind.  In fact, I just ate the last little slice today with a cup of coffee. And it was almost as good as the day we made it. This cake hearkens back to the English pound cakes of old -- dense and buttery, chock full of raisins, with a hint of lemon and a healthy dose of whiskey flavor. Yeah -- it's THAT kind of cake.

The recipe came from an old college friend, who'd clipped the recipe out of an Irish book or magazine years before.  She knew I was interested in cooking, and that my family celebrated St. Patrick's Day, so she gave me a photocopy. Over the years, I've adapted the recipe to our own taste.

The cake only requires a hint of forethought -- and then it's pretty simple to put together.  If you have time, you want to start off by adding the zest of one lemon to about 3 oz. of Irish whiskey and letting it sit overnight.  I also like to soak my raisins in a bit of whiskey, allowing them to plump up a bit.  Everything else is pretty straight-forward, as you'll see.

Cream butter and sugar together until light. Then you add egg yolks, whiskey, and raisins and stir everything together.

Whisk your egg whites until stiff in another bowl, and then fold them into the batter.
Similarly, you'll fold in the flour.  What you should end up with is a nice, fluffy batter with lots of lovely visible air pockets.
Turn the batter into a greased cake pan (or bowl) lined with parchment paper, and bake for about an hour or so.  I bake mine in a stoneware bowl, but an 8 inch round cake pan would do the trick nicely.  A toothpick will come out clean (with moist crumbs clinging to it) when the cake is done.  Turn it out onto a cooling rack, and allow it to sit for about an hour.
When the cake is mostly cooled, you'll want put it on a serving plate and prick it all over with a toothpick or skewer.  Then douse it liberally with some additional Irish whiskey.  This can be repeated every few days if you're storing the cake for an extended period -- although, I wouldn't advocate planning on having leftovers.  This cake usually disappears shortly after it's cool in our house. 

Alternatively, you can glaze the cake with a powdered sugar & whiskey glaze -- which is also quite nice, if you'd like a bit of extra sweetness.

This moist, buttery cake is perfect for St. Patrick's Day.  But, I'd venture a guess that it would do for just about any little occasion.

Irish Whiskey Cake

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  1. I don't think I've ever seen a vanilla whiskey cake before! I'm excited because I am so much more a vanilla than a chocolate person. Looks hearty and delicious.

  2. Ha, the minute I saw the name of the recipe I KNEW it must be good! :) Looks fantastic!

  3. Looks great. Wish I had a fork to dig into that last picture!

  4. I bet that is the perfect coffee break treat. I love that it will last so long, perfect for a house with just two people in it

  5. That looks like an amazing treat at an Alterra with an Irish creme latte. Can you hear my stomach growling for this?

  6. Kat - Helps too that the recipe makes a relatively small cake! Much better for two people than a 9x13 monster cake. :)

  7. Never wait till a holiday for a good recipe. This brings me back to the whiskey soaked cakes my friends and I used to enjoy in college as a sneaky way of getting some booze in!

  8. This is totally my kind of cake! It looks awesome and will certainly be a welcomed addition to my newest holiday celebration - Saint Partick's Day!!!

  9. Whiskey cake you say... hmmm. I think I need some of this right now! It looks amazing.

  10. Cake? Yes! Raisins? Yes! Booze? Yes!! This cake sounds delicious. I don't blame you for thinking about it a month later...

  11. This looks moist! I love the idea of soaking and plumping the raisins in the whisky. Mmmmm :)

  12. Oh yum! At first I thought that maybe I'll try making this cake without the dousing of whiskey at the end because I can't handle my alcohol very well. Two sips of a martini and I'm usually gone... laughing like crazy. But maybe that's not such a bad thing. Will just have to eat it in the evening! ;)


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