My Motto

May the muffin rise to greet you, may your friends be always at your door, and until we meet again, warm a single-malt in the palm of your hand and make something homemade for someone you love.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bourbon Pecan Pound Cake, Three Ways

"Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough."
~Mark Twain
There were lots of things my mother traditionally baked in the weeks before Christmas, and one of them is Bourbon Pound Cake.  I was always intrigued by this off-limits cake that was wrapped up and secreted away to be tended and aged.  I would sneak peeks at it, and it smelled sooo good!  A great treat at Christmas that was worth the wait, even though us kids were only allowed a thin slice.
"Oh holy cow....., this bourbon cake is AWE-some!"
(sung to the tune of "Oh Holy Night")
There are some things to note that are important to your success with this.  Always have your butter, cream cheese and eggs at room temperature before you begin.  If you neglect this step, your cake will lose height (in other words - be a brick).
Pass the pound cake
It is also important to beat the butter and cream cheese together for the full 7 minutes.  There is no other leavening agent in the cake other than the air you beat into the butter and egg whites, so skimping on these steps will really alter the results, trust me!
This versatile recipe can be done three ways; pecan, pineapple-pecan-cherry and coconut-pecan.  The pineapple-pecan-cherry one tastes like pineapple upside-down cake, and is so good.  I've dubbed it Christmas Cake.  It's not your grandma's fruitcake.  If you're not keen on spirits, you can substitute milk for the bourbon and still have a really delicious pound cake that you won't have to wait weeks for.  I made the coconut-pecan one like this for my daughter, and it was great.  A completely different animal, but delicious.  Also, it can be doubled and baked in a tube pan (that's the way my mother always did).  If you do that, make sure you up the baking time to about 1 1/2 hours.  The cake keeps beautifully over the 2-4 weeks that you store it and it also is a great cake to ship to a loved one.  It's sturdy, keeps well, stays moist and just gets better over the course of the month!

Bourbon Pecan Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter (one and a half sticks), softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/3 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a large loaf pan and set aside.

Sift some cake flour onto a plate.  Carefully measure 1and 1/2 cups into a bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, then re-sift that and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with electric mixer for 7 minutes.  SEVEN MINUTES. Scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.  Gradually add sugar, beating constantly, until light and fluffy.
In a small bowl, whisk the 4 egg yolks with the bourbon and almond extract.  With the beaters running, slowly add bourbon mixture to the sugar/butter mixture, pouring a thin stream and beating constantly.  When the eggs are all in, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat 2 more minutes.
In a medium bowl, beat the 4 egg whites until they are glossy and hold stiff peaks.

Sift 1/3 of the flour/salt mixture over the butter/egg mixture.  Gently fold in the flour until it is evenly distributed, but not completely mixed in.  Add half the beaten egg whites and fold in.  
Sift on another 1/3 of flour mixture and fold in, followed by the rest of the beaten egg whites and fold them in.  Sift on the last of the flour mixture and the chopped toasted pecans and fold into batter until it is completely mixed.  It is important to add the pecans (or any add-ins) now, because the coating of flour prevents them from sinking to the bottom while it bakes.

Pour batter into prepared pan and level the top.  Bake until golden brown and a long wooden pick comes out clean, 45-60 minutes, depending on your oven.  Mine needed the full 60 minutes.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out.  When almost cool, brush loaf (or cake) with bourbon, being careful not to soak it, because you don't want it to end up soggy.  Wrap loaf in bourbon dampened cheesecloth, then with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight, then unwrap and again brush loaf heavil with bourbon,  re-wrap loaf with cheesecloth and plastic wrap then wrap with foil and store for 2 weeks (but will keep as many as 4) in a cool, dry place.

Bourbon Pineapple Pecan Cherry Pound Cake (aka Christmas Cake):
During the last step of recipe, when you would add the chopped pecans, also add 3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple and 3/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries.

Bourbon Coconut Pecan Pound Cake:
During last step of recipe, add 1 cup coconut along with the 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans.


Eat it Drink it said...

Love this! I make a bourbon chocolate chip pecan pie that is insane...never thought of trying it as a pound cake, but all over the lightness this has! (By light, I mean texture, not health...)

Can't wait!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Is the pie you mention on your blog? I would love to try it!

Satrupa said...

I wish I was ur neighbor Margaret. I would have sneaked into your kitchen n grabbed some right away. The cake looks awesomely delicious.
Ur cake is on my wish list for Santa .... hope he steals some ur kitchen n brings to mine :D

Have a wonderful festive season with lots of baking :)


CoastalKate said...

I am buying the ingredients and making this tonight. This will help me buck the trend and have a great Monday. ;-)

Margaret, what do you have up your sleeve for a yummy finger food to bring to my office Christmas party? Just can't seem to be inspired. Hoping you have an idea or two.

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Satrupa: Well, that would be fun, wouldn't it? I'd be over your house for goodies, too! Thanks and a blessed season to you and yours as well.

@CoastalKate: Great! Hope you like it as much as we do! As for finger food, there is a pepperoni bread recipe here (in Sept.) that can be sliced and served room temp. and it's always a hit. Other than that, I know they're old fashioned but I always love deviled eggs, and I make 'em HOT. Nothing but Chinese mustard mashed into the yolks. I'll keep thinking and find you on Twitter.

Anna Johnston said...

I love the Irish & their boozy Christmas food.., just love it. This is another awesome addition to some of my fave Irish recipes. Thanks Margaret.

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Anna, that comment cracked me up. You're so right!

I'm Just Saying said...

Geeze now ur KILLIN ME!! I will do without the pineapple brand.. but the rest looks scrumptious!! Girl.. ur on a fast track to making fat people while you take your runs.. ur no friend.. ;-)

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@I'm Just Saying: I KNOW! I'm sorry, I can't help myself!!!

Judy said...

Yumm, looks so delicious. I'm looking for a good pound cake recipe, and maybe this is it!