You are meant to taste the whiskey in this cake! It’s not just an accent flavor, it’s the star of the show. The glaze on this cake is not shy with the liquor. You get honey-kissed, whiskey flavor in every bite.
If you enjoy the slightly boozy flavor of a delicious rum cake, you’ll love this Honey-Kissed Irish Whiskey Cake.
I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again, alcohol amplifies and accentuates flavors. Often I use just a hint of alcohol in a recipe to bring out flavors that are alcohol soluble. You can read more about how alcohol enhances flavor in my post, Simple Syrup, Complex Taste.
For this recipe, the alcohol in the cake is not just a supporting player, it’s the star of the show.
The starting point for this recipe is the Rum Cake recipe from my book, Easy Baking From Scratch. I could’ve just switched out the rum with whiskey and the cake would’ve been delish. But, since I’m always looking to enhance flavor, I added a few ingredients to specifically compliment the Irish Whiskey. (By the way, I use Jameson Whiskey.)
First I added a little lemon zest to the batter. If you’ve ever had a hot toddy to treat a cold you know that lemon goes well with whiskey. I also reduced the sugar in both the cake and the glaze and added a touch of honey. I love what the honey does for the flavor of the cake and, especially, the glaze.
That’s glaze though! Of course I needed to taste the glaze before I put it on the cake. In my head I was pretty sure the flavors would work but, OH MY that’s good stuff.
I will not confirm or deny that I may have downed a few spoonfuls of the glaze before it ever got near the cake. The butter, the honey, the whiskey….it’s like the best hot toddy ever.
To be perfectly honest, if I make this cake again I might even nudge the whisky up to 3/4 of a cup, but it’s really great as it is.
Of course this Irish Whiskey Cake would be the perfect St. Patrick’s Day dessert, but I would eat this cake any day of the week.
For the Cake Batter
- 4 large eggs, plus 2 yolks
- 1/4 cup (1.5 oz, 40g) vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 lemon, grated fine
- 1/3 cup (4oz, 112g) honey
- 1 cup (8 oz, 250ml) buttermilk, divided
- 2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz, 315g) cake flour
- 1 cup (8 oz, 225g) granulated sugar
- 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 1/2 sticks (6 oz, 170g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1" chunks
For the Whiskey Glaze
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 110g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 60 ml) water
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (6oz, 168g) honey
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 120 ml) Irish Whiskey (I use Jameson, see note)
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan or spray with baking spray.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, oil, vanilla, lemon zest, honey and 1/2 of the buttermilk, set aside. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixer bowl. Mix on low speed to combine the dry ingredients.
- Toss the chunks of butter into the flour mixture and add the remaining buttermilk. Mix on medium high for 2-3 minutes to aerate the batter. Scrape the bowl and the beater. With the mixer running, add the egg mix in 3 batches, scraping the bowl between each addition.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
- While the cake bakes, make the glaze. Put the butter, water, sugar and honey in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the whiskey.
- As soon as the cake comes out of the oven and while it's still in the pan, generously brush the cake with some of the glaze. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes to allow the glaze to absorb and for the cake to set. Turn the cake out onto a clean baking sheet.
- Brush the entire top and sides of the cake with glaze, allow the glaze to absorb and repeat brushing until all the glaze is used up. Any glaze that drips onto the pan can be picked up with the brush and brushed back onto the cake.
- Allow the cake to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 1 day to allow the flavors to develop.
You can use as little as 1/4 cup of whiskey for a lighter flavor, or as much as 3/4 cup for a stronger flavor.
You can serve the cake the day it is baked, but the flavor and texture improve after a day or two of aging. The cake will keep at room temperature for 4-5 days.
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