Victor headed off to Chicago on Monday and I headed off to the grocery store. I had noticed we were low on wine and thought a stop to the state store was in order. We’re not big drinkers but we do use a bit of alcohol in our cooking – from wine in sauces to rum in cakes and cookies. Liquor really can add some interesting flavors and nuances in a dish.

I walked in and noticed a “Made in Pennsylvania” display next to the Italian wines I usually seek out. I started past it when I noticed a potato vodka. Victor is a Chopin Vodka drinker when he’s of a mind, so I grabbed a bottle. What the heck. Then I noticed a Rye. I had recently seen a recipe calling for a rye whiskey – no idea what it was, right now – but I grabbed a bottle, because, well… I might remember what the recipe was… We do pride ourselves on being able to make just about anything at a moment’s notice, after all.

I picked up a few bottles of wine and as I was walking down the aisle, I noticed several single malt Irish whiskies. I had seen a single malt at the Manchester airport and came really close to buying it – and then didn’t. I couldn’t quite justify the price. It’s not like we’re whisky connoisseurs and have tastings at the house after a round of golf at the club. But there I was staring at another bottle. I picked it up. Put it down. Picked it up. Put it down. Picked it up, again. Third time you pick something up you have to buy it. It’s a rule. Into the cart it went.

And then, because I now needed a less-expensive alternative if I was going to make something, I grabbed a bottle of Jim Beam.

A lot of booze for someone who really doesn’t drink.



Fsst-Forward to Thursday. Victor’s coming home. That means a nice dinner and dessert.

The nice dinner became chicken soup and a loaf of bread because he caught a nasty cold. But dessert stayed as planned – a Kentucky Bourbon Cake. I had Kentucky Bourbon. Had to use it.

I have a folder on the computer with hundreds – many hundreds – of recipes I’ve collected over time.


I just get them there and every now and again I get them into their correct sub-folder. Recipes I actually want to make one of these days I keep un-filed. And, lo and behold, there was the bourbon cake recipe!

As with many recipes in this folder, I don’t quite remember where it came from. The folder itself is a remnant of a cook book my old roommate Steve and I were going to write back in the ’70s. It was called the Scraped off the Wall Cook Book and would have been a Best Seller, for sure, if we had every stopped getting high long enough to actually concentrate on it. I had transcribed all the recipes and had them on my computer when it crashed back in the early ’90s and I lost them all. I’ve tried recreating over the years but I just don’t have it in me. Maybe when I finally retire.

But I digress…

The file is dated 11-18-2003 so it’s probably something I found for Thanksgiving that year and never made.

The only change I made was I used 2 tbsp of buttermilk powder and a cup of whole milk when making it instead of the cup of buttermilk. I pretty much never have buttermilk on hand, so buttermilk powder is good to have around.

Kentucky Bourbon Cake

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup bourbon

For the Bourbon Butter Glaze:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour a 10-cup bundt pan or tube cake pan.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy – about 5 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Mix bourbon with buttermilk.

Add dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk and bourbon mixture in 3 additions – starting and ending with the dry. Mix well but don’t overmix.

Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake until cake is golden brown and a pick in the center comes out clean – 45 to 55 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on rack.

Make glaze.

Place butter, sugar, and bourbon in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and stir until everything is syrupy.

With hot cake in pan, poke holes all over with a skewer. Slowly pour about half of the syrup over the cake, stopping to  make sure it’s getting absorbed. For bundt cake: Cool in the pan about 20 minutes and then place on cake dish and brush with remaining glaze. For tube pan: Flip out of pan onto another pan or plate and brush glaze over the bottom of the cake. Let dry about 20 minutes and then flip onto a serving plate and brush the last bit of sauce over the top.

Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

It really came out great!

The cake has a great texture thanks to the buttermilk and cake flour and a nice crunch on the top thanks to the demerara sugar. A really nice full bourbon flavor without being overpoweringly alcoholic. I probably wouldn’t serve it to a 12-Stepper, but your maiden aunt would love it.


This would definitely make a nice holiday gathering treat!

Thanksgiving is coming up. Maybe it will make the cut, this time – a mere 13 years later…