Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Boozy Zenith" Bourbon Pecan Cake: a recipe

bourbon pecan cake

This post has been a long time coming. Three weeks, in fact. Three weeks of marinating in boozy Jack Daniels goodness.

The cake, that is, has been marinating. Not this post. Or me.

I'll start out this saga by noting that this is a recipe I got from my mother and, short of "I think I cut it out of a magazine a long time ago", she has no idea where it came from, only that it was my dad's favorite. So if you think your Great Aunt Tilly invented it or something, I don't want to hear it.

In my childhood home, this was "fruitcake."

Which should have been explained to me better as a child, as I used to tell people that I loved fruitcake. And they all looked at me as if I were bat-shit crazy. I could not understand why so many people hated fruitcake, when it was so amazingly yummy.

Then at some point I tasted a real fruitcake: how amazingly revolting!

But I still have a hard time not calling this fruitcake. When I mentioned a few weeks ago on my Facebook page that I was making fruitcake, I got all sorts of incredulous (and, frankly, kinda rude) comments. So I had to explain.

As I just did again in this post.

Trust me, this is NOT fruitcake; it is just a delicious dessert cake (or breakfast bread, since it doesn't have icing -- you know my rule). Very dense, very rich, very fruity very nutty and, after three weeks of marinating in bourbon-soaked cheesecloth, very boozy. In fact, it takes that long to reach what I have dubbed its "boozy zenith."

Soaking the fruit overnight in bourbon gives it extra zing

Lots of floury pecans

This is a large recipe. I can get at least three full-sized loaves out of it, although I have taken to making two big loaves and a bunch of mini loaves to give as gifts. It really makes the perfect gift.

Mini loaves make great gifts

Just don't tell anyone you're giving them a fruitcake. Tell them it is a special "Boozy Zenith Bourbon Pecan Cake."

(And, yes, I know that Jack Daniels is technically not a "legitimate" bourbon but I don't care, so don't leave any comments to that effect or you will never receive a gift-sized Boozy Zenith Bourbon Pecan Cake from anyone, I will see to it. Fa la la la la.)

Boozy Zenith Bourbon Pecan Cake (origin unknown)

2 cups whole red candied cherries
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups bourbon (I use Jack)
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
8 eggs, separated
5 cups flour
4 cups pecan halves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Combine cherries, raisins and bourbon in large mixing bowl. Cover tightly and let stand in refrigerator overnight. Drain fruits and reserve bourbon.

Place butter in large bowl of electric mixer and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add sugars gradually, beating on medium speed until well blended. Add egg yolks, beating until well blended.

Combine 1/2 cup of the flour with the pecans. Whisk the remaining flour with the baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add 2 cups of the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the reserved bourbon and the remainder of the flour mixture alternately, ending with flour. Beat well after each addition.

Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry; fold gently into cake batter. Add drained fruits and floured pecans to the cake batter. Blend thoroughly.

Grease several full-sized and/or mini loaf pans; line with waxed paper. Grease and lightly flour waxed paper. Pour cake batter into pan within 1/2 inch of the top. Place in 275 degree oven; bake for about 2 hours or until a cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Cool cakes in pans on cake rack 2-3 hours. Remove from pans, peel off waxed paper. Wrap cakes in cheese cloth saturated in bourbon, then wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store in tightly covered container in refrigerator for several weeks, to allow the cakes to reach their BOOZY ZENITH.


  1. I'm not ashamed to admit that I lo-o-ove my mom's fruitcake. The key is in not using any of that citron garbage. Apricots, raisins, dates, dried cranberries, and nuts, in a moist batter and soaked for weeks in brandy--what's not to like? It's those dry, artificial fruitcakes that give the genre a bad name!

  2. Exactly! Your mom's sounds like my mom's, so between us, we'll just keep calling it fruitcake. :-)

  3. Looks delish Jules! I think you need to take "origin unknown" off the recipe and put your mother's name........I am.

  4. How often and how much should I marinade with Bourbon? My mother made this cake every Thanksgiving, but we couldn't eat it till Christmas. Exact same recipe. I want to say she poured a cup of Bourbon over it once a week, but I don't remember.