On the east coast of Canada, where I am from, we make this cake with rum – not whiskey. We often refer to it as Jamaican butter cake - my province was a seafaring one and sailors would often embark on journeys which would end up in the Caribbean. It's little wonder we enjoy rum a bit more than we should – it was likely one of our first imports!
This dense, buttery cake is so good. Alcohol, sugar and butter just go so well together. That said, if you're a non-drinker or have little mouths looking for some cake, this recipe is just as good without the whiskey (I would simply swap the whiskey in the batter with extra buttermilk and substitute cream when making the sauce).
There are a few steps to making the batter – whipping the egg whites makes for a light, airy texture. Make sure you whip the egg, sugar and butter mixture for at least five minutes, until completely pale and ribbony in consistency.
320g plain flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
300g caster sugar, plus 25g for whipping egg whites, plus extra for dusting the bundt pan
150g butter, melted
125ml Irish whiskey
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla
6 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites
For the whiskey butter sauce:
125g butter, cubed
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
50ml Irish whiskey
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Liberally spray a large bundt pan (this can also be done as a traybake, if you don't have a bundt pan, but the baking time will be affected) with baking spray and then coat the inside of the pan with caster sugar. Set aside.
2. Make the batter: in a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Divide the eggs. Place the three egg whites into a mixing bowl and mix on high, until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 25g of caster sugar and continue to beat the eggs whites until stiff peaks form.
4. In another mixing bowl, combine the remaining caster sugar and butter. Mix on high until pale and fluffy - about a minute - and then add the egg yolks. Mix for at least five minutes, until pale yellow and ribbony in consistency.
5. Add the oil, vanilla, whiskey and buttermilk to the egg mixture and mix to combine.
6. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture all at once. Using hand mixers or a stand mixer, beat until the batter comes together to a smooth consistency.
7. Gently fold in the egg whites to the batter. First, take a third of the egg whites and mix in as normal. Then, add the remaining egg whites and gently fold to incorporate (gently so as not to pop the air bubbles).
8. Add the batter to the prepared bundt tin and bake in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes, checking the cake after 40 minutes. When a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean; it's done.
9. Make the whiskey butter sauce: combine the sauce ingredients (except for the whiskey) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for around five minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the whiskey (carefully; it will splatter). Cool slightly.
10. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the tin for about 15 minutes. Poke holes throughout the bottom of the cake and pour half the whiskey butter sauce directly over. The cake will absorb most of this.
11 After about 20 minutes, gently remove the cake from the tin directly on to a cake stand or serving dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the top.
*This cake gets better with age. Keep it covered, at room temperature, for up to a week.