Fans Adore Ina Garten's Honey Bourbon Cake—and Swear It Tastes Even Better the Next Day
Have you or your holiday dining companions already had your fill of gingerbread, sugar cut-out cookies and thumbprint cookies? Well our culinary icon Ina Garten says we should let them eat cake…coffee- and bourbon-spiked cake, that is.
This standout dessert caught our eye on an episode of Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro called "Tipsy Desserts" that aired this weekend. The beautiful cake recipe was also published in Garten's 2016 cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (buy it: $26.74, Amazon).
And the Honey Bourbon Cake is not just about those caffeinated and boozy boosts, one Food Network fan says alongside a five-star review: "I am a BIG fan of spice cakes, which I feel this really is. IT WAS WONDERFUL."
"It's kind of a classic Jewish holiday thing, but it's way too good to save for just the holidays," Garten says at the beginning of her how-to segment on the episode, as she unscrews to cap of her "good bourbon" of choice for this recipe, Maker's Mark (buy it: $31 for 750 milliliters, Drizly). Not a huge fan of brown spirits? Don't immediately write off this recipe…"There are so many layers of flavor in here that the bourbon just adds a warmth of flavor that's really nice," Garten says.
In addition to ¼ cup of bourbon, the cake batter begins with ½ cup of freshly-squeezed orange juice and 1 cup hot coffee. (Garten suggests making extra java so you can drink some while you prep the cake. You don't have to tell us twice, Ina!)
In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup vegetable oil, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar and 1 cup of honey.
"It's a lot. I guess it is called honey cake for a reason, right?" Garten asks. "If I put it in the measuring cup that the oil was in, it will come out really easily." (We love the pro tip!)
Next add three extra-large eggs at room temp (psst…here's why that matters), 2 teaspoons grated orange zest and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (Garten swears by Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract; buy it: $19.95 for 4 ounces, Amazon). Mix all of those wet ingredients for about 1 minute, or until well incorporated.
Then it's time to focus on the dry portion of the cake batter. In a large bowl, add 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon each of ground cloves, ground allspice and ground ginger.
"Add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients [she's referring to the bourbon blend] in thirds," Garten suggests, as she shakes a portion of the flour mixture into the oil, egg and sugar combo stirring in her stand mixer. "If you add them all at once, you'll either have too dry or too wet of batter."
Transfer the evenly mixed batter into a 9-inch tube pan with a non-removable bottom (like this Nordic Ware Cast Aluminum Pound Cake Pan; buy it: $39.95, Williams Sonoma) that's been coated with oil, parchment paper, oil again and, lastly, a dusting of flour.
"My philosophy is that there's no point in baking something if you can't get it out of the pan," Garten says.
Tap the pan about five times on the counter to remove any potential air bubbles in the batter, and crown the cake with ½ cup blanched sliced almonds. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before unmolding, then serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream.
"Do I have a tough job or what?!" Garten smiles, as she looks at the camera and prepares her fork to dig into a trial bite.
You have the best job, Ina, and from the sounds of the fan reviews, the day after filming was even more glorious.
"Letting it sit overnight makes a remarkable difference. It now has a personality of its own," one fan says. Another adds that "this is one of those cakes that will taste even better the second day as the flavors of the spices and bourbon infuse the cake."
If you're feeling inspired to add this make-ahead cake to your holiday menu, find Ina Garten's Honey Bourbon Cake recipe here. And for more spirited sweets, check out our 21 best boozy desserts that pack a punch of flavor in every bite.