Irish Whiskey Cake with Walnuts and Raisins
We used to sell this hearty cake chock full of raisins and nuts at the Commissary restaurant. It will cut better if you make it a day or two before you plan to serve it. Since it’s glazed instead of frosted, a whole cake wrapped in plastic wrap and tied with a ribbon makes a grand present. You will need an Angel Food tube pan.
make ahead Cake can be made up to three days ahead and stored, well-wrapped, at room temperature. It can also be frozen for up to a month.
1 pound walnuts, coarsely broken
1 pound golden raisins
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup Irish whiskey
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 cup Irish whiskey, divided
1 Grease and flour a 10-inch angel food tube pan. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 275°.
2 In a large bowl, combine walnuts, raisins and flour and toss them together. Using a mixer, cream butter, sugar, egg yolks, salt, baking soda and whiskey until fluffy. Pour this mixture into the nut mixture and mix to combine. Wash the mixer and the beaters in hot soapy water before the next step because the egg whites won’t expand well if there is grease on the bowl or beaters.
3 Put egg whites into the clean bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Add a third of the egg whites into the cake batter and stir to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour and then cover the top with foil so it won’t brown too much while it continues baking for another hour or so. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, but it shouldn’t be wet. This time may vary some, depending on your oven. Let the cake cool completely before glazing and unmolding it.
4 To make the glaze, combine sugar, water and ½ cup whiskey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Cool to the temperature of bath water and add the remaining whiskey.
5 Leaving the cake in its pan, use a pastry brush to brush the top of the cake with the glaze. Let it soak in for a few minutes and brush on another layer.
6 Loosen the sides of the cake by running a long spatula or knife around the edges, including the center hole. Invert cake onto a serving dish and apply the remaining glaze to the top and sides of the cake. This may take 10 minutes or so because the cake won’t absorb the glaze all at once. Wrap the cake securely in plastic and let it stand in the refrigerator or at room temperature for a day or two before serving.
Variations For a chocolate variation, substitute ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa for ¾ cup flour. You can also make a rum cake with pecans and apricots, for example, by substituting pecans for walnuts, dried apricots for all or part of the raisins, and dark rum for the whiskey.