… No Bead Throwing – But So Deserving!
I LOVE cookbooks with beautiful pictures! Anytime someone wants to buy a gift for me and know that it will be a hit, though I’m always grateful for gifts, give me a cookbook. A few weeks ago, I was ogling a particular cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten, in a store and was just about to drool on the pages of exquisitely styled photographs, when my husband whispers in my ear, “Would you like to bring that home with you?” Oh, the chills of delight … I can’t say more.
Once home and alone with just this book and hours to spend without interruption, I started strolling through the pages, scouring over every story and detail Ina shares. Three hours, and two cups of tea later, I’d only made my way through the desserts. Oh, what a glorious afternoon.
In my delight, I discovered Ina’s recipe for Bourbon Honey Cake. I knew I had to make it – especially for Mr. DailyForage – since he absolutely loves alcohol-infused cakes, and he was the one who suggested I fulfill my desire for yet another cookbook. So with the inspiration of Ina’s Bourbon Honey Cake, my version was born. I hope, should she ever learn what I’ve done, I make her proud.
This cake is bold with robust flavors of allspice, cloves, and ginger. Though there is an ample amount of cinnamon included, which is much needed, the warm cinnamon flavor takes a back seat to the other spices. This pairing combined with the honey, coffee, and bourbon create a moist, richness that parallels molasses.
I was surprised that the flavor of the bourbon wasn’t most forefront, which turned out to be just fine. There are notes of a good whiskey, but not as with some alcohol-infused cakes that nearly cause a high just sniffing them. It’s smooth in the hootch department. To maintain this civility, I highly recommend using good-quality bourbon.
Orange, coffee, and almond play significant, yet supporting, roles here. I made sure to use a strong flavored, decaffeinated coffee, so as not to be seeing every hour on the clock while all others are peacefully sleeping. It worked perfectly … I slept like a baby with sugar plums bourbon cake dancing in my head.
To achieve a perfect crumb and correct moisture balance, I used my own flour blend instead of a single, superfine brown rice flour (which has been my go-to for nearly all my baking needs the past few years). This blend created a perfect balance of moisture and flavor platform since there is no soy, tapioca starch, or bean flour used in this gluten-free, dairy-free cake. A single flour may work just fine if you prefer not to mix a blend, but I would urge you not to use a blend that includes bean flour. This will result in an earthy, off-putting flavor not suited for this particular situation.
Honey Bourbon Cake will clearly not be a cake for everyone. Those who prefer layer cakes with sweet frosting slathered on the outside and oozing between the layers will most likely feel this cake is pungent and undressed. Trust me when I say that this cake needs no frosting. It would pair nicely with a whipped topping that is very nearly unsweetened, to counter the bold and beautiful. I did not serve it with a topping, but if I do next time (and there will be a next time), I’ll only do a dollop on the side, most likely of whipped coconut cream with just a hint of sugar. The ready-made, non-dairy whipped toppings available in stores will be far too over-the-top in richness. Only one key performer on this stage, please.
Serving Honey Bourbon Cake during the autumn months and holiday season will be well timed and perfectly suited for expectations of flavors and dessert styles that time of year. And yet, I felt I just had to bring this to you on Fat Tuesday. With its decadence and bourbon inclusion, my thoughts continually returned to Mardi Gras repeatedly. I’ve never experienced the bead throwing, shirt-lifting frivolities of the Bourbon Street celebration, but this cake just seems appropriate for the occasion.
With all its stand-up-and-pay-attention-to-me characteristics, I hope I’ve not scared you away from trying this cake. It received well-deserved applause at its unveiling and taste testing. It truly is one for the (recipe) books!
Happy bourbon-infused cake baking!
Gluten-free, Dairy-free Honey Bourbon Cake
- 1 Tablespoon solid coconut oil
- 1 cup grapeseed oil
- 3 3/4 cups gluten-free, dairy-free, all-purpose flour (includes psyllium husk), plus extra for the pan
- 2 teaspoons xanthan gum or guar gum OR 3 teaspoons psyllium husk – IF your flour doesn’t already contain it
- 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
- 1 cup honey
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 3 large organic eggs, room temperature
- zest of 2 oranges
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup hot decaf coffee
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice – from the two zested oranges
- 1/4 cup good-quality bourbon
- 1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds, optional
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease Bundt pan with coconut oil, then dust with a tablespoon of flour, making sure to cover all surfaces, then turn pan upside down (over the sink) and tap gently to loosen and remove any excess flour. Set pan aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine oil, coconut sugar, honey, brown sugar, eggs, orange zest, and almond extract on medium speed until well combined and creamy.
- To a medium bowl add flour. Sift in baking powder and baking soda. Add cinnamon, salt, cloves, allspice and ginger. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.
- In a large measuring cup, combine hot coffee, orange juice, and bourbon. Stir.
- To the sugar and egg mixture, gradually add in flour mixture and the liquid mixture alternating between the two a bit at a time, ending with the flour mixture, scraping down the mixing bowl periodically to make sure all ingredients are well incorporated. The batter will have a thin consistency.
- Sprinkle sliced almonds into bottom of pan in an even formation, if desired. The almonds will end up distributing throughout the cake during baking.
- Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan. Tap the bottom a couple of times to bring any air bubbles to the top.
- Place pan on center rack of preheated 350ºF oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in center of pan comes out clean (I usually say “with just a few crumbs” but this cake is so moist that it requires that extra cooking time).
- Place pan on cooling rack and allow cake to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, place a plate over the pan and carefully invert pan and plate to allow cake to slide onto plate. Remove pan. Almonds will be scattered throughout the cake.
- Serve at room temperature. Store leftover cake in an airtight container, or well-wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 days. Can be sliced into single-serving portions and wrapped in plastic wrap, then in re-sealable plastic bags, and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
- NOTES AND TIPS: During baking, the batter rose above the top of the Bundt pan (though it was cooked enough at that point to not spill over) and bubbled and looked abnormal compared to a typical cake batter. I was concerned…unnecessarily. Just be sure to cook the cake completely, no crumbs or moisture on the skewer. Though I did stop the baking when there were a few moist crumbs on my testing skewer, the cake was perfectly moist and delicious. The bottom (which was the top of the cake while cooking) was obviously more moist than the rest of the perfectly textured cake, but didn’t hinder the flavor or presentation when serving. Just be sure to cook the cake completely – don’t be concerned that it might overcook as it rests in the pan.
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™