High Country baking: St. Paddy’s All-Day Cake
March 8, 2011
An all-day celebration – that’s what St. Patrick deserves! And, this little cake makes it possible. Not too sweet, with a crumbly, tender texture reminiscent of Irish soda bread, it’s perfect slathered with some soft butter and a cup of coffee or tea when the sun’s up. Topped with an Irish whiskey sauce at the end of the day, it becomes a fine dessert. I’m betting Patrick would raise a glass to its versatility; I know my testers did.
I’m told the cake is most authentically Irish when made with dried currants and golden raisins. But I like the contrast provided by a wider variety of dried fruits. It’s nice either way; the choice is yours.
Adjusted for altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet
Make in a 6 cup non-stick Bundt pan
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2-1/2 (two and a half) cups unbleached all purpose flour (gently spoon into measuring cup and level) plus 1 (one) tablespoon of flour for the dried fruit
1/2 (one half) plus 1/8 (one eighth) teaspoon of baking powder
1/8 (one eighth) teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 (one half) teaspoon of salt
8 (eight) tablespoons of unsalted butter (one stick), softened
3/4 (three fourths) cup of granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
1 (one) large egg at room temperature
3/4 (three fourths) cup of buttermilk
1 (one) cup of a mixture of soft, fresh golden raisins, currants, and/or other dried fruit
Irish Whiskey Glaze
1/4 (one fourth) cup of water
1-1/2 (one and a half) tablespoons of granulated sugar
1-2 (one to two) tablespoons of Irish Whiskey
Optional Irish Whiskey Sauce
(serves 4-6; can be doubled)
4 (four) tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 (one half) cup granulated sugar
3(three) tablespoons Irish whiskey
1/8 (one eighth) teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 (one) large egg (you’ll use only half)
Step One: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Generously grease the Bundt pan (yup, even if it’s non-stick). Combine the 2-1/2 cups of flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and whisk vigorously to mix. Set this aside. Check your butter and egg to make sure they are at room temperature. Check your dried fruit. If necessary, soften it by placing it in a bowl, sprinkling it with a little water or Irish whiskey (only to dampen, not soak it), cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave at a medium temperature for a minute or so, until softened. Uncover and let cool to room temperature.
Step Two: Beat the room temperature butter and the sugar (medium speed for standing mixer, medium-high or high for hand-held) until almost white in color and very soft. This will take from 4-6 minutes. Add the egg and beat again, scraping bowl as needed, until fully incorporated and very smooth.
Step Three: Stop the mixer, add half of the flour mixture, and, on low speed, beat until mixed. In a steady stream, drizzle in the buttermilk and beat until fully combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and, on low speed, combine. The batter will be quite stiff.
Step Four: Toss the dried fruit with the remaining one tablespoon of flour and fold them into the batter until they’re evenly distributed. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, leveling and smoothing it as you go. Bake until the cake is golden on top, with a few cracks, and a toothpick inserted all the way to the bottom of the batter comes out clean (be sure and do this test; you can’t tell if it’s done without it). This takes 45-50 minutes in my oven.
Step Five: Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. While it rests, make the glaze: Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer three to four minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the whiskey (one to two tablespoons, to taste), and let cool slightly. Invert the cake, remove it from the pan, and brush generously with the glaze (you may not use it all). Let the cake cool. Slice and serve, or rewarm slices and serve.
Step Six: Make the Irish Whiskey Sauce, if using: (1) Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. (2) Stir in the sugar, whiskey, nutmeg and salt and continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved. To test this, take a small spoonful of the mixture and rub it between your fingers. It should be absolutely smooth. Remove the pan from the heat. (3) In a small bowl, whisk the egg until it is frothy. Slowly pour HALF of the beaten egg (about two tablespoons) into the butter mixture, whisking rapidly the entire time. (4) Return the pan to the heat and increase it to medium-low. Gently stir, bring the mixture to a simmer or very slow boil. Continue cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens, about 2-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve or set aside to cool and store covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. (5) Reheat the sauce over low heat. If it separates, take it off the heat and whisk in a small amount of warm water. Serve warm, over warmed cake.
The cake recipe is a variation of one published by Nick Malgieri.
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.