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Flour Girl: A nip of Irish whiskey cake

Irish Whiskey Cake. (Leigh Lambert/The Washington Post)

Maybe I was drawn to making an Irish whiskey cake because I'm 8 1/2 months pregnant and haven't had a drink in that long. It seemed a socially acceptable way for a little taste (far less than a nip, really). Although this is still a controversial topic and every woman makes the choices she feels comfortable with, I've been told by reliable health care professionals that an occasional glass of wine isn't harmful. That said, try putting this advice into practice out in the real world, and you elicit raised eyebrows and some pretty nasty looks. (One waiter refused to serve me, even though I had an ID proving I was legal. Obviously, that was not his concern.)

It's not as if I feel like chugging it straight from the bottle, but that warm release to soften the rough edges from hauling around an extra person all day does sound welcome. This recipe has a mere fraction of a shot per serving (1/2 cup divided by 12 comes out to a little over 1/2 tablespoon per person), especially when considering that more than half of the alcohol would probably burn off during baking. Still, the aroma is lovely and the flavors linger in the mouth.

Recipe Included

Unlike many recipes you'll find for Irish whiskey cake, this one is made from scratch, not a mix. The dense, moist texture does well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream and a cup of coffee.

I don't have any Irish roots, but since when has that stopped anyone? St. Paddy's Day is an inclusive holiday.

-- Leigh Lambert

Irish Whiskey Cake
16 servings

This is a very dense and moist, slightly boozy version of a fruitcake. The glaze adds texture, but the cake is good enough to stand on its own.

MAKE AHEAD: The cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Adapted from Stonegate Bed and Breakfast, 1st Traveler's Choice Internet Cookbook (

For the cake
2 cups golden raisins
Freshly grated zest of 1 or 2 lemons (2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup Irish whiskey, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
3 large egg whites and 3 large egg yolks

For the icing
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Freshly squeezed juice from 1 or 2 lemons (3 tablespoons), plus more as needed

For the cake: Combine the raisins, lemon zest and whiskey in a small bowl; let sit overnight at room temperature. (Alternatively, microwave the raisins and lemon zest on HIGH for 1 minute, making sure the bowl is microwave-save. Then stir in the whiskey.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking oil spray.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cloves in a medium bowl.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium speed until fully blended.

Add the egg yolks one at a time; beat until thoroughly blended. Add the raisin mixture and blend until fully incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture to form a batter.

Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the batter in three additions, then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then run a round-edged knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it. Invert onto the rack and cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing: Sift the confectioners' sugar into a small bowl, then add the lemon juice and mix well to form an icing that can be drizzled over the cake. If the consistency is too thick, add lemon juice or whiskey as needed. If the icing's too thin, add confectioners' sugar.

Drizzle the icing over the cooled cake.

Per serving: 280 calories, 3 g protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 90 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 30 g sugar

By Leigh Lambert  |  March 11, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Flour Girl  | Tags: Flour Girl, baking, dessert  
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