This was on my Fall Baking Wish List, so naturally I made it in January. But the fact that I waited so long to make this cake isn’t what’s really important. What is important is that it got made…and that it was AMAZING.
You could probably convince me to make just about anything that includes brown sugar and bourbon, but I had my doubts about this recipe. Dried fruit, raisins, fresh apples, AND nuts?? It sounds dangerously close to fruitcake territory, and that’s one place I have no desire to go.
But the description of the cake–of its chewiness, of its variation in textures, of its spicy, dark flavors–convinced me that it was a must try.
Let me tell you. This is more than a must try. This is a “need to make it as quickly as I can get my butt to the grocery store and back into the kitchen” try.
Like I said earlier-there’s a lot going on here. Bourbon soaked raisins and dried apple slices. Chunks of fresh chopped apple. Dark brown sugar whipped with eggs. A spiced flour mixture. The fruit to batter ratio was honestly so high I was afraid I was going to end up with nothing more than a pile of floury hot apples.
Instead, I ended up with tender fruit cloaked in an unbelievably moist, fluffy cinnamon molasses cake.
And then of course there’s the Brown Sugar Bourbon Sauce.
If the thought of rich molasses cake with bourbon soaked apples isn’t enough to get you into the kitchen right now, I hope this sauce will be. It’s simple–just butter, brown sugar, and half and half, but the hint of bourbon cuts the sweetness and helps it to stand up against the strong flavors of the cake. And it’s not just good for cake. You could drizzle this stuff over ice cream, yogurt, pancakes, or just lick it straight off the spoon.
I made this cake in 2 9 inch round cake pans then layered them with some bourbon sauce between, but you could just as easily make this in a 9 x 13 in rectangular pan. This is the kind of cake you’ll want to eat warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or, if you’re like me, you might just eat the cake straight from the pan, munching on all the little niblins that have fallen from the cake, because we all know niblins don’t have calories, right? Right??
And yes, in case you were wondering, this would make a fantastic surprise for your husband, best friend, girlfriend, or dog for Valentine’s Day. Spread the love!
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup bourbon
1 cup dried apple slices
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 cups tightly packed dark brown sugar (if using a very tart apple, like Granny Smith, increase to 1 1/2) You can also use light brown sugar and add a Tablespoon of molasses.
2 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup chopped toasted nuts (optional)
2 medium-large sweet tart apples (I used Cameo), one peeled and one unpeeled, both cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1. In a small bowl, combine bourbon and raisins. Let soak for 30 minutes, add apple slices, then soak for another 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 in baking pan or 2 9 in round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease the parchment lightly with butter.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat both sugars on medium speed until totally combined. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed until the mixture becomes thick and light in color, about 3 minutes.
5. Add the cooled melted butter and mix on low until just combined. Add the dry ingredients in two additions, stirring by hand until the flour is just moistened.
6. Add the dried fruit and bourbon mixture (undrained), apple chunks, and nuts (if desired). Stir by hand until evenly distributed. Do not over stir.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and place on center rack in oven. If using the 9 in cake pans, bake for 50-60 minutes. If using the 9 x 13 in pan, bake for 70-80 minutes. The cake should spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center should just have a few crumbs clinging to it.
Serve warm with Brown Sugar Bourbon Drizzle.
Brown Sugar Bourbon Drizzle
Yield: About 2 cups
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut in Tablespoons
1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup half and half
2 1/2 Tablespoons bourbon
1. In a small sauce pan over low heat mix butter, sugars, and cream. Stir until sugar is dissolved and butter is completely melted. Raise heat to medium and bring to a gentle boil, stirring continually (I’m serious about this! If you leave this for more than 10 seconds you risk a giant caramely overflow!). Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge.