Rifling through my albums, comic books and old hot rod magazines, I stumbled upon some vintage index cards filled with a curious scrawl. I’m not sure of their provenance-I’d like to think they’re my grandmother’s, she was a professional cook-but their origin is a mystery.

They’re recipe cards, yellowed with age, and feature all sorts of delicious, old timey dishes like flitter cakes, friendship fruit, shoo-fly pie, hummingbird cake-that sort of thing. But the one dish that really intrigued me was bourbon cake. Growing up in Kentucky, bourbon finds its way into all sorts of recipes. Folks put it in chili, glaze hams with it, dose dishes of baked beans with it, and of course use it in all manners of cocktails.

After a test run in the kitchen, I can confirm the following recipe’s deliciousness. But then I can’t remember ever eating a bad bundt cake. There’s magic in those old pans. Here’s the formula. I offer it as a salute to Nellie Sullivan, my grandmother and one of the great country cooks of the Cumberland Highlands region of Appalachia.


3 cups sifted self rising flour {all good old-school cooks of The South use self-rising}

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 c. sugar

1 c. brown sugar

4 eggs

1/2 c. bourbon, I love Bulleit

1 c. buttermilk


* Cream the butter and sugars together, use a stand mixer if you have one, otherwise you’ll end up with a forearm like Popeye

* Add eggs one at a time, blending thoroughly

* Whip the bourbon and buttermilk in a separate bowl

* Beginning with the flour, add dry ingredients to butter/sugar in 3 parts, alternating with wet ingredients, end with flour-be thorough with your blending to create a smooth, silky batter

* Pour batter into bundt pan sprayed with Baker’s Joy

* Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes til golden brown and cooked through

Buttermilk Praline Sauce


1 c. Sugar, white cane

1 c. Sugar, brown

1/2 t. Baking soda

1/2 t. Salt

1 c. Buttermilk


* Combine all ingredients

* Cook over medium heat in 4 quart kettle til sugar is dissolved

* Lower heat, cook 20 minutes longer til sauce is caramel colored

Pour glaze over cake and allow cake to “cure” for as long as possible. You will be forgiven if this wait is 30 or so seconds as the aroma coming off your creation will be absolutely maddening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>