Bourbon Apple Cake

Craig Lee for the New York Times

Some of your relatives are probably going to be soaked in booze by the time dessert rolls around, so why shouldn’t your cake be, too? Soaking cake in liquor or syrup is a time-honored tradition. Basically, you bake a fairly standard cake (this one is infused with puréed apples), and when it’s done you douse it with butter-laden booze until it’s saturated. The result, as you can imagine, is strong and juicy, and eliminates the need for frosting.

Makes: About 12 Servings
Time: About 1 hour, plus one hour to rest


  • 2 sticks butter, softened, more for greasing pan

  • Flour (if using Bundt pan)

  • 2 medium apples (about 8 ounces), peeled, cored and quartered

  • 2 ½ cups sugar

  • 4 eggs

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup milk

  • 1 cup bourbon, Calvados, Cognac or brandy


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch rectangular pan with butter, or butter and flour a 9-inch Bundt pan. Put apples in a blender or food processor and purée; remove and set aside.

2. In food processor, combine 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons) with 1 1/2 cups sugar and pulse until combined. With motor running, add eggs one at a time. Add apple purée and process until just combined.

3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add about a third of flour mixture to apple mixture in food processor. Then, with motor running, add about half of milk; add another third of flour, followed by rest of milk, then finally last of the flour. Process until batter just evens out.

4. Turn batter into prepared pan and bake until middle is set (your fingers should leave only a small indentation when you gently press cake), 45 to 50 minutes. When done, cool in pan for about 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup liquor in a small pot with remaining butter and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and liquid is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then pour over cake; let it sit for at least an hour before serving. (For Bundt, let it sit for an hour, then unmold). Store at room temperature, covered with waxed paper, for up to 2 days.

Recipe published in The New York Times (Photo: Craig Lee)