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Bourbon Pound Cake with Macerated Peaches

Kayla Hoang
Cook Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Prep Time:
20 mins
Yields:
1 (9-inch) loaf
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Chef notes

Laced with notes of vanilla, caramel and the subtlest bit of oaky bourbon, this plush pound cake is equal parts impressive and scrumptious. Whereas a pound cake can easily become dense or dry and lackluster in appearance, this cake rises tall with its iconic cracked dome. It stays soft and moist, thanks to a few thoughtful tricks and ingredients. The buttery bourbon syrup and glaze on top ties everything together. The only thing better than the cake itself is the pairing of juicy macerated peaches and whipped cream. 

Pound cake is fairly simple to make compared to a layer cake, but it does take a little bit of patience to do it right. Many pound cakes follow the same rules: cream the living daylights out of the butter and sugar mixture to aerate it; use equal amounts of flour, sugar, butter and eggs;  and bake at 350 F. After making this version no less than five times (and failing plenty along the way), I can tell you that some rules are meant to be broken.

After trying countless ingredient proportions and methods, I landed on the perfect combination of both to yield a pretty dang good cake. Although not traditional, I found that the tiniest bit of baking powder provides extra insurance to maintain the cake's lift and lightens the tight crumb in the slightest way. I found that in this recipe, it’s better to be modest in creaming time — just 2 to 3 minutes — until the butter and sugar are just fluffy and lightened in color. This allows wiggle room for the rest of the ingredients to be added in without running the risk of over-beating. Whereas most recipes call for baking the cake at 350 F, this one bakes at 325 F. The lower temperature allows the heavy batter to bake and rise at a more even rate. Moreover, take care to bake the cake thoroughly since it is pretty hefty. I’ve found that it’s perfect once the batter where the cake splits is matte-looking. While the cake does stay soft and moist by itself, brushing with a buttery bourbon syrup adds extra insurance to keep it moist over time and a glaze helps to seal it in.

I developed this cake to focus on the flavor notes of the bourbon without the strong burn, but it can easily be adjusted if you want something punchier. While I do not recommend adding extra bourbon to the cake (this will mess with the proportions and can lead to a dense, over-hydrated cake), you can totally adjust the syrup, glaze and even the peaches. In the syrup, you can either reduce the bourbon less or leave out up to 1 tablespoon, then add it in after it has cooked. In the glaze, you can replace some or all of the milk with bourbon, but be aware that the color will be slightly more caramelized and very strong. And in the peaches, you can add a splash when macerating, but you may need to adjust the ratio of sugar and lemon juice.

Technique Tip: Make sure the butter is softened (will easily take an indent if poked) and the eggs are room temperature. Moreover, your creaming time will really depend on the softness of the butter. If the butter is very soft, it will cream with the sugar quicker. If the butter is a little firmer, it may take on the longer end of the time range.

If the egg and butter mixture looks like it is going to split with the addition of the last egg, add 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture before mixing.

It might seem like a generous amount of syrup for the cake, but it can handle it. However, if you don’t feel comfortable using all of the syrup left, you can reserve it for later use in the refrigerator (warm before using again) or use it to make extra glaze to yield a thicker coating.

Swap Option: You can use all granulated or all light brown sugar in the syrup rather than a combination. 

If desired, you can forgo the peaches and whipped cream and even the glaze, but for the best flavor and moistness, do not skip the syrup.

Ingredients

For the Pound Cake
  • nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
For the Syrup and Glaze
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon milk, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the peaches and serving (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from half a lemon)
  • 1 pound (about 2 large or 3 medium) fresh peaches, pits removed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (from 1/4 lemon), plus more as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • whipped cream, for serving
Fulfilled by

Preparation

Make the cake

1.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the long sides.

2.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

3.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until very fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bowl and paddle every minute.

4.

Reduce to medium-low speed. Add the yolk and then the whole eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl between, until just incorporated, about 30 seconds each.

5.

Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low until just combined, about 10 seconds. Scrape the bowl. Add the bourbon and beat on low again until just incorporated, about 10 seconds. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat on low once more until just combined, about 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the batter a couple final folds to ensure all of the flour mixture is incorporated.

6.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and gently smooth the top.

7.

Bake for 75 to 80 minutes or until the cake is risen, splits down the length, is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

8.

Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. While still in the pan, brush the cake with the bourbon syrup. Let sit for 5 minutes in the pan to fully absorb, then transfer the cake directly to the rack to cool completely before glazing.

Make the syrup and glaze

1.

While the cake bakes, make the syrup and glaze. In a small saucepan, bring the bourbon to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes.

2.

Add the water, granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter. Reduce to medium-low heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring to melt the butter and sugars. Once simmering, continue to cook until caramel in color and slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

3.

In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla and 4 teaspoons of the syrup until fully combined. The glaze should be able to coat a spoon or spatula in an even layer and the excess drips off slowly. Adjust with more confectioners’ sugar if too thin or milk/syrup if too thick. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the glaze until ready to use.

4.

Brush the remaining syrup onto the still-warm cake (see step 8 above).

5.

Once the cake is cooled completely, give the glaze a stir and then pour over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Let set until firm before slicing.

Macerate the peaches (optional)

1.

At least 10 minutes before serving, macerate the peaches (if desired). In a large bowl, add the granulated sugar and lemon zest. Use your fingers to rub the lemon zest into the sugar until well combined and fragrant. Add the peaches, lemon juice and salt and carefully toss with a spoon or spatula until the sugar is dissolved and the peach slices are well coated and glossy. Let macerate in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes or until the peaches are juicier and slightly syrupy. Adjust with more sugar or lemon juice as needed.

2.

Serve the pound cake with whipped cream and the macerated peaches as desired.