Iowa Bourbon Cake

This adaptation of a classic English fruitcake is no joke. It’s intensely flavorful and just potent enough.


  • 1 c. golden raisins
  • 1 c. dried cherries
  • 1 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 c. Iowa Bourbon
  • 2 c. chopped pecans
  • 2 ¼ c. all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (½ whole nutmeg)
  • ½ tsp. double-acting baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¾ c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites


2 hours to 3 days ahead of time, combine the raisins and dried fruit with the bourbon. Cover and let it soak.

Drain the fruit, reserving 1 cup bourbon.

Place the fruit and pecans in a large bowl, add the ¼ cup flour, and
toss to coat and separate any clumps.

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Place a roasting pan or large baking pan on the lower rack of the oven and add 1-inch of boiling water. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Grease again.

Sift together 2 cups of flour, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. 

In a very large bowl, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium, gradually add the sugars, and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Add the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in 3 stages alternately with the reserved 1 cup bourbon, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until stiff but not dry, 5 to 8 minutes. Fold ¼ of the whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining whites. Stir in the fruit and nut mixture.

Pour into the prepared pan, tapping to remove any air pockets, but do not pack down. Bake for about 3 hours, rotating the pan every 45 minutes or so, until a wooden tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack
and let cool in the pan, at least 2 hours.

Remove the cake from the pan. You can eat the cake right away, or age it by wrapping it in a cloth or double layer of cheesecloth dampened with
bourbon, placing in an airtight container or wrapping in heavy duty aluminum foil, and letting it stand in a cool, dry place for at least 2 weeks.

Iowa Bourbon Cake

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