Grant Cornett
Whiskey/Ginger Cake with Pear Salad adapted from Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories From A New Southern Kitchen by Edward Lee.
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Whiskey/Ginger Cake with Pear Salad

Edward Lee, Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories From A New Southern Kitchen - December 11th, 2013

This recipe has been adapted from Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories From A New Southern Kitchen by Edward Lee—a book featured in Words-to-Table Cooking, Food Arts' yearly roundup of chef-authored cookbooks.

My neighbor, pastry chef Leah Stewart, created this for a Jack Daniel’s dinner in Louisville. I liked it so much, I “borrowed” the recipe. Hey, come on, we all do it: take a recipe and adapt it into our own. Most whiskey-flavored desserts are too heavy and syrupy for me. I wanted the whiskey flavor, but in something refined and regal. We fussed around with the recipe to get it just right. Adding fresh pears to a traditional ginger cake gives it a contemporary feel.

Serves up to 10

Cake:

  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, grapeseed or canola
  • 10 Tbsps. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 2/3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 4 lg. eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 1/3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 2 1/2 tsps. baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsps. ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease two 8" round cake pans.

  2. Cream together oil, butter, and brown sugar in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment 3 minutes; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; add grated ginger; mix until smooth, about 2 minutes.

  3. Combine buttermilk and coconut milk in small bowl; separately, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, and ground ginger; alternating between them, slowly add buttermilk and flour mixtures, a little at a time, to the egg mixture, mixing on medium-low speed until well blended; pour batter into prepared 8" cake pans; bake 45 minutes, or until done; remove pans from oven; rest 10 minutes; remove cakes from pans; cool on wire racks.

Frosting:

  • 3/4 lb. unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup good-quality whiskey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 lbs. confectioners' sugar

Whisk together butter and cream cheese in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes; add whiskey and vanilla; mix until smooth, turn speed to low; slowly add sugar, a little at a time, mixing until smooth; cover in airtight container; reserve at room temperature.

To serve:

  • 1 Anjou pear
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • borage blossoms, unsprayed
  1. To assemble the cake, place one layer on cake stand or serving plate; spread thin layer of frosting over the top; add second layer of cake; spread remaining frosting over the cake, smoothing the sides and top.

  2. To serve, core the pear; slice part into thin rounds and julienne the rest; toss with lime zest and juice; garnish cake top with pear and borage; serve.

Chef's Note: Leftover cake will stay moist, if well wrapped, in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.
What to drink: Serve this as an elegant end to an important meal, with some good whiskey or a cocktail.

Excerpted from Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories From A New Southern Kitchen by Edward Lee (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013.