A pound cake with an extra boozy component, this Mint Julep Cake is a must for Derby parties, but it also merits year-round baking.
Are You Here for the Mint Julep Cake?
I baked this Mint Julep Cake for my birthday celebrations and adapted this Derby-inspired recipe ever so slightly from Leite’s Culinaria. I made it whole-grain and switched up some of the sugars from refined to more natural. That being said, this cake contains more sugar than I would normally use, but since we’re battling the bundt shape/release, I didn’t want to alter the ratios too much.
What made my cake extra julepy was transporting the cake while it was still quite warm. The mint garnish seemed to steam flavor into each bite.
Tips for the Bundt Pan Release
The density of this Mint Julep Cake helps with the bundt shape. Additionally, I’ve found that greasing the pan, then dusting with evaporated cane sugar helps more than dusting with flour.
Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before flipping (carefully) onto a wire rack to cool completely. If the cake doesn’t pop out right away, leave it inverted on the cooling rack. Check again after 10 to 15 minutes.
Then, say several prayers, to several deities, and hope for the best. It always helps to know that cake, even crumbled, will likely be eaten and enjoyed. Worse comes to worst, you can always turn it into a trifle cake at the last minute.
Are You Here to Hang? I’d Love to Tell You About My Birthday
For my 39th year, I wanted to celebrate!
Last year, COVID hit me right before my birthday, and while the festivities ensued (safely), they felt mellower than past years of roller skating, snow tubing, and claiming the whole month of January for myself. So this year, I found lots of ways to celebrate.
There were multiple festivities, various occasions with friends, time pushing myself past my comfort zone, times dancing like I was in high school again, a special dinner with my partner, and a gathering around our loooong dining room table. We completely filled the table for the first time, and my heart felt full of love and gratitude.
Birthday Eve Dinner
On my birthday eve, Dylan took me to Siempre Algo, a restaurant in our neighborhood. We started with a complimentary glass of bubbles (such a nice touch) and continued all the way to dessert. The fresh-baked bread was an extra special touch.
A Mint Julep Cake, Whiskey, Horse Races & Jock Jams
On the day of my birthday, I shared a homemade Mint Julep cake with friends at “Night at the Races,” a rather ridiculous event in which an impressive volunteer announcer commentates old horse races (on VHS!). The horses all have new names, and I’m constantly impressed he can keep them straight. Attendees can bet, and all the money goes to charity. The “charity” is the most Pittsburgh charity possible – fireworks!
Things go from civilized to heated very quickly …
Shredding My Fears with the Years
As I have been moving into 2023 and my 39th year, my word has been “try.” I’ve long battled with perfectionism and the fear of choosing the wrong path. The painful irony is that not choosing keeps me stuck in something I don’t like. I’ve attended the Shred Your Fears workshop for the past few years. It’s a skateboarding workshop for women, trans and nonbinary people to feel strong and comfortable in their bodies.
I’ve attended Shred Your Fears several times now, and I always tell myself I want to take private lessons to take my skating to the next level. For various reasons, some legit, and some not, I never signed up for a lesson. But this is the year to try, have more fun, and live my life in a way that’s challenging, rich, and full. I signed up for my first lesson before leaving the park. No room for excuses or delays!
I’m three lessons in now and loving it. I’m scared every time, but every time, I leave feeling more connected to my body, more confident, and more content than when I arrived.
Check out my latest progress!
Let There Be Brunch!
Our dining renovation was about 90% complete by the time my birthday rolled around – what a tremendous gift from Rooke Creative (more on that soon!). Brunch is my favorite meal, and sharing it with friends is my favorite way to brunch. This was the first time we completely filled our 11-foot table, and it warmed my heart.
My Birthday Brunch Menu:
- Coffee from Caffe D’Amore
- An Everything Bagel Board featuring whole-grain mini bagels from One Mighty Mill
- A Sweet Baked French Toast with orange, cranberries, cardamom, and goat cheese. Served with bourbon whipped cream.
- A Savory Baked French Toast with caramelized onion, sausage, roasted squash, parmesan, and crispy sage
- Spinach Salad
- Black-Forest Bacon
- Galette Des Rois from La Gourmandine
The Galette Des Rois Tradition (King Cake)
When I landed in the South of France for my semester abroad, I was days away from my birthday, living with a new family, in a new place. For a girl who is big on birthdays, the circumstances were a little lonely. Unrelated to my birthday, my host mom brought home a Galette Des Rois and invited me to share in the tradition.
I watched as the youngest person present, her son, assumed his place under the table, and assigned slices blindly to all of us. The person who discovers the féve (typically a small ceramic figurine) inside their piece of cake is the Rois, receives the gold paper crown, and will have good luck.
It just so happens that my very first piece of galette contained the féve, so I became the queen for my birthday. The bit of festivity brightened my spirits and became a cherished memory. Luckily for me, La Gourmandine, a traditional French bakery in Pittsburgh, bakes these frangipane cakes annually. Rather than bake my own birthday cakes (which I am prone to do), I chose to repeat the revered tradition, and wouldn’t you know it, I found a little ceramic piece in my slice! A birthday queen again!
Thanks for celebrating with me!
Mint Julep Bundt Cake
For the Bourbon Cake
- 360 g sifted white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 227 g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 297 g coconut sugar
- 107 g firmly packed brown sugar
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 57 ml really quite smooth and decent bourbon (like Bulleit)
- 237 ml buttermilk, at room temperature
For the Glaze
- 85 g unsalted butter
- 149 g granulated sugar
- 57 g really quite smooth and decent bourbon (like Bulleit
For the Garnish
- 1 bunch fresh mint
- fresh flowers
- powdered sugar
For the Bourbon Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Adjust an oven rack to the center position. Generously butter a 10- or 12-cup Bundt pan or fluted metal tube pan or two 6-cup Bundt pans.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt, then whisk the mixture by hand to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 5 minutes. As you make the batter, stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Blend in the eggs 1 at a time.
- In a small bowl, combine the bourbon and buttermilk.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk-bourbon mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl.
- Before the last of the flour has been incorporated, stop the mixer and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula. The batter should be smooth and shiny, like liquid silk.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the cake is golden and springs back when gently pressed, 40 to 45 minutes if using a 10- or 12-cup Bundt pan and 30 to 35 minutes if using a 6-cup Bundt pan.
- Remove the cake from the oven but leave it in the pan. Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a wooden skewer.
For the Glaze:
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter, sugar, and bourbon just until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, whisking to combine.
- Pour 3/4 of the glaze slowly over the cake, saving the remaining glaze. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes.
- Invert the cake pan and glazed cake onto a cake stand or serving plate and gently remove the pan. See notes for tips on removing the cake.
- If desired, brush the top of the cake with the remaining glaze. (If the glaze has thickened to the point where it doesn't want to budge, simply rewarm it over low heat.)
For the Garnish:
- Sprinkle the finished cake with powdered sugar, and fill the bundt center with a generous bunch of mint and flowers. Sprinkle the cake with extra chopped mint.