Several years ago, I stood in awe, taking in the brand newness of Wigle Whiskey in its infancy. “Try this!” the owner said, as he stood in front of the shimmering new copper still. I dipped my finger under the slow drip and eagerly plunged my finger into my mouth, expecting that caramel-like, oak-aged flavor.
The wrongness of my false assumption hit me immediately. I tried to regain the composure I had surely lost. Today, that clear liquid has character, a deep amber color and the oak notes that tickle the nose and throat with a little heat. Today it is whiskey, but then, it tasted like I had licked a raw grain like a popsicle. Whiskey takes time, so much time and care.
I imagine parenting to be something like the smack of wheat that hit me when I was expecting maturity. A man might look at a baby bundle of little girl and expect his daughter to carry his belief systems, not to challenge him on everything, to grow up, choose a career path, follow that path and maybe settle down. But then reality hits like a drip from a still, and it’s dreadlocks, a tattoo, a wandering spirit, what some might call a restlessness and others would call curiosity. She’s opinionated, stubborn, a dreamer and a risk taker.
I imagine parenting to be something like the smack of wheat that hit me when I was expecting amber, oaky flavor. The process requires time, patience and a good deal of faith. I’m eternally grateful my parents put trust in the process, allowing me to carve my own path, supporting me along the way.
My dad is not a whiskey drinker, but I am. It’s just one of our many differences. However, the spirit is symbolic of our relationship. I was the surprise smack of wheat, but he was the one who aged well, who changed the most. He opened up, made himself vulnerable and supported me fully. When people say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” I grab a frisbee because my dad has changed more than anyone I know, and I am immensely proud of him for that.
I’m far away and belated (as always), but this is my Father’s Day dedication to my dad. Here’s to the man who placed me in front of a bull and believed I could herd that bull where I wanted him to go. Here’s to the man who handed me big ol’ truck keys long before the state would allow. Here’s to the man who cheered for me from every sideline and from every awards ceremony and then hauled me to my dream school.
Here’s to the man who reads my articles on glorified tea parties because they are my articles on glorified tea parties. But above all, here’s to the man who has wept with me when I needed him to, who shed stereotypes to be sensitive, who tells me he is proud of me and loves me. He made me tough, but he made me sensitive too.
This whiskey cake was for the local dads- the one who raised my Urban Farmer and the one who made that father a grandfather. It’s a cake for the way they melt around the new grand baby, the way they rally to build deck steps, the way they show up and support everything farm related. Here’s a belated ode to my dad, my local dads and to those who act like dads everyday. It’s not an easy role. It’s full of smacks to the face, and not everyone steps up to the plate, but to those who do, I salute you in the only way I know how- through cake!
Peach Whiskey Spelt Cake
About this Recipe: The cake batter will be very wet, but it yields a moist cake with a rich molasses flavor and a hint of whiskey. While the cakes cool, prepare the caramelized peaches, then the caramel and then the whipped cream. The recipe looks intimidating because of the many steps, but the whole cake comes together rather quickly. The alcohol in the cake bakes out, but the whipped cream will maintain the alcohol content, so this cake is not for younger eaters.
1 cup organic sprouted spelt flour (recommended: One Degree Organics)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (recommended: Kerrygold)
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
3 large eggs (cage-free/organic)
1/4 cup organic local buttermilk
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup whiskey (recommended Wigle Wheat Whiskey)
1 cup chopped firm peaches (approximately 2 large peaches)
Caramelized Peaches (recipe below)
Smoked Sea Salt & Whiskey Caramel (recipe below)
Whiskey Whipped Cream (recipe below)
Fresh basil flowers or herb garnish of choice
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350℉.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
Using a standing mixer, beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugars, and mix well.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
On low speed, beat in the flour mixture, one-third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the dry ingredients.
Mix in the molasses on medium-low speed.
Mix in the whiskey until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Fold in the chopped peaches.
Pour the batter into 2 greased 6-inch springform cake pans, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pans. Let cool completely before assembling. While the cake cools, prepare the caramelized peaches.
3 firm large peaches
1/4 cup organic coconut sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cardamom
Pinch of table salt
2 Tablespoons butter (recommended: Kerrygold)
Cut peaches into thin slices.
Toss together peaches, coconut sugar, cornstarch, spices and salt.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fruit mixture, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft and caramelized. Cool completely (about 30 minutes).
While the peaches cool, prepare the caramel.
Smoked Sea Salt Whiskey Caramel
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon water
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter (recommended: Kerrygold)
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt (or regular sea salt)
1 Tablespoons whiskey (recommended: Wigle Wheat Whiskey), or more, to taste
Place both sugars and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until sugars melt and become a light golden-amber color.
Remove from heat and whisk in 5 Tablespoons butter (be careful as mixture will begin to bubble up).
Place the mixture back onto the stovetop and cook for an additional minute, while whisking.
Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream (mixture will bubble up again).
Place the sauce over the heat again and whisk in sea salt and whiskey. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool completely.
In a large mixing bowl or with a stand mixer beat remaining butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar and continue to beat until no lumps remain.
Whiskey Whipped Cream
3/4 cups organic heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons whiskey (recommended: Wigle Wheat Whiskey)
In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer, combine the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form.
Add the whiskey, and continue to beat until incorporated, being careful not to over-mix, or you’ll end up with whiskey butter (not a terrible idea). Keep chilled until ready to use.
Place one cake on a serving plate (make sure the plate is bigger than the cake). Dollop with whipped cream, and use an offset spatula to smooth. You may have extra whipped cream. Reserve extra whipped cream for serving (keep chilled).
Top with the second cake. Pour the caramel over the surface of the cake. Arrange peach slices on the top in a rose pattern. Add the extra peach slices to the perimeter of the cake base.
Garnish with basil flowers. Keep chilled until ready to serve.