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Vanilla Bean & Bourbon Bundt Cake

May 12, 2010

Alternately titled The Cheesecake Tartlets That Just Weren’t Meant To Be.

Sometimes I get these ideas for recipes in my head that I want to make just because they will look so cute. This past weekend I found myself with 2lbs of fresh from the farm strawberries that were begging to be featured in a dessert. Then I got an idea. Picture this: Little mini cheesecake tarts with fluted edges, topped with bright red fresh strawberries. Cute, right? Except they just were not meant to be. First, I forgot to buy the tartlet pans when I was in town, only realizing it after I got home 30 minutes away. Ugh. So back in the car I went to make another hour round trip… only to find the store didn’t have the pans in stock anyway! Double ugh.

IMG_5959 wm   IMG_5976 wm

At that point I resigned myself to making the Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake I’d seen in the April issue of Bon Apetit the night before. (I’m really behind on my magazine reading.) It didn’t sound exciting or cute, but it didn’t require any special pans I didn’t have, so it would do.

Well don’t let the name fool you like it did me. This cake is amazing. Chocolate is and always will be my favorite, but I find myself eating this cake two slices at a time. The warm vanilla aroma with hints of cinnamon is positively heavenly. The crumb is fine but sturdy, tender and moist. Each bite leads to another and another and another. I really can’t think of any cake better suited to accompany farm fresh berries.

This cake may be vanilla, but it is anything but boring!

Vanilla Bean & Bourbon Bundt Cake

Vanilla Bean & Bourbon Bundt Cake

Adapted from Bon Apetit, April 2010
Serves 10-12

The vanilla extract is optional. I added it because my vanilla bean was dry and difficult to get the seeds out of. If you have good vanilla beans you can probably skip it. For the bourbon, I used the good stuff – Maker’s Mark.

Cake Ingredients

Baking spray
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup milk

Glaze Ingredients

2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons skim milk
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 dashes of cinnamon (optional)

Strawberry Ingredients

2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
2-3 tablespoons sugar


Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray regular 10″ bundt pan with baking spray.

Measure bourbon into a small bowl or shot glass. Slice vanilla bean in half and using the back of a knife, scrape out the seeds. Stir vanilla bean seeds into bourbon and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and milk. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and egg yolk one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Beat in bourbon vanilla mixture and optional vanilla extract, if using. Add half of the flour mixture, beating until combined, then add sour cream mixture. Once incorporated, add remaining half of flour mixture and mix just until combined.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and using a spatula, smooth top even. Bake at 325°F for 45-55 minutes, or until lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk, cream, vanilla and optional cinnamon (if using) in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. If needed, add milk in 1/4 teaspoon increments until glaze is thick but pourable. Place wax paper or aluminum foil under cake still on cooling rack. Drizzle glaze over cake and let stand at room temperate to set, about 15 minutes.

Toss strawberries and sugar in a bowl to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour until juices form.

Store cake covered at room temperature. To serve, cut cake into wedges and serve topped with strawberries and fresh mint.

  1. May 12, 2010 9:30 am

    looks a-mazing! i love your photos!

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      May 12, 2010 9:43 am

      Thank you Ash! :)

  2. May 12, 2010 8:06 pm

    I have been seriously thinking about making this (yes I’m behind as well) so I’m so glad to see you gave it a rave review!

  3. May 14, 2010 12:22 am

    that looks heavenly! perfect for tea (:

  4. May 15, 2010 10:55 am

    Beautiful photography as always! Love how perfect the glaze was drizzled over the bundt cake :)

  5. Angie McKaig permalink
    May 16, 2010 3:19 pm

    Amazing photography in this one! Fabulous job styling as well.

  6. May 19, 2010 1:55 am

    I love the tight crumb of your bundt cake! so perfect with strawberries.

  7. May 22, 2010 1:25 am

    This looks so great. It looks moist and delicious! WOuld you mind checking my blog out at

  8. May 23, 2010 10:30 am

    Your pictures are amazing! This cake is gorgeous and I can’t wait to make it! Just a quick question first – in the ingredient list, it calls for baking powder, but in the instructions, it says baking soda – which should I use? Thanks! :)

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      May 23, 2010 12:29 pm

      Oops, my mistake! It should be baking powder in both places. Sorry for the confusion – it’s been fixed. Hope you enjoy the cake :)

      • Anne permalink
        May 23, 2010 1:22 pm

        Oh, you’re super-quick – thanks for the reply! Off to bake this cake! :)

  9. shelly (cookies and cups) permalink
    May 25, 2010 8:39 am

    Yum! This sounds delicious! Strawberries are everywhere now, they look perfect with your cake!

  10. Dana permalink
    June 21, 2010 1:07 pm

    I have made this cake about three times and have tried to get the crumb to be smaller and finer (I am very picky about the texture of my cake crumbs). I have tried sifting the dry ingredients (using all-purpose flour) a few times & the crumbs still come out larger than I’d like. What is your secret to the beautiful texture of your version of this cake? Did you use cake flour? I am going to try the cake with cake flour the next time I make it.

    • The Craving Chronicles permalink*
      June 21, 2010 1:49 pm

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve having so much trouble getting the texture to be what you’d like in this cake! I’d say the texture of mine came out like a really light pound cake – not superfine, but not quite as dense as your average pound cake either. I definitely didn’t use cake flour and I didn’t sift – I just whisked all my dry ingredients together really well. I also made sure my butter was soft and beat it very well with the sugar. Other than that, I was just careful not to over mix the batter. If you do decide to try it with cake flour, let me know how it’s turns out!

  11. MichelleH permalink
    July 14, 2010 10:39 pm

    I just made this recipe and LOVE it! I, too, am an avid chocolate lover, but this is just amazing! Hubby, who is not a cake lover at all, is wild for it as well :) @Dana–craving is right, it is all about the mixing. I use a KitchenAid mixer, and also made sure to beat the butter/sugar really well. It still came out with nice crumb texture, but not super fine like what it seems you desire. Cake flour may indeed be the solution, who knows? I will be making this again for sure, strawberries or not lol!

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