Editor's note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn't. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan and cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
Have you got your green on? Many of us soon will as we honor the patron saint of Ireland with some serious drinking, eating and indulging. If your celebration includes a homemade meal, consider adding this Bailey's Bundt cake to your menu.
While it's good enough to enjoy any time of year, the fact that it features Irish cream liqueur makes it a perfect way to end a St. Patrick's Day feast. Moist, with a tender crumb and the haunting taste of the liqueur, this bundt will please anyone who's in the mood to kiss the Blarney stone.
There's nothing tricky to making the cake. Dry ingredients are whisked together in one bowl; butter, cream cheese, sugars, and vanilla are beaten in another; and eggs in a third. Then, they are combined, one at a time, until the batter is silky smooth and ready for the pan. Only one precaution: Don't overbake this Irish beauty or it will lose its appealing texture.
To gild the lily, serve the cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and, perhaps, an additional drizzle of the liqueur.
While Bailey's is the most well-known Irish cream liqueur, other brands can be substituted for it in this recipe.
Bailey's bundt cake
(Adjusted for altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet.)
11⁄4 plus 3 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour
1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature (regular or low-fat)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed, fresh light brown sugar
1⁄4 plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
11⁄4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
11⁄2 large eggs (For half an egg, beat one egg to combine yolk and white, measure 2 tablespoons of this mixture.)
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream liqueur
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cream or milk
1 tablespoon Bailey's Irish Cream
About 1⁄2 cup confectioner's sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Generously spray a six-cup Bundt pan (even if it's nonstick) with a flour-vegetable oil spray. Coat everything, including the center tube section, very well (cakes stick to the pan at our altitude). Set the pan aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside. In a larger bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the room-temperature cream cheese, butter, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla until they are very well combined (3-5 minutes, depending how soft the cream cheese and butter are). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Place the one-and-a-half eggs in a small bowl or measuring cup and whisk to combine. In three additions, add this mixture to the cream cheese-butter batter, beating until blended after each addition. Add the flour mixture to this, alternating it with the Bailey's Irish Creme liqueur, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat on low speed only until completely blended after each addition. Don't overbeat.
Pour or spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling it only until the batter comes to about an inch and a half from the pan's top. Level the batter, and tap the pan gently on a counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Place the filled pan directly on the middle oven rack and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This takes from 36-40 minutes in my oven, but start checking earlier; the cake will dry out if over-baked. Remove it to a cooling rack. After about ten minutes, carefully invert the cake on the rack, remove the pan, and cool completely. The cake, wrapped airtight, can be frozen at this point; defrost before glazing.
Make the glaze: Warm the unsalted butter and cream/milk until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add the Bailey's Irish Cream. Stir until fully combined. Gradually add the confectioner's sugar until the glaze reaches a good consistency and, then, drizzle decoratively over the cake. The cake can be kept, airtight, at a cool temperature for one to two days.
The unglazed cake is a variation of one in "Enlightened Cakes."
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC's Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.