Bourbon Praline Pound Cake does good with good gifts.

Bourbon Praline Pound Cake

Home-grown heirloom pecans and good bourbon whiskey are not things to be wasted. We thought this rich-but-light, bourbony-but-not-overly-so pound cake was an excellent way to use both.

Every year we receive a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon from our neighbor, a sign of appreciation for allowing him, his horse and his fox hunting friends free access through our land. Because Steve enjoys bourbon whiskey but is not much of a drinker, and Michelle despises the stuff, the bottles tend to accumulate (unless, as occasionally happens, friends or family members happen by and “re-gift” to themselves).


We also gained a bag of pecans courtesy of Michelle’s parents, who got them as part of an organic CSA just down the road from the family farm—a hopeful sign for Western Kentucky agriculture. These were slightly different than the ones from Michelle’s grandfather’s tree, but still much fresher and more full of pecan flavor than the ones we usually pick up at the store.

Michelle saw a recipe for “Mississippi Praline Pound Cake” in Bill Neal’s Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie and (despite being a bourbon hater) decided it sounded good. One of the more interesting things about this recipe is that it essentially creates praline flavor within the cake, without the crumbled praline candies most “praline pound cake” recipes call for. Beaten egg whites made the cake lighter and fluffier than other pound cakes when fresh from the oven, though by the next day the texture had collapsed to a more familiar one. We didn’t mind at all.

Bourbon Praline Pound Cake

This cake has a marvelously sweet pecan flavor and a lovely layer of oaky, smoky bourbon as well. Michelle can attest that it’s good for dessert or breakfast, and Steve recommends a little whipped cream topping. You won’t find a better way to use pecans or bourbon.


(adapted from Bill Neal’s Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie)


  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 c. (3 sticks) room-temperature butter
  • 1 c. lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 room-temperature eggs, separated
  • 7/8 c. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 TB bourbon whiskey
  • 1 c. chopped pecans, toasted and cooled
  • 1/2 c. white sugar


  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
  • 4 TB butter
  • 2 TB water
  • 1/4 c. bourbon whiskey

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Butter and flour a 10″ diameter tube pan. Sift salt, baking powder, soda and flour together, then set aside. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugars together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg yolks, then alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 parts. Stir in vanilla, bourbon and pecans.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until frothy, then slowly drizzle in the white sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter, then turn the mixture into the prepared tube pan.

Bake in center of oven for about 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack for about 15 minutes, then remove from pan.

While cake is cooling, prepare the glaze by melting the brown sugars, butter and water together. Bring to a full boil. Remove from heat, stirring in the bourbon when the glaze has cooled slightly. While the cake is still warm, spoon the glaze over its surface.


    • Thanks, Angelica! That is actually the back of an old pasta rolling board that belonged to Steve’s parents. I turned it over a month or so ago and couldn’t believe how interesting the underside looked. Now I keep appropriating it for photos!

  1. Happy New Year Michelle and Steve. This pound cake looks delicious. And those pecans… I am really jealous. Pecans are hardly ever found in their shells here, and they usually don’t taste like much, unless you are ready to pay the price. They have just enough pecan flavor to make me crave more…

    • It is right up your alley, isn’t it? Come visit one day and you might even get a bottle of bourbon with Steve’s and my names on it (misspelled in some different way each year).

    • I almost did a pecan pie, but few of the pecans came out whole. Decades ago, my mom and I tried scores of different pecan pie recipes, trying to find what we thought was the very best one. (My favorite: dark corn syrup and dark brown sugar.)

  2. Simply gorgeous. Those pecan photos make me want to run out and buy a bag and start cracking. They are so fragile, and sadly, since we had such a poor crop this year, they are very expensive. Thank you for putting them into something that will help them to shine. Happy New Year!

  3. Bet those bottles of bourbon get passed around a lot this time of year down there. Bourbon and pecans — that would be like me doing a post on tequila and avocados. 🙂 Happy New Year!

  4. As a fellow bourbon hater, I can say that this looks awesome! I too have a few bottles that have been gifted to me over the years that only come out when certain friends are over. This seems like an excellent way to use them up!

  5. Hi, Steve and Michelle,
    This recipe speaks to me. Like Michelle, my husband is a “pecan connoisseur.” He grew up in Georgia, you see. Occasionally, his mother will send us “the real deal.” These pecans taste nothing like the store-bought, run-of-the-mill variety; they are oh-so-good. Next time I receive a batch, we will make your fabulous cake. As for bourbon, it is lovely in baked goods; it lends a richness and depth of flavor. Oh, and I concur with Sheryl – your photos are (always) fantastic.
    Warm wishes,

    • And to you also! I was surprised that I liked it. I froze most of it thinking it would come in handy next time my family is in town. Now I want to run out to the freezer and thaw it out.

  6. rammiegirl

    it’s raining this weekend and I can’t wait to try out this cake! Just came across your blog and LOVE it. Looking forward to many more reads (and tons of catch up!). Have a good weekend!

  7. rammiegirl

    Reblogged this on Rammiegirl 2.0 and commented:
    I came across this recipe from Ms. Shanna, and it sounds absolutely amazing. This weekend is headed for rain, rain, and more rain so after this Polar Vortex schebang, I’m ready for some southern flavors and comfort food! This combines three things I love: pecans, whisky, and pound cake! I almost never make pound cake because it is so decadent and just impossible for the current health plan that I just endorsed for the new year, but I will definitely be making this as soon as the plan is OVER after April, and I have completed my second half-marathon.

    This is yet another great food blog with some amazing ideas that I can’t wait to try out. I will definitely update this on the Friends page but for now, I hope you enjoy this re-post of what looks to be a wonderful recipe!

    • Thanks, Raymund. I’m in my Brown Period. 😉 I told Steve tonight that we have got to make something colorful soon, as the blog is drowning in a sea of brown.

  8. Caroline @ The Patterned Plate

    Ooh I like the look and sound of this. And I have bourbon in the cupboards and pecans too. Love the brown and brown tones too, it seems so richly tactile somehow. Lovely 🙂

  9. My husband isn’t much of a dessert eater but he does like pound cake. I’ve got a quart jar of pecans sitting on my baking cupboard just begging to be used…thanks for sharing this terrific sounding cake recipe.

    • I think you’ll like it, Karen. I was completely surprised at how much I did, being the bourbon-hater that I am. (I know, I know … it’s blasphemy from a Kentuckian.)

  10. Oh gosh, this just looks amazing, and I love that you get to experience and slightly unusual texture for the cake and then it resembles a more traditional one later, best of both worlds!! The photography on this is beautiful also. Amazing work guys.

  11. Pingback: Pecan Bourbon Pound Cake (Full of Gluten, Full of Sugar) | Cooking Up Kefi

  12. Thanks for such a great recipe- I couldn’t believe how not-overwhelmingly-sweet it was. It was a big hit at the superbowl party! This will definitely become a regular in our house when we need to bring a cake somewhere.

    • So glad it worked for you (though I can’t myself take much credit for anything other than finding the recipe). I’ve got half of mine out in the freezer. And if the bad weather keeps up much longer here, I’m definitely getting it out. And maybe sprinkling some fresh bourbon over it. 🙂

  13. Miriam

    Wow, this cake looks amazing! Though I, too, am not the biggest fan of drinking bourbon, I love it in sweets and desserts. Any suggestions for scaling this down for a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan? Would just halving the recipe work?

  14. I just made this last night for some bourbon lovers from Kentucky, and we were all blown away. This was a delicious cake with no adjustments made to the recipe whatsoever. It’s going in my holiday rotation for sure!

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