Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bourbon Cake and a Family Wedding

One of the nice things about having a blog is that sometimes you meet random strangers who are your fans and stalkers.  They know about you, yet you know nothing about them.  It really is quite flattering whenever I do meet a new fan!  This past weekend I traveled to a family wedding and met quite a few people who knew who I was and followed my blog.  So this is a big shout out to my Front Royal stalkers!  Hey-yo!  It was nice meeting you all! : )

Me and my cousin on the farm - best.cousin.ever. : )

Now I have to tell you about this wedding I went to - it was off the hook crazy awesome!  It was so personalized, unique, and special that I don't even know where to begin.  Of course it was a family wedding, so those are always awesome in my opinion. : )

I guess I should start with the couple that got married.  The bride was my cousin who is slightly younger than me.  Growing up we were penpals, and it was awesome.  I vaguely remember trying to get her to like the bands Hanson and Sister Hazel - even back then she had good taste and wasn't interested....good call.  Anyway, she found her ideal match.  Their story was so funny and perfect for them.  They technically didn't even date - they were long time friends and they just skipped all that and got was epic.  Her new husband is a genuine person with a heart of gold, and I have no doubt that he will love her all of his days...couldn't of asked for a better addition to the family!  It is always so nice to see couples who are good for each other getting married, makes the wedding sooo much better!

So the ceremony and wedding Mass were lovely, nice music, awesome church, beautiful bride, great homily, happy guests, happy family, teary eyed bride and groom...and then rain.  Yes, rain.  Pretty sure as soon as they said their vows thunder and lighting struck down all around us and the sky went dark.  Fine for an indoor wedding, but the reception was scheduled to be outdoors under a canopy of trees.  Oh boy.  Everyone handled this kind of expected down pour with calmness and ease and the reception was postponed a hour.  No worries....this too shall pass...please.

the path to the reception one day after the wedding

The guests made their way down a muddy path to the water's edge and were pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful clearing with a dance floor and tables set up in a Celtic Cross formation (this family is Irish FYI - the die hard kind).  Even though the ground was wet and muddy the site was still so enchanting.  The lights in the trees, and the sunset were simply magical!  The Bride and Groom made a fashionable entrance on a river boat - it was epic.  Many people commented that they felt like they were characters in Lord of the Rings and that they were just waiting for the Hobbits to arrive. : )

making an entrance!

The guests all took their seats and feasted on a scrumptious meal of many courses!    Scallops and curried lentils, Leafy greens with balsamic dressing and candied walnuts (actually the walnuts didn't even make it on the plates - but rumor has it they were delicious), Lamb and red pepper kebabs, Portobello and tomato skewers, grilled chicken, a fabulous fruit and cheese tray, wine and more wine, and a scrumptious cake made by my little cousin.  The food was even more enjoyable knowing that so many of the friends and family of the bride helped prepare all the dishes.  I was even able to contribute 4 cakes to the feast!  I flew in Thursday night and then Friday morning I made cakes for about 2 hours - still don't know how I made them all so quickly!

Such a quaint farm!  I always love visiting this place : )

"Eat, drink, and be merry"  would pretty much sum up the evening!  The Beatles cover band was perfectly suited for a river's edge wedding, and all the guests danced late into the night.  I even saw a few people fall off the dance floor they were having so much fun. : )

This picture does not do the setting justice - but you get the idea.

Now don't get me wrong, this wedding was not perfect - only the boring ones are - many things went wrong - it rained, the table candles were forgotten, the favor candles were lit instead and some of the table clothes caught on fire...but it didn't matter.  At the end of the day a wedding is such a beautiful celebration of love, that even though all the details might not work out it doesn't matter.  A wedding is such a rare occasion where all the people the bride and groom have loved or been loved by all congregate together before God to show their love and support of 2 wonderful people as they start to share their lives together.  So even though the cake might fall over, or the bride might rip her dress -  no one cares because the space is filled with so much love and happiness all other things become meaningless.

One of the cakes I made for the cake table was a Bourbon Cake.  This cake is my Mom's go-to cake for special occasions and she often made it for our birthdays when we were kids.  It was also the cake that we served at my older sister's wedding.  Now traditionally this recipe uses a box mix and instant pudding - which was great when I ate boxed things, but since I now like to cook boxless my Mom and I played around with the recipe and came up with our own 100% from scratch recipe.  All I can say, is that I am super proud of how this recipe turned out, and predict making it very often

Why is the cake in the shape of the number 1...I have no idea...that is the pattern in which it was eaten.

Bourbon Cake from scratch
(original recipe from Teresa and Dagny Syversen) 

whisk the following dry ingredients together: 

4 1/2 cups flour

3 cups granulated sugar 
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt (not kosher)

Then add the following to the above dry ingredients and mix until combined:   

3 sticks butter (room temp)  
1 cup sour cream (room temp)
1/3 cup bourbon
3 eggs
6 yolks
4 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Once combined scrape down bowl and mix a few more seconds.  Pour into 2 13x9 greased and parchment lined cake pans or 2 greased bunt pans.

Sprinkle pans with 3 cups chopped pecan pieces
bake 350 for about 25 - 30 min until golden and toothpick comes out clean when inserted into middle of cake. (if in bunt pan it will take about an hour)

Once cake is cooked removed from oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes in pan.  Carefully remove from pan and flip onto a platter.  Using a sharp knife stab cake with lots of slits being careful not to make large holes or to let the cake fall apart.

In medium saucepan combine the following and bring to a boil, once it boils and the sugar is dissolved, and the butter is melted - remove from heat and add 4 TBSP Bourbon (or rum)

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water

Slowly pour glaze all over cake, being sure to spread it out and coat the whole cake evenly. 

Make this cake, go to a wedding, listen to this song, and eat your heart out.


What cake looks like after being attacked by a wedding

The wedding reception site morning after - isn't it lovely?

Wedding accomplished.  Now time for a nap on this perfect hammock.


  1. Ohhhhhh thank you so much for sharing a very special day!! such lovely photos - the cake looks awesome!
    Mary x

  2. Hi Dagny! It was great to see you again and admit my stalking talents! Have a great weekend!

  3. I went to college with that bourbon cake. It was and still is AWESOME!

  4. Anything with bourbon is good in my book! Just one more reason to indulge in some : ) Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Thanks Mary! Wish I could share some with you and chat about our love of good food! : ) Leslie! My favorite Stalker : )Good to see you again too! Junie - My Mom made this cake even when she was in college? Makes it even more awesome! Wait a second...where did you underage college kids get the bourbon? : )

  6. Hi Dagny. I was looking for your email address regarding a secret gift for Clare and Peter and couldnt find it on your website. (Im one of those weird non Facebook people). Could you please email me so that i can pester you? Have a great day!