It’s Derby time again! As always, it snuck up on me this year. Between Mother’s Day, the usual spring Marvel movie release, and life in general, it can be tough to remember that the Triple Crown is also about to start. The standard Derby fare for my home viewing “parties” (a.k.a. the times I sit on the couch eating food and making Josh watch a horse race) usually includes mint juleps, Kentucky hot browns, and pecan pie. Last year, I made some horse-themed cupcakes for dessert. This year, I decided to change it up a little and turn the mint juleps into a bundt cake instead.
This cake is based on the rum cake that everyone loves so much. Switching the rum with bourbon and infusing the syrupy glaze with mint turns it from Puerto Rican favorite to Kentucky Derby delight with minimal effort. For the full effect, it’s best to let your syrup infuse overnight. I
procrastinated was short on time, so mine sat for about 7 hours, and when all was said and done, I thought it could have been mintier. If you have a shortened time frame, you can add a teaspoon of peppermint extract to the cake along with the rest of the ingredients to make sure it really packs a minty punch.
I did make the syrup a little differently than I describe here. I followed the recipe for the rum cake glaze (i.e., I melted the butter, added the water and sugar, boiled it for 5 minutes, then added the bourbon), then poured it over the mint to infuse the flavor into it. It soaked up a lot of flavor in the very beginning, but I felt it didn’t achieve peak mintiness through this method. Therefore, I’ve changed the directions to a method I think should work better. Let me know how it turns out for you!
You will need the following ingredients:
For the cake:
- 1 cup ground pecans
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup bourbon whiskey
For the mint julep glaze:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- 12 sprigs fresh mint
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- ½ cup bourbon whiskey
Let’s get baking!
The night before you plan to make the cake, prepare the mint syrup. Stir together the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat just enough that the syrup doesn’t boil over and cook it for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick.
Place the fresh mint into a heat-proof bowl and crush the leaves with the back of a spoon.
Pour the hot syrup over the mint and stir a few times.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate the syrup for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
The next day, preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease a bundt pan and flour it (or spray it with Baker’s Joy, which is excellent for this purpose). Sprinkle the ground pecans evenly over the bottom of the pan.
In a large bowl, beat together all remaining cake ingredients (including the 1 tsp. of peppermint extract if you choose to use it) for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Spread the batter in the bundt pan on top of the nuts. Gently shake it side-to-side to distribute the batter, then drop the pan about 5 times on the counter to release any air bubbles.
Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean. The cake will be golden brown, and will spring back when you press it.
Now, you need to turn the mint syrup you infused overnight into the glaze. Melt the stick of butter in a small saucepan, then strain the mint syrup into the butter. Squeeze any remaining syrup out of the mint leaves and then discard them. Whisk the mixture together until combined and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add the bourbon, stirring continuously.
The syrup should return to a boil almost instantly. If it doesn’t, increase the heat just enough to do so. Cook for one minute more, then remove the syrup from the heat.
Using a barbecue skewer, poke holes all over the exposed part of the cake while it is still in the bundt pan. Pour about half of the glaze onto the cake.
Cover the bundt pan with plastic wrap (when it is cool enough not to melt the plastic wrap) and let it sit until the glaze is fully-absorbed (I let mine sit overnight).
Once the glaze has absorbed, flip the cake onto your serving plate of choice. Spoon or brush the remaining glaze all over the top and sides of the cake.
Serve as is or with whipped cream, and store any leftovers in an airtight container (pssh, like there will be leftovers). Enjoy!
You can download the printable PDF recipe here: Mint Julep Bundt Cake