This weekend marks another Kentucky Derby and many will be at the event, watching the race at a sports bar or at home, or perhaps forgetting about it entirely.  But wherever you are, you can always honor the tradition of big hats, seersucker suits, Mint Juleps, silver trays, and walking around in mud or dirt.  This year, I’m cheering for Verrazano for no other reason that I like the name.  In fact, Giovanni da Verrazano was a Florentine navigator who explored the eastern coast of North America and was the first European to enter New York Bay in 1524.  I think this horse will win.  Really.

What better way to honor my projected winner and celebrate the Kentucky Derby than by pairing an Italian wine, 2010 Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore, with this delicious Kentucky Bourbon Cake?  To be honest, those of us who shared the wine and cake were thrilled that it was a winning combination – a clear example of betting on contenders who may not be on everyone’s list!

**2010 Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore – Showing pale straw in the glass with floral and citrus aromas, this crisp wine consisting of 60% Malvasia and 40% Trebbiano grapes set the pace with its refreshing apples, peaches, and nutty flavors.  But what was surprising about the Frascati was that this dry wine let the bourbon in the cake shine!  We continued to taste the nuances of the wine yet the nutty sweetness of the Kentucky Bourbon Cake had its chance, too~ Ahhhh, a beautiful finish across the board!


Kentucky Bourbon Cake


  • 1½ cups unsalted butter
  • 2¼ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Kentucky bourbon, preferably Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 5½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 3½ cups pecans, coarsely chopped


  • Spray 10-inch tube (bundt) pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pre-heat oven to 300*F.
  • With an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. In another bowl, combine white and brown sugar, mixing thoroughly. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, gradually work half the sugar mixture into the butter, keeping it as smooth as possible.
  • In another bowl, beat eggs until fluffy and light. Gradually beat the remaining sugar mixture into the eggs until smooth and creamy. Fold thoroughly into the butter sugar mixture.
  • In another bowl, sift flour and salt together.
  • Using an electric mixer, slowly add the flour and Bourbon to the batter, alternating them and beginning and ending with the flour.
  • Stir chopped pecans into the batter. Pour into a well-greased 10-inch tube pan. The batter will nearly fill it. Bake in a preheated oven for 1½ to 1¾ hours until the cake shrinks slightly from the sides of the pan. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and turn out on a rack to cool completely. The cake needs time to ripen. Wrap cake in foil and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Do not freeze this cake.
  • To serve: slice cake into 12 to 14 slices.


Cheers to some clear, yet surprising, winners! ~ Cindy

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