A sweet slice of egg nog: Tasting the season

Expect this eggnog cake to be devoured with delight at holiday parties. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Here is a cake I created as a tribute to one of my favorite seasonal treats.  As the holidays near, I find myself anxiously awaiting the arrival of egg nog — anticipating its rich, creamy sweetness and the way it signals a new year on the horizon.  For me, one of the best ways to celebrate something delicious is not simply to eat or drink it, but to transform it into a dessert.  So why settle for having a glass of egg nog when I can eat it, too? (Actually, I admit I’m even more satisfied by a slice of this cake than I am by sipping the drink that inspired it.  And whenever I’ve brought this cake to parties, I’ve witnessed it being devoured with great delight – even by those who are otherwise egg nog averse.)

Scraping the seeds out of the vanilla bean. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Egg Nog Cake (serves 10)

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar, divided
1.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup egg nog
1/3 cup spiced rum*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 whole vanilla bean
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Folding egg whites into the batter. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour an 8″ round cake plan, or line with parchment. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites with 1/4 cup sugar until opaque and stiff (about 5 minutes); set aside. Whisk together the egg nog, rum and vanilla extract; set aside. In a separate, large bowl, cream the butter and remaining sugar, then sift the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and nutmeg over it. Begin to mix as you slowly pour in the egg nog mixture, stirring until batter is smooth and even. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and carefully scrape the seeds out with a knife. Add seeds to batter and mix until evenly distributed. Finally, fold the egg whites into the batter gradually and gently, just until mixed and even in texture (batter will be delicate and frothy).

Quickly spread the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, removing from oven when center tests clean with a toothpick, does not jiggle, and top is golden brown (don’t worry if there are some cracks on the surface).  Let cake cool in the pan at room temperature for at least an hour.  Loosen sides of cake with a knife, then invert it onto a plate. Using a sieve or sifter, dust the cake with about 1/3 cup powdered sugar. If desired, decorate with cranberries and peppermint leaves. Wondrous still warm or a bit heated up, this cake is best eaten within a day or two of baking. For premium texture, store at room temperature (not refrigerated), covered.

Wondrous still warm or a bit heated up, this cake is best eaten within a day or two of baking. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Spicy and sweet, this cake overflows with the goodness of the holiday season. Its speckles of vanilla bean and nutmeg taste luxurious within the creamy egg nog batter, while its moist crumb offers warm hints of rum in every bite. A sweet slice of egg nog: this is merry.

The cake’s speckles of vanilla bean and nutmeg taste luxurious within the creamy egg nog batter. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

*If you’re one who prefers brandy or bourbon over rum, feel free to substitute your liquor as you please. The boozey flavor in this cake is detectable but mild; if you like a stronger flavor, lightly brush another tablespoon or two on the top and sides of the baked cake. Or if you don’t want to use alcohol, substitute milk or apple juice.

You may be more satisfied by a slice of this cake than you are by sipping the drink that inspired it. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Moriah VanVleet is the voice behind Butter Sugar Flowers where this post first appeared.

This story is published on Berkeleyside and on Berkeleyside NOSH, our new food section covering Oakland and Berkeley. Bookmark Berkeleyside NOSH and follow Berkeleyside NOSH on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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