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the dude abides

Recipe: white russian cake

Summer is meant for…


getting together with friends

and trying out new restaurants in town

scoping new blooms on the trail

admiring cumulonimbus at sunset



Summer isn’t necessarily meant for baking, at least not if you are me and become rather cranky when temperatures rise above 75°F. But that’s what I did over the weekend against my better judgment. It all started when Jeremy and I were cruising through Whole Foods a few months ago and a woman at the cake counter asked if we would like to sample some cake. Well… hell yes!

let’s make cake

and pour it into the pans

sliced layers



It was a slice of a Kim and Jake’s cake. Kim and Jake’s is a bakery in Boulder that specializes in adult cakes. I don’t mean anatomically correct adult cakes, I mean boozy cakes like Daiquiri, Strawberry Margarita, Dark and Stormy, or in this instance… White Russian. It wasn’t bad. I thought it could have used more booze, but I’m sure Whole Foods isn’t in the business of distributing cake strong enough to require a liquor license. I wondered what the heck is in a White Russian. I’m only familiar with the drink because of The Big Lebowski, a movie that is dearly loved in this house. So a White Russian contains vodka, coffee liqueur, and light cream.

heavy cream for the whipped frosting

kahlua and vodka to soak the cake



The cocktail has more vodka than coffee liqueur, but I thought that would be a bit much in a cake. I reversed the proportions (2:1 Kahlua to vodka). Rather than using light cream, I whipped heavy cream for the frosting. Whipped cream, in and of itself, doesn’t have much in the way of structural stability. I suggest adding some gelatin to the frosting to help it maintain its shape and strength – either that or reduce the number of layers in the cake. My usual way of soaking cake layers with liquid is to brush it on with a pastry brush which always ends up being disappointingly “not moist enough”. Of course, if I pour from the measuring cup, the distribution is uneven and usually results in a few inadvertent puddles on the counter.

platypus to the rescue

filling the water bladder with booze

controlled spray on the cake layer



It worked well enough, although in hindsight, I really think I could have added even more booze to the cake. I’ve tried spray bottles in the past and that not only takes forever, but leaves a sticky mist on everything. Frosting the cake with whipped cream is so easy because the topping is light and fluffy. Just take care that the layers don’t start leaning one way or another as you stack them higher. Again, it helps to have a stabilizer like gelatin in the whipped cream.

frosting a layer

and the top of the cake

a touch of color



Jeremy likes the cake very much. It’s a light and boozy cake, but I also think he likes it because the White Russian is The Dude’s beverage of choice. Considering how straightforward it is to make and assemble compared to other layer cakes, this one is at the threshold of my tolerance for what I’ll willingly bake in summer. And it is sure to be a hit with anyone who loves a White Russian and/or The Big Lebowski.

serves you and all of your bowling pals

bathrobe not included



White Russian Cake
[print recipe]

4 half-inch layers of 9-inch round vanilla chiffon cake
1/2 cup water (optional)
2 tsps gelatin (optional)
1 quart heavy whipping cream
sugar to taste (about 4 tbsps)
1 cup coffee liqueur
1/2 cup vodka

vanilla chiffon cake
makes two 9×3-inch rounds

14.5 oz cake flour (all-purpose flour @8500 ft.)
8.75 oz confectioner’s sugar
0.5 oz baking powder (omit @ 8500 ft.)
6.75 oz whole milk
6 oz canola oil
3.25 oz eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
13 oz egg whites
9.5 oz granulated sugar

Oven 375°F. Prep pan by butter bottom and sides. Place parchment in pan and butter the parchment. Sift dry ingredients (except granulated sugar) into a large bowl. Mix all ingredients (except the 13 oz of egg whites and granulated sugar) in the large bowl until combined. Whip whites and granulated sugar to medium peaks. Fold into batter gently. Bake until set, about 20-25 minutes (do the toothpick test – no goop on toothpick… 35 minutes for me). Remove from oven and remove from pan. Let cool on a rack. You can get 3 layers from one cake, or four layers from two cakes… it all depends on how tall you want your cake and how many layers of cake you want.

Whipped cream frosting: Combine the water and gelatin and allow to soften for five minutes. Heat in a microwave a minute at a time, stirring after each minute, until the gelatin has dissolved. Let sit until cooled (don’t add it hot into the whipped cream). Whip the heavy cream and sugar together on high speed until medium peaks. Add the gelatin in a steady stream to the whipped cream while continually beating until stiff peaks form. [Or just beat the whipped cream and sugar to stiff peaks without the gelatin.]

Mix the coffee liqueur and vodka together.

Assembly: Place a base layer, bottom-side-down on your serving plate (I like to line mine around the edges with strips of wax paper). Pour a quarter of the booze evenly over the cake layer. Spread a layer of whipped cream frosting over the cake. Set a second layer of cake on the frosted layer. Repeat until the last layer (should be the other base). Soak the cut side of that layer with the remaining booze and carefully flip that onto the top of the cake. Frost the sides (crumb coat first, then frost) and the top of the cake. Decorate as desired. Serves 12. Consume immediately (as if I need to tell you to do so!) or refrigerate for a few days.

47 nibbles at “the dude abides”

  1. Sarah says:

    Absolutely gorgeous cake! love the crystal clear pics!

  2. Rosa says:

    A splendid cake! It looks really divine and perfect.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. Mrs Ergül says:

    I’m not a fan of summer since that is about all we get all year round. It is no fun I tell ya! Nonetheless, your summer looks fab! Keep it comin’, Jen!

  4. Alisa says:

    Jen you just made my day!

  5. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga says:

    You are a girl after my own heart. Adding booze to cake. And then feeling like you could have added even MORE!

    Butter, sugar, cream, whipped cream, kahlua and vodka to soak the cake…oh we are going to be BFFs at food & light when it comes to sampling desserts!

  6. amy says:

    awesome-I may make these as cupcakes for a 4th of july party. LOVE LOVE the platypus idea. Only in Boulder. BTW, where is the delish looking sandwich from? Thanks!

  7. Michelle says:

    It is kind of disapointing when a cake calls its boozy but is a let down and leaves one wondering… problem solved – DIY! I am all over this one!

  8. joanne says:

    Oh! That baby! What a picture!

  9. Heidi @ Food Doodles says:

    Mmm that looks gorgeous. Love the change in color from the Kahlua. Makes it look so pretty, and I bet it tasted amazing! I love that picture of the cloud by way. Gorgeous!

  10. Grace Boyle @ Grace(full) Plate says:

    STOP! This looks so good. I must go bake this, like right now :)

  11. JelliDonut says:

    Awesome! We just made White Russians this past weekend. Never thought to put them in a CAKE. Off to the liquor store for more coffee liqueur!

  12. Olga says:

    That looks devine! I am a huge fan of the White Russian drink (I am one :)), so this sounds like the absolute perfect cake. Amazing. I love cakes that have a lot of soaking.

    I’ve had success using a baster to soak my cakes.

    I would imagine that it would not stand for very long – do you think it needs to be made the day of consumption or could it stand in the fridge for a night? So many perishable ingredients involved.

  13. Bing Chou says:

    I’m curious – does the Platypus make your water taste like booze? A long-ago fellow hiker used to drink whiskey from his, and any water he put it in (you can’t drink whiskey all the time, can you?) from there forward didn’t taste right.

  14. Tricia says:

    LOVE. LOVE, LOVE The Big Lebowski. I just know I am going to love this cake, too. Cheers!

  15. Sue says:

    What do you do with all the leftover egg yolks when you make this cake?

  16. polyphany says:

    You don’t need to add gelatin, just whip the cream longer. It takes a little over 20 minutes to make butter with heavy whipping cream in your Kitchen-Aid, whip the cream for 15 minutes and it’s stable enough to frost a cake.

  17. Anna says:

    I made a chocolate black russian cake for a friend last weekend and I too thought it could use more booze, so I spiked the whipped cream with Baileys (as a result, we had to rename the cake… apparently adding Baileys was blasphemous). That added the extra hit I was looking for though and it came out great. I love your idea of filling up the Platypus with booze…might come in handy on those long hikes :D

  18. Nicolle says:

    Looks yummy!

    To properly soak the cake why not try dipping the layers. Use a pie plate (or something slightly larger in diameter than your cake slices) and then lay them in the alcohol mixture for a few seconds to soak (think french toast). Also thining out the mixture with simple syrup is also a good way to get more “moistness” without using too much booze.

  19. Sara @ Saucy Dipper says:

    I’m not crazy about baking, but this really does make me want to make a cake!

  20. Barbara says:

    Twenty-five ears ago when I took a cooking class and learned to make a Black Forest Cake, we used a baby’s sippy cup with 3 holes in the sippy lid to sprinkle the liqueur on the cake. Perfect!

  21. Jen says:

    When I was in college we used to frequent this hole in the wall bar that specialized in white russians. Man they tasted good at 3am. I think I’m grown up enough now to have a white russian earlier than 3am, and perhaps even to make it in a cake!

  22. sweet road says:

    This cake looks so beautiful, I love the layers! Plus, soaked cakes add so much more depth to the flavor.

  23. Joy says:

    The cake is beautiful. I so admire your work.

  24. Julia says:

    I meant this as a response to your following post about joy but I didn’t want to login with facebook or the other deal so…:

    I am from Texas but have a family house about 30 miles from Boulder and this week, this area has been joy! You are such a gifted photographer, I love all of them in this post. Heck, I want some for my own! Keep up the great work, this blog is definitely a gem I’ve found.

    Just wanted to let you know that you are an inspiration and should keep up the good work!

  25. Elena (running in heels after child) says:

    I need to make this but I am going to have to be sneaky so my kids don’t try to eat it.

  26. Nan says:

    Man o man, you’re pushing all my buttons with this one. White Russian and cake all rolled into one, plus the Big Lebowski? What more does one need.

    I adore cake! A white cake with white frosting is my personal fave. Add booze and it is stellar. I’m making this for sure.

    And just for the record, that little face in the first photo is absolutely adorable — those incredible blue eyes! What a cutie pie!

  27. Margaret says:

    Thanks so much for this!! I have been waiting for the right cake recipe to show itself and here it is. I can’t wait to make this……hooray. You are amazing and I look forward to your blog entries with anticipation. Kudos to you!

  28. Shelley says:

    You guys love The Big Lebowski?!? I like you even more now :)

  29. Hannah@ Bake Five says:

    that kid is too cuuute! :D and oh, the cake. Beautiful!

  30. MJ says:

    What a divine recipe! My only problem is, after googling Platypus, it seems as though I can’t get one! No retailers within 50 miles of my house and no online retailers? Oh well, I will try the sippy cup suggestion.

  31. Bridget says:

    It seems like a squeeze bottle would work just as well as the platypus, and be so much easier to clean. Maybe it’s just me, but I hate cleaning my camelbak bladder, even when it only had water in it.

  32. Cookin Canuck says:

    That is hilarious that you used your platypus! This cake sounds like a good excuse to turn on the oven, even in these crazy temperatures. Looking forward to meeting you at EVO!

  33. Kevin says:

    Nice looking cake and a great recipe. I am going to try my hand at it tomorrow. And Kahula and vodka make anything taste better. Thanks for sharing.

  34. jenyu says:

    Averie – truth be told, I like to make cakes (except when it’s hot out) but I don’t really dig on eating them. So I’ll just give the cake to you.

    amy – that was at Tangerine which is part of Arugula (on 28th and Iris). The food was good. The service was meh. Very hit or miss with my group (some plates were great and others were not).

    joanne – isn’t he adorable? I just want to eat him up he’s soooo cute.

    JelliDonut – I wonder if you should just make the cake, make some White Russians, and then dump the White Russians on the cake?

    Olga – a baster? That sounds like such a good idea! I don’t actually own one (which may explain why I have never tried that). Thanks!

    Bing Chou – well, I have used it several times since the cake and the first time had a slight taste, but it has since gone. Of course, I did rinse it out pretty thoroughly.

    Sue – I made two batches of ice cream (coffee heath bar crunch and chocolate).

    polyphany – even whipped to really stiff peaks (which changes the texture some) tends to slide and deform under the weight of several layers of cake plus 1.5 cups of liquid :(

    Anna – great idea. I just worried that adding Kahlua to the whipped cream would make it beige which wasn’t the look I was going for.

    Nicolle – if you dipped the layers of cake, you run the very likely possibility of the cake layer breaking apart before you can transfer it back to the main cake.

    Barbara – great idea!

    Julia – thanks :)

    Nan – he is such a sweet little boy too. Kinda irresistible!

    Margaret – why thank you!

    Shelley – word.

    MJ – you can find them at REI. google Platypus hydration packs

    Bridget – my squeeze bottles don’t have a good mechanism to control shut off the way the Platypus bite valve does. I don’t actually like the camelbak bladders AT ALL. I have replaced all of my camelbak bladders (that come with the packs) with Platypus bladders.

    Cookin Canuck – come by and say hi!!

  35. Lily says:

    Curious.. I’m trying to convert your measurements and am wondering if your OZ are fluid or weight?

  36. jenyu says:

    Lily – fluid for fluids, weight for solids including eggs.

  37. 3 Must Try White Russian Cake Recipes | Taste Station Blog says:

    [...] White Russian Layer Cake [...]

  38. Tish says:

    Wow! Great idea. Another way to stabilize whipped cream is, once it starts to thicken, drizzle melted white chocolate into it as it finishes. The cream stabilizes beautifully, doesn’t need any added sugar, and gives a velvety finish that most people will adore but not be able to place…

  39. To “White Russian” with Love… « all things splendid says:

    [...] via Use Real Butter [...]

  40. Lindsay says:

    Is this cake okay it if it is made the night before or will it get soggy? ?I know it would be a big hit at my potluck if it would survive the night!

  41. jenyu says:

    Lindsay – It should be okay, although I would recommend using one of the techniques (that other commenters have suggested) to stabilize the whipped cream frosting.

  42. Rosalie says:

    Dude!!!!! This looks deeelish! Will make it for the next girls get-together. Any more booze cake recipes please?

  43. Ann says:

    This cake looks amazing!very excited about trying to make this cake for hubby’s birthday tomorrow. We are in the Uk. The recipe calls for 3.25oz eggs and 13oz egg whites. How do you measure the egg weight? Sorry if this is a stupid question in UK most recipes ask for an amount of eggs or whites e.g. 3 eggs or 2 egg whites so I’ve never weighed/measured eggs before.

  44. jenyu says:

    Ann – well, 3.25 ounces of eggs is on average about 2 large eggs (not extra large). As for 13 ounces of egg whites, because I make a lot of desserts using egg yolks, I store my egg whites in a plastic container in the refrigerator (it lasts for months). I pour the egg whites into a vessel that sits on a kitchen scale to measure it out. It tends to be more of a professional baking method (the recipe comes from a pastry course I took years ago). If you don’t have a kitchen scale, then try 1 large egg white = 1 ounce as a rule of thumb. Best of luck.

  45. Christa M says:

    Hello,
    I want and would love to make this cake for my friend’s surprise birthday party. I am not familiar with the measurements, I live in the USA. Here everything is in cups, spoons and 2 or 3 eggs. I do not know how to convert this recipe; but this cake would be absolutely perfect for the surprise birthday party. Any help is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you!

  46. jenyu says:

    Christa M – I live in the USA too (Colorado, to be specific). And here in the USA, not everything is in cups, spoons, and whole eggs :) These measurements are given in WEIGHTS versus VOLUMES because things like flour and powdered sugar can vary in amounts if you use cups (think about sifted flour versus unsifted – they will give you different amounts of flour per cup and your cake results will be different). It’s what professional and more advanced bakers tend to use. So my suggestion is to borrow a kitchen scale from a friend or just spring for one on amazon (the oxo $50 one is awesome) and weigh the ingredients.

  47. Christa M says:

    Thanks Jenyu, I will get one and try it. I really want to make this cake!

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