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Southern Holiday Nut Cake

We’re celebrating the beginning of the Winter season with this delicious Southern Holiday Nut Cake. It’s perfect for all of your holiday baking needs! A rich and dense molasses-y cake loaded full with a mix of raisins and chopped pecans. Oh, and a splash of bourbon to round out the delicious flavors. Honestly, this cake is mouthwatering and oh so good. Every bite is layered with crunchy pecans, raisins, bourbon, and hints of molasses. It’s so simple, but it tastes exquisite! The best part? There is just enough batter to hold in all the delicious goodies. Once baked, serve warm for a cake that quite literally melts in your mouth. This is the perfect nut cake for any and all occasions. Bonus? It’s so much easier to make than you might think, and it makes for the perfect gift during the holiday season!

nut cake with a slice taken out of it on a white plate with fairy lights, greenery, and glasses

→ This post is also available as a Web Story: Bourbon Nut Cake

About The Recipe

Making this cake is a tradition in our house. I’m not kidding! The holidays don’t start until this cake is freshly baked and being enjoyed by our friends and family.

I can remember making this with my mom as a little girl. It was something all of our friends and family loved and always asked for come Christmas time! I can’t tell you how many times we’ve given this cake as a gift because that’s all someone wanted.

It’s truly special. I know that’s weird to say that about a cake, but there’s just something about it. It’s not your traditional fruit cake, it’s not a traditional nut cake, it’s something for everyone!

Plus, this cake has a secret technique to keep it fresh and moist, even after it’s been sitting out for a few days!

You ready?

You need to douse this cake with a capful (about 1 tablespoon) of bourbon every few days!

It maintains the cake’s moisture, making it incredibly delicious. Every bite feels like indulging in a freshly baked treat, especially when generously soaked. This has become a holiday tradition for us, creating it at the beginning of the season and enjoying it all the way through Christmas.

nutcake on a white plate with greenery, glasses, and fairy-lights behind

There is no better way to start your day than with a mug of your favorite coffee and a large slice of this special bourbon nut cake.

Equipment Needed

Ingredients

  • Molasses – Adding a deep, rich flavor that really pulls the whole cake together, molasses also contributes to the sweetness.
  • Baking Soda – While neutralizing the acid in the molasses, baking soda also contributes to the rise.
  • Pecans – The classic sweet, buttery, nutty pecan is the perfect nut to use in this cake.
  • Raisins – Adding textural contrast to the pecans, raisins also contribute sweetness.
  • All-Purpose Flour – The flour in this cake serves a dual purpose. First, as the base ingredient, it creates the structure of the cake. And second, the pecans and raisins are tossed with an additional portion before adding them to the batter to keep them from sinking to the bottom.
  • Cinnamon – Adding to the warmth and depth of flavor, cinnamon adds a sweet and spicy kick.
  • Ground Cloves – With a more intense, warm flavor, cloves also contribute to the depth and warmth of the flavors in this cake.
  • Salted Butter – Adding richness and moisture to the cake, butter also contributes to the overall flavor.
  • Granulated Sugar – Not only does it sweeten the cake, sugar contributes to the crumb and texture.
  • Eggs – The binder for the filling, eggs also contribute structure, stability, moisture, and richness.
  • Bourbon – An ingredient found in lots of Southern cakes and pies, bourbon adds warmth and complexity.
raisins, chopped pecans, butter, eggs, flour, molasses, bourbon, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and sugar in glass bowls on marble counter

Instructions

Mix the molasses and baking soda together with a spoon. It will start to expand and become a beautiful caramel color. Once it reaches about one cup, set it aside.

In a large bowl, combine chopped pecans, raisins, and 1/2 cup flour. Set aside.

Whisk together the remaining flour, cinnamon, and ground gloves.

In the mixer with the beater attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. About 3-5 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time. Make sure to beat well after each addition.

Pour in the molasses mixture and mix thoroughly.

Add the flour mixture and mix well! Scrape down the sides as needed.

Stir in the raisins and chopped pecans.

Add the bourbon and mix well!

bourbon stirred into nut cake batter

Transfer the batter into the prepared bundt or tube pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours!

Let the cake cool in the pan before turning out. Serve and enjoy!

What To Serve With This Nut Cake

The best thing about this cake is that it’s a great breakfast, snack, or even dessert! So, whether you’re feeding your whole family or just yourself, here are a few of our favorite things to serve with this cake!

How To Store

Once this cake is baked and cooled, you can store it in a large cake plate and keep covered on the counter for about one month. Just remember to keep it doused with bourbon!

Substitutions

  • You can use any kind of dried fruit you like!
  • Same with nuts. Not a fan of pecans? Feel free to use almonds or walnuts!
  • We use bourbon, but whiskey or rum can be used in it’s place!
slice of nut cake with a bite taken out of it with cake behind, fairy lights, and a bowl of pecans

Expert Tips

  • Make sure you gather all your ingredients before you start mixing! Trust me, this will make things much easier.
  • Using a food processor to chop the pecans will be faster and easier than doing it by hand.
  • Once the molasses and baking soda are mixed, work quickly. It will continue to rise.
  • This cake will become more flavorful as it cools. It will also develop more flavor after a few days.
  • Adding 1 Tablespoon of bourbon every few days will keep this cake moist and delicious!

When you make this Southern Holiday Nut Cake, leave a comment down below! We love hearing from you and answering any questions you might have! Also, be sure to tag us on social media and hashtag it #BakersTable.

nut cake with a slice taken out of it on a white plate with fairy lights, greenery, and glasses
4.74 from 15 votes

Southern Holiday Nut Cake

Dense, rich, moist, and oh so delicious, this Southern Holiday Nut Cake is nutty, perfectly sweet, bourbon-y, and the perfect breakfast cake to serve all winter long! So. Good.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 16 slices

Ingredients
 

  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 cups pecans, chopped
  • cups raisins
  • cups all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • cups salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup bourbon

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 250℉.
  • Spray tube pan with cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix together molasses and baking soda. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine pecans, raisins, and 1/2 cup flour. Set aside.
  • Combine remaining 3 cups flour, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Mix in molasses and soda mixture.
  • Stir in flour mixture.
  • Add pecans and raisins.
  • Add bourbon last.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 2 hours, or until cake tests done.

Notes + Tips!

Substitutions:
  • You can use any kind of dried fruit you like!
  • Same with nuts. Not a fan of pecans? Feel free to use almonds or walnuts!
  • We use bourbon, but whiskey or rum can be used in it’s place!
Expert Tips:
  • Make sure you gather all your ingredients before you start mixing! Trust me, this will make things much easier.
  • Using a food processor to chop the pecans will be faster and easier than doing it by hand.
  • Once the molasses and baking powder are mixed, work quickly. It will continue to rise.
  • This cake will become more flavorful as it cools. It will also develop more flavor after a few days.
  • Adding 1 Tablespoon of bourbon every few days will keep this cake moist and delicious!

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 802kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 248mg | Potassium: 706mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 655IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

When you make this recipe, remember to tag @bakerstble or hashtag it #BakersTable!

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20 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My family loves this cake! Instead of all raisins I included dried cherries, golden raisins and dried cranberries.
    We also substitute either Crown Royal, or Ole Smokey Tennessee Salty Carmel Whisky.
    I’m wondering if anyone has tried making this with dried cherries, slivered almonds, and dark rum or brandy?

    1. Hi Vera! It’s baking soda, just like the recipe says. Baking powder won’t work in this recipe. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Happy holidays!

      1. Hi Traci in the tips section it says baking powder. Does the recipe call for that instead of baking soda?

        1. Hi McGee! It’s baking soda just like the recipe card says. The other was just a mis-type. It happens occasionally. Thanks for letting us know!

  2. My family has been making this cake for more than forty years. We never mixed the molasses and baking soda but I plan to try it. We have always believed it to be a secret family recipe that we have guarded religiously. So much for that.

    1. Hi Alma! This recipe has been in our family for generations as well. It’s something we’ve always held very near and dear to our hearts, which is why we shared it on the blog! I’m SO glad you found it and I hope this recipes brings back wonderful memories for you. Happy holiday’s! Xo, Caylie

  3. My mom used to make a nut bread in a cast iron pot and I’ve been looking for something similar. (The bread). I think she even wrapped it in some kind of cloth and doused it with bourbon/brandy. I don’t remember if she used molasses or ALAGA cane syrup. So, can I use a different syrup? Thank you.

    1. Hi May! Different syrups have different levels of sweetness and different flavors. If you substitute another syrup for the molasses, keep in mind you may need to adjust the amount of sugar. It will also change the flavor.

    1. Hi Debra! If you just don’t like the taste of bourbon, I would use brandy or dark rum. If you’re looking for an alcohol-free alternative, I would suggest vanilla extract. How much you use will depend on your vanilla. I would start with a tablespoon and adjust from there.

  4. I made this lovely cake with walnuts. Everyone loved it in clouding my daughter and her man. I am going to make it on March for my sister’s birthday and I used several baking dishes and all was great.

    1. Hi Joyce! I hope you do and that you enjoy this cake just as much as we do! It’s something we love and hold very near and dear to us. Please let us know if you have any questions! Xo, Caylie

  5. If I wanted to make this in loaf pans (for gifts — but normal sized loaf pans) how long should I cook them for?

    1. Hi Ellen! I have never baked them in loaves before, but I would test them at 1 hour. I suspect, depending on the size of your loaf pans, that it will probably take about 1 1/2 hours.

  6. Fabulous!!! This just made our annual holiday must have list. I did make a couple of changes. I changed the raisins to 1 1/2 cups each of dried cherries, golden raisins, and regular raisins. I changed the bourbon to Salty Carmel Whisky. Everyone who has tried has loved it.

    1. Hi! I’m so glad to hear you (and everyone!) has enjoyed this cake. It’s a must-have for our family, too! It’s my great grandmother’s recipe and make it every year to kick off the Christmas season. It’s one of my favorite things we’ve ever posted! Thank you so much for sharing and enjoying this cake! Xo, Caylie