I couldn’t help but be intrigued and entertained when I came across a cake recipe with an unusual ingredient: cinnamon-flavored Fireball Whisky. It uses instant vanilla pudding mix, too — so retro, but that’s the point. Cookbook author Addie Gundry says that baking with alcohol was also en vogue in the 1950s and ’60s. She tweaked the idea of a rum cake by adding whiskey instead, and cinnamon-flavored for an additional twist. I got a strong whiff of booze from the finished cake in my early tests but thought the cinnamon flavor could use more oomph, so I added ground cinnamon.

When I baked it in a glass Pyrex loaf pan, it domed beautifully. When I baked it in a metal pan, the center sunk a little — but it tasted just as good.

This cake comes together in one bowl, meaning the time you’d burn cleaning up can be spent leisurely enjoying a slice with a nice cup of coffee. Or a shot of Fireball.

No judging here.

Fireball Whisky Cake

Make ahead: The cake will keep for a few days at room temperature, in a tightly closed container or wrapped well in plastic.


Adapted from “Retro Recipes From the ’50s and ’60s: 103 Vintage Appetizers, Dinners, and Drinks Everyone Will Love,” by Addie Gundry (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2018).


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs


1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup cinnamon-flavored whiskey, such as Fireball

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup (from half of a 3.4-ounce package) instant vanilla pudding mix, such as Jell-O brand

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda


1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1?4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously grease an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with cooking oil spray.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on low speed for a minute or two, then increase the speed to medium; beat for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.


Add the oil, eggs, vanilla extract and whiskey; beat on low speed. The mixture may look curdled, but that’s okay. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Add the flour, pudding mix, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; beat on low speed to form a smooth batter. Transfer to the pan, spreading the batter evenly. Scatter the walnuts on top, if using.

Bake (middle rack) for 65 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. (You can loosely tent the top with aluminum foil if it begins to look too dark.) Transfer the pan to a wire rack; cool completely.

Run a round-edged knife around the cake, before tipping it out of the pan. Cut into slices and serve.

Nutrition | Calories: 300; Total Fat: 16 g; Saturated Fat: 7 g; Cholesterol: 60 mg; Sodium: 100 mg; Total Carbohydrates: 34 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 15 g; Protein: 3 g.

Fireball Whisky Cake. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post)

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