Vanilla Bourbon Bundt Cake aka “Bundt Cake Gladys”

 Vanilla Bourbon Bundt

Perhaps you have heard the seasonal music playing in stores around town and wondered how this momentous day seems to arrive earlier and earlier each  year?  Familiar smells of the season catch your notice as they waft through neighborhood kitchens. You then begin to realize, yup, its that time.

Yes, its National Bundt Day today which means that once again my clearly demented blog friend Mary (aka The Food Librarian) is leading the annual charge to celebrate her favorite art form: The Bundt Cake.  Mary’s devotion to this iconic round cake is certainly unrivaled, even if it does leave me shaking my head in wonderment at her energy levels. Each bundt season she offers up her bundts, 30 days in a row, culminating in the final day (today) when all her friends offer up their own bundts. It’s a regular bundt orgy.

 Last year‘s National Bundt Day post contained only a short footnote about about my grandmother’s bundt pan (the oldest pan I own) and how, despite it being one of those cheap supermarket pans made of a lightweight aluminum and showing sufficient signs of wear and tear, I will never get rid of it.  Certainly she used a dozen or so during her lifetime. This one however, was the one she had at the end so, in my mind, she had it forever. I’m just too sentimental about it to get rid of it.

It only seems fitting this year to share with you the only cake she ever made in it: “Bundt Cake Gladys”. You can call it Vanilla Bourbon Bundt Cake but please know that I never will.
 Vanilla Bourbon Bundt

Grandmother’s handwritten recipe books were a tribute to the many friendships she forged throughout her lifetime. Just about all of her old lady friends I recall from my childhood are named throughout its food stained pages.  These were the days when the best (or only) way to get delicious recipes was to simply to swap them with your friends — and swap she did!  A lot. Each recipe is attributed to the friend who gave it to her by the renaming of the dish itself. A quick look through the book will net you such delights as “Persimmon Cookies Mary Alice”, “Lobster Bisque Babs”, and “Oysters Winifred”. Never included were any references to where Mary Alice, Babs, or Winifred’s recipe may have come from. Grandmother, I’m sure, didn’t care. (Bloggers take note.)

Not all recipes from her friends are even considered edible by today’s standards, or mine. “Meatloaf Billie” owed its secrets to a package of onion soup mix and a can of “Birdseye mixed vegetable medley”. “Beef Stroganoff Maudie” was just one of many delicacies featuring Cream of Mushroom soup. “Lobster Bisque Babs” combines three varieties of Campbell’s Soup before adding in some cooked lobster!  She insisted it was quite enjoyable and one her most requested recipes, but I never let her prove it to me. Not one of these ever made it  into my weekly rotation the way they did my grandmother’s.

“Bundt Cake Gladys”, however, well, this cake is another matter entirely.

As children we were hypnotized by its moist texture and sweet, pecan candy-like topping.  Sure it had some bourbon in it (or rum) but not so much that Child Protective Services would need to get involved.
Then, as adults we would be horrified and ashamed to learn our beloved Bundt Cake Gladys was nothing more than a doctored up yellow cake mix.

How horrible!   How tacky to use a mix!   How unhealthy!   How… um, can I have another piece?  

Yeah, we hated ourselves for loving it so much but our shame always took a backseat to a second piece. These days whenever I bring this to a family gathering we, with our discriminating tastes, will laugh and point to this odd throwback to another culinary time. And then devour it until it is gone.

One could easily take the time and calculate the recipe using scratch ingredients (it’s a basic chiffon cake), but why? If sentimentality counts for anything it extends to more than just the pan but also to the recipe itself and the hand scribbled note on it my grandmother left behind.  The evidence of her longtime friendship with a grand women named Gladys.

 Vanilla Bourbon Bundt Cake aka Bundt Cake Gladys

 Vanilla Bourbon Bundt

Be sure to mosey on to  Mary’s blog, The Food Librarian, and check out the celebration that is National Bundt Day.   (I’ll see you there ’cause I’m going to have to talk her out of that egg nog bundt cake recipe she featured yesterday. OMG!)

What are you doing to celebrate National Bundt Day?   Do you have any similar doctored up food recipes of yesteryear that you continue to enjoy today?


  Vanilla Bourbon Bundt

Vanilla Bourbon Bundt aka "Bundt Cake Gladys"

This is what you will need:

    For the cake:
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 package (18 1/2 oz.) yellow cake mix
  • 1 package (3/25 oz.) instant vanilla pudding and pie filling
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup light cooking oil.
  • 1/2 cup bourbon (or rum)
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 bourbon (or rum)

This is how you make it:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease the bundt pan and flour it.
  2. Sprinkle pecans evenly around the bottom of the pan.
  3. In a mixer with paddle attachment or with a hand mixer on low beat together the bake mix, pudding mix, water, oil, and bourbon until well mixed.
  4. Add eggs one at a time and mix well for 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Pour batter over the pecans and smooth with a rubber spatula.
  6. Bake for one hour or when a sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove to a rack and let cool for 20 minutes before inverting on a rack to cool to room temperature before pouring on and basting with the glaze.
  8. To make the glaze melt butter slowly and then stir in water and sugar.
  9. Bring mixture to a boil and stir constantly for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and pour in bourbon and continue to stir until mixture settles and gets smooth.
  11. Pour over cake and baste it.
  12. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Oh my! Look at you “mixing” it up. Well, we all have our delicious little secrets – I have been known to foster a filthy attraction to a big bundt in my day, you know. One of my favorite dishes of yesteryear, made with Bisquick, Chef Boy-r-Dee pizza mix, canned tomato soup, cream of celery and of course eggs is a little something called “Egg Bake Eunice,” so there you go. (All that aside I LOVE these photos, esp the one of the bundt on the cake stand!)

  2. Raises hand – guilty…
    Pssstttt – I used a boxed brownie mix for a dessert that I had to send to school with my daughter. She was indignant with me for 2 days (but I noticed none came home).

  3. “Lobster Bisque Babs” really does sound alarming. I’ve got a big soft spot for that type of recipe, though, because my Grandma is the same way. An extended-family favorite is “Tuna Slop.” Can’t help it; I love it.

    There’s no shame in using a cake mix now and then. This looks great!

  4. I have doctored up a few cake mixes in my time and have yet to regret it. My mother has some really crappy baking sheets from generations ago, but I get it is more sentimental value than anything. She does not use them but still keeps them.
    Anyhow the name of this cake has me hooked and the picture with all the nuts baked in-heaven. Great post.

  5. I gasped when I read the ingredients for “Lobster Bisque Babs”… it sounds remarkably similar to a soup my mother served one Christmas in the early 60s, called “Good Soup”, but I think it had crab in it? It was absolutely horrible, and she never served it again. But the cream of mushroom soup, instant pudding, and cake mixes? She used those in everything and we loved ’em all! Thanks for the walk down memory lane. (Oh, and this cake looks to die for! Thanks for sharing!)

  6. I’m loving the stories (admissions) of your own favorite creations. I wish I could remember which soups went into Lobster Bisque Babs. I’ll have to go digging into the books. I just remember being a big horrified when I saw it.

    Cher, I was given a brownie mix as part of a gift basket once and saved it forever. Finally I used it for a potluck when I thought nobody would see me with the actual plate and could identify me in a lineup. Turns out they did but they all LOVED the brownies, wanted the recipe, blah blah blah. How embarrassing.

  7. I think it sounds like a fantastic cake. You can’t go wrong with vanilla and bourbon!

  8. Great story, lovely photos. One of my most treasured cookbooks is my grandmother’s Joy of Cooking with handwritten notes penciled into the margins and recipe clippings tucked between the pages.

  9. What a GREAT post! I have to say, my favorite cake in my arsenal is a doctored box…they’re awesome! …..and the pan is truly a treasure.

    Awesome cake, too!

  10. This looks & sounds wonderful, Trevor! My husband will love it. In fact, I think I’ll make it for Thanksgiving since it looks like it can be transported easily.

    Thanks, once again, for the inspiration!

  11. I can just imagine you sqwirming at the thought of your grandmother’s admiration for Sandra Lee. LOL -Oh, and I just have to say, that second shot of the Budnt cake, gorgeous!

  12. I tried to comment on this in the am. i swear i was commentor #3 but it didnt go through. So funny about the quirky old named recipes. I love a boxed cake and I bet this is box cake to the tenth power good. Recipe noted! Happy bundt day!

  13. It’s stories like this all about Gladys and her big bundt that keep me coming back. But I did notice you had at least 6 slices laid out on the table. Was my invite lost in the mail or were you attempting a big bundt of your own? GREG

  14. Count me in as a member of the secret boxed mix appreciation club. Doctored cake mix or brownie mix gets the most raves for some reason – I think it’s that incomparable texture. I’m bookmarking this one – it looks amazing!

    I also inherited some dinged up cake pans from my grandmother and wouldn’t trade them for the world. Great post!

  15. Great post. Cake looks good.

  16. This cake looks gorgeous! I am loving the recipe. Yum1

  17. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We have all used cake mixes in our tawdry pasts – and some of us have enjoyed it (too much). My mom’s is a drunken sherry version that is (according to the recipe) “good to take to funeral receptions”. Nice. I want the soup recipe too, Babs. Love the candlelight bundt party (to which I wasn’t invited). Happy B Day!

  18. I nearly spit out my tea when Meatloaf Billy came up…ewwww. But I’ve made a few doctored up cake mixes in my day…and yours looks like a winner~

  19. I inherited my grandmother’s recipe box and I think 9 recipes out of 10 called for dates- almost inspired me to write a date cookbook. We had a family cake that was delicious(so moist!) made with a yellow cake mix and instant vanilla pudding but I think it had cream sherry or something like that. I think it was called a ‘California Wine Cake’ very fancy name but a good cake all the same. I checked out the parade of bundt cakes at your friend’s site and the one with egg nog did knock my socks off! I can see why you were so inspired;-)

  20. Trevor, I made this for a Thanksgiving/Birthday cake for my brother-in-law. My whole family loved it & I sent the link to your post to my niece.

    I had extra Bourbon Glaze, so have to figure out how to use it up!

    I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  21. This looks like a great bundt! Love the pecans on top and all that bourbon…yum! 🙂