Derby Day Mint Julep Cake

Derby Day Mint Julep Cake
Derby Day is always held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Besides the horse race, Louisville residents hold lavish parties and serve traditional Kentucky foods such as the Hot Brown or Kentucky Burgoo. The official Derby Pie®is often one of the desserts of choice, although the store-bought pie which is found in the freezer section of most Kentucky grocery stores seems to have been changed over the years and no longer contains the high quality ingredients that originally made the pie famous. You may choose to serve a decadent homemade version of the official pie, Better than the Original Derby Pie, or, since the official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep, made with fresh mint and Kentucky whiskey, you may choose to serve the following Mint Julep Cake, which combines the same flavors as the official drink in a delicious cake. Of course if you’re entertaining a larger group at your Derby Day party, you may want to serve several desserts, including both the pie and this delicious cake. Remember, there’s no such thing as too many desserts!


For convenience, Mint Julep Cake can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator. If you’re in a big hurry, it’s also okay to make a white cake from a mix; with the syrup and other additions, the cake will still be decadent and no one will be the wiser. With a piece of this fabulous cake in front of you, it won’t really matter which horse wins the race; you’ll be a winner no matter what.

20 Servings

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar, divided
3 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 egg whites, at room temperature

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup Kentucky Bourbon

1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar

4 egg yolks
1 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon

1/2 cup mint jelly

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Spray 3 9" cake pans with Baker's Joy or non-stick spray; place a piece of parchment in each of the pans, then spray again; set aside.
  3. Cake: Cream butter gradually with 1 3/4 cups of the sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Combine flour baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk--beginning and ending with flour mixture--mixing well after each addition; add vanilla.
  5. In a separate very clean (absolutely no grease) bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form; add remaining sugar gradually, beating until stiff peaks form.
  6. Fold into cake batter and pour into the prepared pans
  7. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to racks to cool completely. You will need two of the layers for this cake; use the remaining layer for another recipe.
  9. With a fork, poke holes over the surface of each of the two layers.
  10. Syrup: Combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan.
  11. Cover, turn to medium heat, and let come to a boil; remove the lid and stir, washing down the sides once with a pastry brush and water, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture starts to thicken slightly, about 3 minutes.
  12. Remove from the heat and stir in the whiskey.
  13. Frosting: Place the sugar and water in a saucepan; cover and bring to a boil.
  14. Boil, washing down the sides occasionally, until the mixture starts to thicken.
  15. Meanwhile, while the syrup is boiling, place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and beat until thick and lemon-colored.
  16. With the mixer on high, slowly pour the syrup into the egg yolks.
  17. Continue beating at high speed until the mixture has cooled, scraping the sides occasionally.
  18. Beat in the butter, one piece at a time, until the mixture is thick and smooth; stir in the 2 tablespoons bourbon.
  19. Assembly: Place a cake layer on a serving platter; pour half of the syrup over slowly, giving it time to absorb it rather than run all over the plate.
  20. Spread with the mint jelly and cover with a thin layer of the buttercream frosting.
  21. Top with the second cake layer and pour the remaining syrup over.
  22. Frost with the remaining buttercream.
  23. Garnish with mint leaves, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate several hours to allow flavors to blend.

Amount Per Serving
Calories 441 Calories from Fat 180
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 41% Protein 4% Carb. 53%

Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 20 g
Saturated Fat 12 g
Cholesterol 92 mg
Sodium 327 mg
Total Carbohydrate 58 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 37 g
Protein 4 g

Vitamin A 15% Vitamin C 0% Calcium 0% Iron 9%

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