Maria’s Pisco Cake is a dense, moist, delicious cake with the addition of Peruvian Pisco which delivers a wonderful fragrance as well as flavor. ¡Al ataque!
My grandmother, Mama Maria, was a fabulous baker. I have memories of her making these delicious cakes and cookies that would be gobbled up by the family. I was just a little girl when she came to visit from Peru and spoiled us with her cooking and baking. She always took the opportunity to educate us with some form of history or how proper pronunciation is key to being respected.
One day my Grandmother was in the kitchen making this cake. It came out of the oven and my brother and I begged for a piece.
“No. This is for later. Don’t touch.” In Spanish, of course. She left the kitchen.
My brother and I really wanted a piece of that cake. I looked at him and told him to be the lookout. I lifted the cake from the plate and sliced off the entire bottom which is the best part because it is so moist and sticky. You know, the part that sticks when you lift a piece off the plate?
I took the bottom of the cake, which was only about a 1/2 inch thick, and split it with my brother. I replaced the remainder of the cake back onto the plate. We giggled and stuffed our faces. When my Grandmother served the cake after supper I tried not to giggle because when she lifted up a piece, you could see the crust was gone. I don’t know if she knew or not, but if she did, she didn’t give us up. I would have just blamed my brother who was older than me therefore, wiser than me. I was just 7 or 8 years old! I know…I was headed down a bad path at an early age!
My Grandmother was a proud woman. A strong woman who survived a life that most could not endure. I miss her and think of her every time I bake. Her recipe for this cake was lost and I have tried numerous times to replicate the perfection she had created. This is why I write this blog. I want to make sure these recipes can be passed down to my family and available to all.
A cousin from Peru sent over a recipe, but it wasn’t the cake I remembered. When I baked the cake, it was dense and had not risen because it didn’t have any leavening. The kids ate it because the flavor was delicious due to the special ingredient – Pisco – Peruvian, of course.
I have made this cake a number of times trying to get my Mama Maria’s cake. Each time I was not satisfied with the result. Until now.
For Mother’s Day, I wanted to bake this cake to offer my Mom in memory of her Mom. I baked it the day before. I sliced a small piece just to see if this was the one. It was delicious. So delicious that the entire cake was eaten that day by my husband – who had 6 pieces – and the kids who ate the rest!
I made it again the next day and again it was gone that day. The whole family ate it.
There are some important steps to take when making this cake. First, make sure your butter, eggs, and milk are room temperature. Second, beat the butter a bit to get it going. Then, stream in the sugar and beat on medium high speed for 5 minutes.
While that is beating, butter and flour your pan. I use the wrappers from the butter to grease the pan then add a little more if needed to fully coat pan. Then add a little flour and tap to coat entire inside of pan. Discard any loose flour. Alternatively, you can use a baking spray.
Measure out your milk – please use whole or 2% – and add in the Pisco and vanilla.
You should still have time to measure out or weigh your flour – 3 cups or 14.6 ounces. Whisk in the baking powder and salt.
Now add in the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture. Fully incorporate each egg before adding the next. Scrape down bowl.
Then, I add about 3/4 or more than half of the flour and beat just until incorporated.
Stream in all of the milk and beat just until incorporated.
Then add in remaining flour and beat just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the pan and even out.
Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes but check after 1 hour to consider size of pan and oven temperature. The edges should spring back when touched and/or inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
Remove from pan onto rack and let cool completely.
This cake requires no frosting or sugar topping as it is sweet enough. I would not consider it a pound cake because I have always considered a pound cake to only have butter, sugar, flour, eggs, flavoring and not include milk. It’s a perfect cake to enjoy with a cup of coffee, café con leche, tea, or latte.
Make this cake and remember your grandmother and smile. I miss you and will always love you, Mama Maria.
- 3 cups flour (14.6 ounces) plus a little extra for coating pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk (2% or whole), room temperature
- 1 shot Pisco - (2 tablespoons) - my preference, Peruvian
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2¾ cups sugar
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- Preheat oven 325 degrees.
- Butter and flour a Bundt or tube pan. I use the wrappers from the butter to grease the pan then add a little more if needed to fully coat pan. Then add a little flour and tap to coat entire inside of pan. Discard any loose flour. Alternatively, you can use a baking spray.
- Beat butter for 1 minute and gradually add sugar. Beat 5 minutes on medium high speed until pale and creamy.
- Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in separate bowl and set aside.
- Combine the milk, pisco, and vanilla in a measuring cup and set aside.
- After 5 minutes of beating the butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time incorporating fully after each one.
- Scrape down bowl.
- Add in half of flour and beat until just combined.
- Stream in all the milk and beat to incorporate.
- Add remaining flour and mix just until combined.
- Scrape down bowl and beat another 20 seconds.
- Pour into prepared pan and even out.
- Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes but check after 1 hour to consider size of pan and oven temperature.
- Let cool in pan 15 minutes.
- Turn out onto cooling rack and let cool completely.
- Enjoy with a cup of coffee, café con leche, tea, or glass of milk.
- ¡Al ataque!