Thursday, March 14, 2013

How to make a Baileys Irish Cream and Coffee Poke Cake for St. Patrick’s Day by Cleo Coyle

Baileys Irish Cream and coffee are a natural together. Who wouldn't enjoy a wee spot of Irish whiskey in their coffee, blended with real Irish cream from real Irish cows? With St. Patrick’s Day coming up this weekend, it’s no wonder I’m featuring both flavors (coffee and Irish cream) in a delicious cake recipe. My only regret is that it’s not green! 

Yes, I’m one of those classy people who enjoy making green food for St. Patrick’s Day. (If you'd like my recipe for Shamrock Green Pistachio Muffins (with ricotta)- click here for the recipe and/or you can also watch my little video from a recent St. Patrick's Day parade here in New York City).

Unfortunately, my original plans for today’s recipe (a green avocado cake) went south (literally!), which is why I’d like to give a shout-out of thanks to Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) for stepping in on my regular post day Tuesday, thus giving me a chance to recover. Thanks again, Lucy! 

Behold: My avocado cupcake fail.
I’ll write more about my altercation with an avocado cake in a future post. Let’s just say it not only fell flat but baked up weirdly doughy. My second attempt at avocado cupcakes didn't fare much better (again, weirdly flat and doughy). So I abandoned "baking with avocado" idea (for now, anyway) in favor of a much better one! I hope you enjoy it!

~ Cleo

FYI - Last night on facebook, some readers asked about
the cup in my teaser photo. I call it my "Downton Abbey" cup.
It's not an antique. It's (happily) affordable bone china made by
The Johnson Brothers (click here for more info).

Some Fun Facts About Irish Cream

* Irish cream is made with Irish whiskey and real dairy cream. Baileys uses cream from a dairy in County Cavan.

* Irish Creams have an alcohol content between 17% and 20% by volume (Baileys is 17%)

* There are no preservatives in Baileys yet the cream doesn’t spoil because the alcohol content is enough to preserve it. Baileys has a shelf life of 30 months, and the manufacturer guarantees its taste for two years from the day it was made.

* Baileys is available in several flavors, including hazelnut (the newest), chocolate mint, crème caramel, and (of course) coffee!

Cleo Coyle's
Baileys Irish Cream
and Coffee Poke Cake

Cleo Coyle, addicted to coffee
and green food (especially
on March 17), is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries.
If you enjoy the flavors of Irish Cream and coffee, then I think you'll find this cake absolutely delicious. It's an impressive cake to serve, and my readers might be curious to know that I'm planning to include a version of this recipe in my upcoming Coffeehouse Mystery Billionaire Blend, in which my amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi, is not only tasked with preventing the bump-off of a billionaire, she's also hired to create the rarest and most expensive coffee blend on the planet. 

My challenge is a little different from Clare's (other than co-writing her tale with my partner in crime writing, my husband). I have to think about what cake one might eat with such a heady blend. Honestly, this one comes close...

To download a copy of this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.


For the easy sheet cake

1 package white cake mix (with or without pudding in the mix)  

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter (softened) 
½ cup vegetable or canola oil 
1 package vanilla instant pudding 
½ cup Baileys Irish Cream 
¾ cups milk (whole or skim) 
4 egg whites 
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

Step 1 - Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Do not follow cake mix box directions. Using an electric mixer cream the 4 tablespoons of softened butter into the package of white cake mix. Stop the mixer. Add the ½ cup of oil and continue creaming. Now add the rest of the ingredients (instant pudding, Baileys Irish Cream, milk, egg whites, and vanilla). Beat this mixture for at least 90 seconds, scraping down the bowl to create a smooth batter. Pour into a well-buttered and floured 13 x 9-inch pan. Batter will be thick. Use a spatula or back of a spoon to even out the batter and level off the top. Bake in a well-preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out free of wet batter and the top springs back after a light touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature (about 20 minutes). 

Step 2 - Poke, Glaze and Frost the Cake: After the cake has cooled, poke it using a chopstick, wooden skewer, or similar tool. Slowly pour my warm Baileys Irish Cream and Coffee Glaze evenly over the cake (recipe below). This glaze will harden as it cools, and you don't want that, so gently rewarm it if necessary. As you pour, let the liquid seep into the holes then tilt the pan one way and the other until the cake top is evenly covered with glaze (see my photos below). Let the glaze cool and set, then finish the cake with simple whipped cream or frost it with my Baileys Irish Buttercream Icing (recipe below)

Cleo's Baileys
Irish Cream & Coffee Glaze

1 teaspoon espresso powder 
2 Tablespoons water
4 Tablespoons (½ stick) butter
½ cup white, granulated sugar
¼ cup Baileys Irish Cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions - First a warning: Do not dump all of the ingredients into the saucepan. The flavor of the Irish cream and vanilla will be ruined if boiled. Instead, do the following: Put a saucepan over medium heat, add the water, espresso powder (or instant coffee granules), butter, and sugar and stir until the butter melts. Increase the heat a bit and bring the mixture to a boil, turn down to a simmer and continue cooking stirring for four or five minutes, watching for the mixture to thicken. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the Irish cream and vanilla extract. Blend well and transfer to a measuring cup with a spout to give you better control as you pour it over the cake. Follow remaining directions in my cake recipe (above).

Baileys Irish Buttercream

(Cleo's version)

Makes about
2 cups of (amazing!) Icing

2 Tablespoons Baileys Irish
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
   to room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar

Directions: Using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter. Stop the mixer and add the Baileys Irish cream, vanilla extract, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Beat the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Scrape down the bowl, add a 2nd cup of powdered sugar, beat until dissolved. Finally add the 3rd cup of sugar and beat until smooth. If frosting is dry, add a bit more Irish Cream until you get the consistency you like. Frost the cake with joy!

St. Patrick's Day!

~ Cleo Coyle 

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here
Follow me on twitter here.
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.


  1. This cake sounds heavenly. I'd love to share it with my co-workers, but I think the principal at my school would frown on the glaze. (I've had some success with other Bailey's cakes by just using the Baileys in the batter and then when making the frosting using Baileys Coffee Creamer. Maybe I'll just make your wonderful cake for Book Club instead.


    1. Beverly (Booklady) - I promise you this cake *is* heavenly. I just inhaled a piece with a cup of coffee and went to a place called Bliss. Even better, this piece was a day old. The cake's flavor continues to develop as it ages, which means it's just as good (if not better) the second day. (Just be sure to wrap the pan in plastic to keep it moist. The 9x13 cake pan I use has its own plastic cover and that was all it needed to stay fresh and moist overnight. I simply stored it in my cold oven.)

      Thanks for dropping by today, Beverly, and I sincerely hope you, your principal, all the kids at your school, and your Book Club have a very happy St. Patrick's Day weekend. Cheers! (An appropriate valediction, I think, given the Baileys in the cake. :))

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. Replies
    1. I have to tell you that I burst out laughing when I saw your comment. Brevity is indeed the soul of wit; I can't argue with good Will Shakespeare on that one. Needless to say, thank you for the kind comment. :)

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. Yes it's beautiful Cleo, but I love the pistachio muffins even more. Going off to make them asap!

    1. You've got me there, after all, they are green!

      ~ Cleo

    2. Just want to say thanks again for helping me out this past Tuesday. As I told Libby (below), I plan to take on the dreaded avocado cake again. I just couldn't make it work in time for Emerald Isle week. Thanks again...

      ~ Cleo

  4. Yum indeed. But I'd have to find some Bailey's.

    I may content myself with making green shamrock cookies with the green cookie cutter I bought in Dublin last fall (how could I not?).

    And I think that line of Johnson china includes a plate with Blarney Castle on it, which I am coveting.

    1. Sheila if anyone should do a St. Patrick's Day post, it's you. I think you *must* make the green shamrock cookies. I remember the cookie cutters from Dublin--they were great fun. Do you think there's such a thing as a Blarney Castle cookie cutter?

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. This sounds totally delish!

    How do you manage to get properly ripe avocados? Mine go from rock to rot and skip the yummy stage.
    I have had avocado ice cream but not cake. How does it taste?

    1. The avocado will not vanquish me, Libby, I promise. Score so far:

      - Round One to me with the Chocolate Avocado Frosting! (V)
      - Round Two to the avocado with a cupcake fail (L)
      - Round Three to come!

      How it tastes is very good, that's why I want to continue the "avocado experiments" and come up with a recipe that doesn't sink the structure. No worries, "back to the drawing board" is something professional writers learn how to do (or they don't stay that way for long :)). Thanks for dropping by today and I hope you have a great St. Patrick's Day weekend.

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

    2. I plan to make this at the end of the week for my "daughter-in-law's" birthday celebration. She's Irish and i think will enjoy it. I know I will.

      But really, how do you get useable avocados? I have no luck except when our tree produces once a year.

  6. Yummy! My husband is going to love this one. He's a Bailey's guy when he wants an after-dinner drink (usually only on vacation) but who knows...vacation midweek?

    Love the Downton Abbey cup. Sweet.

    Daryl aka Avery

    1. Midweek micro-vacations are good for the soul. A shot of Baileys in a cuppa joe and a great music CD definitely qualify.

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. Some serious drooling going on here. Yum, yum, yum! I'm so sorry about the avocado cake. Heaven knows I have plenty of my own disasters, so I'm all too familiar with them. But this -- oh my! Sugar heaven!


    1. Aw, thx, Krista - I guarantee a piece of this cake will put most adults into a foodie trance!

      Seriously, it's really good, and it holds up very well, which is a nice bonus. I just inhaled a piece with a cup of coffee and it's amazingly moist on the second day. The flavor just gets better as it ages. At my age, I gotta love things that do that!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  8. You've done yourself proud once again, Cleo! All the O'Ffinis are going to enjoy this on St. Paddy's day.

    MJ (never without a bottle of Bailey's in the essentials cupboard)

  9. Coffee. Irish Cream. Happy place. re-posted and shared. thanks!

  10. Oh, that looks GOOOOD. Trust you to come up with the perfect St. Paddy's Day dessert! I still have some Bailey's, too.

    And you're going to laugh...I just bought one of those Castles teacups yesterday, just like that one, on EBay.

  11. Your cake sounds so good! =)
    Sounds like a wonderful St. Patricks Day dessert!!