Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Irish Whiskey Cake for Sheila Connolly's THE SECRET STAIRCASE Book Birthday!

From Cleo Coyle: We all dearly miss Sheila Connolly. Gone far too soon, she was a brilliant and unique spirit and an inspiration to us all. Today happens to be the publication day of Sheila's third Victorian Village Mystery. Unfinished at her passing, her daughter, Julie Williams, took up the pen and finished the work for her mother. If you missed Julie's special guest post this past Sunday, click here now to see it. And...

To learn more or buy 
The Secret Staircase 
click here 

In the meantime, given that today is such a poignant book birthday, Marc and I thought it would be fitting to share a cake recipe. And what better cake to honor Sheila than an Irish Whiskey Cake. This is a fantastic recipe. Keep it on hand for the coming holiday season. In sharing it, we thought it best to let Sheila's own words celebrate the day. In memoriam, with the greatest respect and affection...

The following is author
Sheila Connolly's original post
from December 7, 2018

Irish Whiskey Cake

From Sheila Connolly: The Irish love sweets, which explains why the supermarket’s bakery department is near the front of the store and loaded with yummy cakes and tarts and breads.

So once again I went hunting for a holiday recipe, and discovered Whiskey Cake. This one comes from an Irish cookbook that I’ve had for years (and quite a few of the recipes include whiskey!).

I’ve been collecting bakeware for a long time—it gives me a reason to prowl antiques fairs and auctions, and the vintage or even antique items are usually very affordable. Baking this new cake gives me an excuse to try out yet another baking tin, which turned out to be a perfect size.

Irish Whiskey Cake

Ingredients (for one 8” cake):

1-1/2 cup raisins
Grated rind and juice of one lemon (grated rind will be for the cake, reserve the lemon juice for the icing below)
2/3 cup Irish whiskey
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
(make sure it’s soft)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt
3 eggs, separated

For icing:

1-1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
the lemon juice from above
a bit of warm water 


Soak the raisins and grated lemon rind in the whiskey for several hours, or overnight.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix together the flour, baking powder, cloves and salt.

Gradually beat the egg yolks (one at a time) into the butter and sugar mixture, alternating with the dry ingredients. Stir in the raisins and *whiskey.

*Note that the whiskey will include the grated lemon rind from the soaking in the first step.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
Grease an 8” cake tin. Spoon the batter into it.

Bake for about 1-1/2 hours until the cake is well risen and springy to the touch (don't overbake or the cake will dry out). Place the tin on a wire rack and let cool. (If you’ve greased the pan well, the cake will come out easily when cool.) 

Icing: Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a bowl. Make a well in the middle. Add half the lemon juice and combine. Add more lemon juice and a bit of water (if needed) until the mixture is thick and smooth. 

Place the cake on a plate, then spoon the icing over it,
letting it dribble down the sides.

I have to say the cake smells wonderful! The sweet/tart glaze makes a nice contrast to the cake itself, or you could skip that step if you want.

🍀  🍀  🍀

Thank you, Sheila, for your many years of happy fellowship and
especially for sharing your wonderful talents with all of us!

To learn more about Sheila and her books
visit her website SheilaConnolly.com

To learn more about Sheila's
Victorian Village Mysteries and
purchase the books, click here
or on the image above.



  1. Thank you for sharing this, Cleo! The Secret Staircase is a great read, and I hope all the MLK readers run right out and get their own copy.

  2. Cleo, what a great idea--thanks for sharing a cake for Sheila's book birthday!

    1. We all miss her so much. It's nice to have a chance to toast her again. xoxo

  3. That cake sounds amazing. I have to make it this week.

    1. I'm sure Sheila would be pleased to know that her shared recipes (and her many years of storytelling!) will continue to bring joy to the world.

  4. Oh thank you for sharing the recipe. Happy Book Birthday.

    1. Lori - Thanks for stopping by to help us celebrate Sheila today! xoxo

  5. Well done, Cleo. You are such a class act.
    Sheila may be gone, but she is not forgotten.

    Can you clarify something from the recipe?
    "Grated rind and juice of one lemon" and then "the lemon juice from above" The first juice of one lemon is added to the batter. What is left to add to the glaze then?

    1. I just searched for other similar recipes. I wonder if the rind goes in the batter and the juice goes in the glaze?

    2. Libby - Agreed, Sheila will never be forgotten. What a great spirit! As for your recipe question. That's easy. Look at the third step, where she says: "Gradually beat the egg yolks (one at a time) into the butter and sugar mixture, alternating with the dry ingredients. Stir in the raisins and whiskey." << In the first step, she asks us to soak the raisins and grated lemon rind in the whiskey. She never says to "strain out" the rind, LOL! In other words, the whiskey will already have the lemon rind in it. Hope that helps. And since you pointed it out, I'll go in there and add a small note that the grated lemon rind will already be in the whiskey. I know from experience that whiskey and lemon make a wonderful flavor combination in recipes.

      Thanks for stopping by, Libby, to help us celebrate Sheila today! xoxo

    3. Nicely edited.

  6. This brought tears to my eyes, Cleo. I loved Sheila, her books, her unusual recipes and her great sense of humor. Thank you so much for sharing this. Hugs. MJ

    1. Returning hugs to you, MJ. Cheers for stopping by to help us lift our glasses of good memories to Sheila. ~ Cleo

  7. I copied and pasted the recipe and added it to my recipe book of cakes. I'll be making it using my bottle of Writer's Tears Irish Whiskey. In fact since I went to look for it I tosses a couple of ice cubes in a glass and poured a dram or two into the glass..

    To the memory of Sheila Connolly a great lady and friend to many!

    1. Nora - Your comment (and beautiful toast) brings tears to my own eyes. I remember when Sheila told me about the Writer's Tears whiskey. Perfectly poignant for this memorable recipe. ~ Cleo

  8. Thanks for remembering Shelia Connolly with grace. I was a fan of both the Orchard and Museum series mysteries. I am sorry there won't be more tales of these characters, but now I will try her other series. Actually, my plan is to move around the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen table, sampling a book from each. What a treat.
    Recipe question. If you don't have a pan as shown in the photos what size pan should I use? LRJ

    1. LRJ -- Cheers for stopping by to help us celebrate Sheila this week. As for your recipe question, Sheila says this is a recipe for an 8-inch cake. Judging from the volume of measurements she's using, I would give your 8-inch round layer cake pan a go for this recipe. If you have an 8-inch spring form pan with higher sides, that's an option too. I hope that helps and thanks again for stopping by the Kitchen. ~ Cleo