Do you ever daydream about competing on the Great British Baking Show? Just imagining what it might be like to bake in giant tent in a sprawling meadow, complete with a babbling brook and lambs roaming about? Have you ever wondered what it might be like to listen to Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood judge your show-stopping dessert in front of an entire country, and later, the entire world on Netflix?
No? Well, I have. Often.
While watching the GBB Holiday special on Netflix recently, I couldn’t help but think of what I’d make for Paul and Prue if I were challenged to make a holiday sponge cake. My answer: Eggnog Poke Cake.
A poke cake is a dessert made with light, springy sponge drowned in a sweet custard. There are plenty of varieties out there, but the one you're probably most familiar with is the tres leches cake, which is typically soaked in three milks: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. It's a cake I love it for entertaining because it's great made ahead and serves a crowd. But for this show-stopping dessert, I’ve replaced the creamy mixture with a festive holiday spirit, eggnog.
I prefer using a store-bought eggnog to soak my cake. There are plenty of high-quality brands in the supermarket, like Horizon Organic, Ronnybrook Farms, or Trader Joe’s. Plus, whenever I find an opportunity to save time during the busy holiday season, I take it. If you do plan on making your own eggnog, just make a little extra and set aside for this cake.
I always add a little bourbon to make my eggnog merry and bright. I like the way bourbon's smokiness highlights the warming cinnamon and nutmeg. If you’re not a fan of bourbon, whiskey, rum, or brandy would all work nicely, too.
Right before serving, I top the cake with a fluffy layer of sweet whipped cream and a flurry of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. And, of course, serve the creamy, custardy cake with a little nip of bourbon.
What’s the verdict from Paul and Prue? Prue loves the booze...she always does. It was a surefire hit to begin with. Paul, a renowned stickler for sponge, praises it. (Whew!) So much so, that I receive highly coveted “Hollywood handshake.” I mean...it is a daydream after all. And a very sweet one at that.
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, NYT Cooking and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.