• Sarah Cohan

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Layer Cake (with a little Bourbon)

February 27th is my favorite day of the year, because it’s my boyfriend’s birthday and I get to celebrate him! Cheesy, I know, but he’s my favorite person in all the land and I love nothing more than spoiling him silly once a year (at least). He’ll profess that he doesn’t like sweets, but really he does - just in small doses. His absolute favorite sweets, though, are oatmeal raisin cookies. Since we first began our relationship almost two years ago I’ve been working on perfecting my recipe, and while I can’t say that I’m done, I’m happy enough with it to share it with you.

I didn’t get the opportunity to make him a cake last year, so this year this idea was a shoe-in. I did some searching for already-existing recipes, and found that there were very few, and none from bakers of whom I’d heard before. Time to make my own! I adapted the oatmeal raisin chocolate chip snacking cake recipe from Baked Explorations with a few tweaks to make it my own and sturdy enough to be layered, and threw in my cookies and cream cheese frosting (which he also loves). And - bourbon. He loves bourbon. So, that too.

Happy Baking!

adapted from Baked Explorations & Cook’s Illustrated

MAKES one 8” 2-layer cake



  • 1.5c raisins

  • 1/4 cup and a splash of bourbon for now, 2-4 tablespoons more bourbon for later as you’re compiling the cake

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

  • 1 stick cubed room temperature butter

  • 190g AP Flour (1.5c + 1.5TB), 2 tablespoons additional flour

  • 2 eggs

  • 150g sugar (3/4 cups)

  • 260g dark brown sugar (1.25 cups)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda

  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 2 8” cake pans

  • CAKE GOOP! and a silicone brush

  • Small saucepan

  • Mixing bowls

  • Whisks & spatulas

  • Cooling racks


  1. Cake goop-up your pans. If you don’t have cake goop (you should! go make some!), you should cut out parchment circles that will fit inside the bottoms of your pans, then grease the pan with butter or shortening, line the bottoms with parchment, grease the parchment & pan sides, and cover all the surfaces with flour, tapping out the excess into the sink or trash. Now, see? Wouldn’t cake goop be SO MUCH EASIER? Also, it works better. Okay I’ll step off my soapbox now...

  2. Heat 1.5c raisins in a saucepan with enough water to just cover them, and a splash of bourbon. Heat until steaming, then turn off the heat and let sit as you continue the recipe.

  3. Place 1c rolled oats + 1 stick room temp butter (cubed) in large mixing bowl.

  4. Boil 1c water + 1/4c bourbon, then pour over the oats and butter. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to moisten the oats and melt the butter.

  5. Let it cool 25 minutes (during this waiting time you could make your cookie dough or your frosting, and you can preheat your oven to 375).

  6. Strain your raisins well, then toss them with 2TB of AP flour.

  7. Whisk 2 eggs, 150g sugar (3/4c), 260g dark brown sugar (1.25c), 1/2tsp salt, 1tsp BS, 1tsp BP, and 1.5tsp cinnamon.

  8. Whisk that egg mix into the oatmeal mixture, then add 190g AP (1.5c + 1.5TB), whisking or folding in until no traces of flour remain.

  9. Fold your raisins into the batter

  10. Evenly divide your batter between your cake pans, either using a digital scale (which you should have!), a large cookie scoop (which you should also have!), or by eyeballing it (not the best method, but you gotta do what you gotta do).

  11. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few crumbs, and the sides of the cake are pulling away from the pan. Depending on your oven, it really could take as little as 30 minutes, or as many as 40, so make sure to start checking the layers every two minutes as of about 28 minutes. Read here for more info on how to tell when your cake layers are done.

  12. Let your cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling racks and let them cool completely to room temperature. Don’t try to frost warm cake layers! If you need to speed things up, once they’ve cooled to warm (but not hot), throw them in the fridge or freezer for a bit, but don’t forget about them - you don’t want them to dry out. Chilled layers are easier to work with anyways - I often make my cake layers days to weeks in advance, and then once they’re completely cool and chilled in the fridge for about 30 minutes (so that they don’t break when being handled), I wrap them in two layers of plastic wrap and then tin foil, and freeze them until the day I’m going to decorate.


Makes approximately 18 cookies


  • 5oz AP flour (1 cup + 2 tablespoons)

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • pinch nutmeg

  • 5.25oz dark brown sugar (1 & 1/3 cups)

  • 3.5oz granulated sugar (1/2 cup)

  • 1/2 cup vegetale oil

  • 1 egg

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2.5 cups old fashioned rolled oats

  • 1 cup raisins

  • Optional: raw sugar & cinnamon for rolling, bourbon cause it’s delicious

  • Mixing bowls

  • Strainer

  • Whisk

  • Stand mixer w. whisk attachment

  • Spatula

  • Cookie sheets

  • Parchment

  • Cookie scoop


  1. Are you only making these cookies for use in the cake, and aren’t picky about the perfection of the leftover cookies? If so, heat your oven to 375 now. If you’d like the leftover cookies to be super duper amazing, hold off on that.

  2. Boil 1 cup water and pour over 1 cup raisins in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

  3. Whisk 5oz AP flour, 3/4tsp salt, and 1/2tsp baking soda. Set aside.

  4. Brown 4TB of butter (see here - recipe step 2 - for more info on how to brown butter), then add 1/4tsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.

  5. Pour the browned butter into your stand mixer, and with a whisk attachment mix in 5.25oz dark brown sugar, 3.5oz sugar, and 1/2c vegetable oil.

  6. Add 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, and 1tsp vanilla and mix on medium for 30 seconds, then let it rest for 3 minutes. Repeat that mix and rest process two more times.

  7. Add in the flour mixture, mixing until no traces of flour remain, then add and mix in 2.5c old fashioned oats.

  8. Strain the raisins, then add them and mix until they are evenly distributed.

  9. In order to make the cookies look uniform, you need to scoop the batter either with a cookie scoop or by weight. I use a 2” cookie scoop to make 18 cookie dough balls. If you are really only making the cookies for use in the cake, you can skip to step 12.

  10. Scoop the dough balls onto a wax paper or parchment lined cookie sheet - it’s okay if they’re close together; you’re not going to bake them yet. Mix up a bowl of raw sugar and a few dashes of cinnamon, and roll each dough ball in the mixture until its thoroughly covered.

  11. If you want to bake them soon, wrap the sheet in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour, preferably two, up to overnight. If you want to save the dough to bake another day, put the cookie sheet in the freezer (you don’t need to cover it) and 1 hour later transfer the dough balls to a freezer ziplock bag. The dough will keep for up to 6 months, possibly longer. Do not bake the cookies from room temperature - chilling is a must.

  12. When you’re ready to bake, heat your oven to 375F.

  13. Take out one tray’s worth of cookies, then arrange them a minimum of 3” apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

  14. Bake for 8-10 minutes if the dough has been refrigerated or brought to room temperature, or 10-12 minutes if you’re baking them from frozen.

  15. Repeat steps 13 & 14 for one sheet of cookies at a time.

  16. Optional step: after letting the cookies cool on their baking sheets for about 5 minutes, brush them gently with some bourbon.

  17. Cool the cookies completely, and enjoy!



  • 8oz cream cheese, room temperature

  • 2.5 sticks butter, room temperature

  • 2-4 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • pinch salt

  • Stand mixer w. beater attachment


  1. It’s super important that both your cream cheese and butter are room temperature, otherwise they won’t mix together well.

  2. Beat the cream cheese on medium high until it’s smooth, then add the butter and mix on medium high until fully combined.

  3. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix (starting on low so you don’t get powdered sugar everywhere!) until combined.

  4. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Mix and taste - at this point you’re likely to want to add more powdered sugar for it to be sweeter, but do so only 1/2 cup at a time, tasting after each. You could prefer it with as much as 4 cups total of powdered sugar - that’s fine!

  5. Once you’ve added as much sugar as you’d like, beat the frosting for 1-2 minutes on high until light and fluffy.


  1. Level your cake layers one at a time - take a long serrated bread knife and put it against the side of the cake where the highest part of the edge is. Brace your elbow against your waist so that the knife is going to be stable and stay in the same place, and turn the cake, not the knife, to level the cake. If the knife stays in the same spot it will level the top off. This is much easier with a turntable - check out my favorite cake tools!

  2. Place a dab of of the cream cheese frosting in the middle of an 8-10” cake board, and center a cake layer cut side up on top.

  3. Brush the cake layer evenly with 1-2TB of bourbon.

  4. Spread 1.5-2c of cream cheese frosting on the cake layer.

  5. Crumble up 2-3 oatmeal raisin cookies and distribute evenly over the frosting. Press very gently into the frosting to secure with your fingers or the back of a spoon.

  6. Brush the second cake layer evenly with 1-2TB of bourbon, then turn it cut side down on top of the frosting layer.

  7. Chill cake in the fridge for 15 minutes so that the frosting filling layer doesn’t smush out as you frosting the outside of the cake.

  8. Crumb coat your cake, then chill an additional 15 minutes. (Don’t know what that means? Check it!)

  9. Frost your cake with the rest of the cream cheese frosting, then decorate with oatmeal raisin cookies as you’d like.

  10. Watch people freak out in delight as they eat your cake!

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boston, massachusetts

© 2014 by Sarah Cohan