Based on a recipe from Downey's restaurant in Philadelphia.
Note: Since Meg Downey shared this adaptation of the family recipe in 1982, most boxed cake mixes have been reformulated to yield moister (pudding-in-the-mix type) cakes. For that reason, the original amount of pudding mix has been reduced by half.
one 18.5-ounce package yellow cake mix
1 (3 5/8-ounce) box vanilla instant pudding mix (see note)
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Irish whiskey
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped black walnuts
FOR THE GLAZE
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup Irish whiskey
1 tablespoon water
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan, preferably nonstick, or bundt pan with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Combine the cake and pudding mixes in a small bowl.
Combine the milk, oil and whiskey in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed until mixed well. Add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth, then add the beaten eggs in several additions until well combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes until slightly thickend. Turn off the motor and add the walnuts, stirring by hand. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 75 to 90 minutes, being careful not to let it get too brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan.
For the glaze: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, whiskey and water, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Pour one-third of the glaze over the hot cake in the pan. Let cool on the wire rack for 1 hour, then remove from the pan and invert so the cake is upside down on a plate; pour one-third of the glaze over the cooled cake, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 days. The next day, unwrap the cake, invert onto a second plate and pour half of the remaining glaze over the cake; recover tightly with plastic wrap; this process allows the glaze to flavor the cake evenly. On the next day, repeat the process, using the remaining glaze.