Continuing the theme of traditional Italian cakes… This one is wonderful with tiny Champagne grapes available in autumn. But small red grapes still produce a very good result. The recipe is Lidia Bastianich’s which speaks for itself. Although I found that following the method exactly, all the grapes end up sunk to the bottom. Now I scatter half of the grapes on top of the batter before sliding a pan into the oven, and add another half after 25 minutes of baking – at this point, the top of the cake is set and the grapes stay on the surface.
The cake is great, I highly recommend it.
Makes one 9-inch cake, 10-12 servings
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 8 tbsp soft butter, divided: 6 tbsp – to be used in a cake batter, 2 tbsp – cut into bits to be scattered on the top later
- ¾ cup sugar + 1 tbsp for sprinkling on top
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 orange
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 2 cups small red seedless grapes, stemmed, rinsed, and patted dry; divided
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until light. Gradually beat in the sugar, then beat on high until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Then beat in the olive oil, vanilla, and citrus zest. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes or so to lighten and smooth the batter.
Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the wine to the mixture; begin with one third of the dry ingredients, then add half the wine, followed by another third of the dry ingredients, beating only until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the remaining wine, followed by the last third of the dry ingredients.
Scrape the batter into the cake pan, smooth the top with a spatula. In a small bowl, sprinkle ½ tsp of flour over 1 cup of the grapes, toss to lightly dust them. Scatter the grapes over the surface of the batter. Do not press on them, they will sink as the batter rises.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the top is set. Carefully slide the cake out of the oven; scatter the rest of the grapes, dot with the butter bits and sprinkle 1 tbsp sugar.
Return the cake back to the oven, and bake for additional 25-30 minutes. The cake is done when a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven to a cooling rack. Cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the cake, unmold. Cool completely on the rack.