Thursday, 3 July 2008

Baking with Wine....

Lest you think I'm a dipsomaniac baker capable of whacky 'Swedish Chef' style antics, this feature is about baking cakes with wine, and hilarious as tipsy baking might be, I'd advocate a judicious splash of wine in sweet things to bring a bit of sparkle to your baking sessions - whilst enjoying a heftig glass of the stuff - afterwards, of course. 

Baking with wine is not unheard of, after all Claire Clark, head pastry chef at Napa Valley's French Laundry, has a recipe for chocolate red wine cake in her excellent baking book Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts (Absolute Press), and there is such a thing as wine flour in Canada which sounds intriguing

This chocolate red wine cake recipe is inspired by one I tasted on a recent press trip to southwest Germany's wine regions - it's a classic buttery, Victoria sponge-style formula. The wine adds depth of flavour to the cake, rather than an overt 'wine' flavour...

Serves 12 
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125ml red wine - any will do, although save the good stuff for drinking!
  • 125ml sour cream
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 75g dark chocolate chips (a decadent addition, not obligatory)
Preheat oven 180ºC, lightly oil a scalloped 'bundt cake' tin, or just an ordinary 22cm round cake tin

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, add the egg one at a time and beat after each addition. Add the sour cream, then the wine and beat together. This will look like a rather unappetizing mess, persevere though, it will be worth it

To this mauve-ish mixture, add your spices and salt, then sift in the flour and cocoa powder, adding the optional chocolate chips at this stage. Fold through with a large metal spoon until the mixture looks even (it will be quite moist), then spoon into the cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes. It should have risen, be firm to the touch and if in doubt, insert a skewer to check there's no uncooked mixture left - it should come out clean

Allow to cool, dust with icing sugar and serve with redcurrants, chopped peaches and perhaps a glass of Pinot...

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