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A Cake for All Seasons


Posted on March 24


As my thoughts turn toward the spring and summer fruits we all treasure, from cherries and apricots to peaches and wild blackberries, I’m inspired to share a cake recipe that is the perfect palette for the produce’s juicy sweetness. Adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe printed over a decade ago, this rustic, show-stopping cake originally called for red seedless grapes as its featured fruit. Called Gateau de Beaumes-de-Venise aux Raisins, the cake is named after a French town in the Vaucluse “and the sweet, fortified wine produced there.” However, over the years I have learned that the cake accommodates many kinds of fruit (including fall produce such as chopped apples and pears); and the Beaumes-de-Venise wine called for can easily be substituted for a more readily available Muscat. This cake is scrumptious with lightly-sweetened whipped cream for dessert with friends; and is also delicious in the morning with a hot mug of coffee.

An important note: Remember to reserve ½ cup of your fruit to sprinkle carefully on top of the cake after it has been in the oven for 20 minutes. That will ensure evenly-distributed fruit throughout the baked cake.

Beaumes-de-Venise Cake with Fruit

(Adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe published in 1999)

 

Parchment paper

Room temperature butter and flour to coat cake pan

 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon freshly-zested orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Beaumes-de-Venise or other Muscat wine
1 1/2 cups fruit of your choice: chopped apricots, pears, peaches, plums; Bing cherries, blueberries, blackberries or red seedless grapes

 

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Smear room-temperature butter evenly and thinly on the sides and bottom of a 10-inch-diameter springform (or regular cake pan with high sides). Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Firmly fit the paper in the pan, then apply a thin layer of butter to the top of the paper. Flour the pan, coating all the butter, and knock out any excess so only a very fine layer of flour remains.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a bowl. In a mixer, beat 3/4 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil until smooth. Add eggs, orange zest and vanilla, and beat for approximately one minute on a medium-high speed. Add flour mixture alternately with wine in 4 additions each, beating just until smooth after each addition. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle 1 cup of fruit over batter.

Bake cake until top is set, about 20 minutes. Carefully sprinkle remaining fruit on top of cake; then dot top of cake with 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake until golden and crusty on top; and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes longer. If using a springform pan, release sides 20 minutes after removing from oven. if using a regular cake pan, remove cake from pan after 30-40 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Serves 10.