Grapes are probably on my list of top five favorite fruits. Right now mangos are a top contender, and I do eat an apple a day. But grapes are just so addictive – they are probably the only fruit I could easily eat too much of!
I knew I wanted to bake with them, and had to spend quite a while searching for a good recipe. There are not a lot of baking recipes that include grapes (they tend to be more involved in the salad scene). However, when I saw this grape cake by Alex Guarnaschelli, I knew I had stumbled onto a very promising recipe.
I was not disappointed! I am absolutely in love with this cake. In fact, as I write this I am going through separation anxiety from the one remaining piece that I know is waiting for me at home. It was SO GOOD.
The magic begins with grapes, of course. I’m sure you could use any kind, but I went with black.
Be sure and toss your grapes and dried cranberries (or golden raisins if you prefer) in a bit of flour, to prevent them from sinking to the bottom during the baking process.
Part of why I love this cake is because it was just so well behaved. When I removed it from the oven it was baked perfectly. There was also no trouble at all removing it from the pan. (Part of this was because I finally got around to buying a springform pan. I’m so excited because now I can finally make cheesecake!! But that’s for another day.)
The glaze for the top is made from honey, ginger, and more grapes.
A big part of what makes this cake so good is how the olive oil, grapes, ginger, lemon, honey and almond come together in one flavorful, harmonic, Mediterranean burst of flavor. I sincerely hope you give this a try!
Olive Oil Grape Cake
Makes 8-10 servings
Slightly adapted from foodnetwork.com
1/2 stick butter, plus extra for pan, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 lemon, zested
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon, sifted, divided
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 heaping cup plus heaping 1/2 cup fresh seedless grapes, stemmed, washed, dried and halved, divided
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup honey
1 small ginger knob, peeled and grated, about 1 heaping tablespoon
Special equipment: 1 (9-inch) round springform pan or 1 (9-inch) glass baking dish (I used springform)
Note: It is very important that eggs, milk, butter and olive oil are at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a handheld mixer, blend the sugar and butter in a large bowl until they become lighter in color – about 5-8 minutes. Slowly beat in the eggs and lemon zest.
Sift the 1 1/2 cup flour, baking powder and salt into the batter. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the batter until they are incorporated. Stir in the olive oil and milk.
In a separate bowl, toss the heaping 1 cup of grapes as well as dried cranberries with the tablespoon of flour. Add this fruit to the batter and stir just until blended.
Pour batter into a 9-inch springform pan that has been greased with butter. Bake on the center rack for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cake cool on wire rack, then remove sides of springform pan to let it finish cooling.
Meanwhile, whip cream, powdered sugar and almond extract until soft peaks form.
In a small saute pan, cook honey on low heat until it is simmering. Honey will bubble, thicken and turn light brown (this should take about 2-3 minutes). Add in the grated ginger and heaping 1/2 cup of grapes. Turn heat off and let glaze cool.
Spoon sauce over cake. Add dollop of whipped cream to slices. Enjoy!