Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Torta al Vino - White Wine and Berry Cake

Light, moist, and fresh- this cake requires few ingredients and has become one of my go-to recipes when I need a dessert to share. I've only baked this cake with blueberries, I find the smaller wild blueberries work best, but you could also use grapes. The smaller grape varieties found locally during the summer months would be best but don't feel that you need to wait for berry season to enjoy this cake. Since February is far from blueberry season in our hemisphere, I used frozen wild blueberries when I made the cake photographed below and they worked beautifully.

Update: I've noticed that it's really important to dry the berries as much as possible before tossing them with a bit of flour. Fresh berries are easier to thoroughly dry so they'll sit a bit high in the baked cake, but both work very well as it's mainly the appearance of the finished product that varies.



Torta al Vino - White Wine and Berry Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to flour the cake pan and the grapes
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons soft butter, plus 1 tablespoon for the springform pan
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen) or red seedless grapes, stemmed, rinsed, and patted dry

2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
1 tablespoon raw or white sugar

- Preheat oven to 375˚F and butter and flour the inside of a 9 inch springform. I like to put a dab of butter in the bottom of the springform pan and line it with a circle of parchment paper and then butter and flour the pan sides.

- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar over medium low speed until blended. Increase the speed and beat on high until the mixture is light and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the eggs, one at a time, at moderate speed and add the olive oil, vanilla, and citrus zest. Scrape down the bowl sides again and beat the mixture at high speed for a minute or two to even and smooth the batter.

- Alternating between the flour mixture and white wine, add a third of each at a time to the mix at low speed while mixing for several seconds in between each addition. After all the flour and wine is added scrape the bowl sides and bottom with a spatula and mix the batter on high for several seconds to finish the batter. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan so it's even layer.

- Sprinkle a teaspoon of flour over the dry berries and toss to evenly dust them. Scatter the berries over the cake batter and use a spatula and evenly spread them over the cake and lightly sink them into the batter. Don't fully cover the berries with cake batter, the cake will rise up around the berries during baking.

- Bake the cake for 25 minutes until the top is set but the cake will still be loose underneath. Gently take the cake out of the oven and dot the surface with little bits of butter, the two tablespoons, and sprinkle with the tablespoon of raw sugar. Bake the cake for another 15 minutes (a total of 40 minutes) until the top of the cake is browned and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

- Place the cake on a cooling rack for 10 minutes and then open the springform pan and remove the ring. Let the cake cool completely before serving. The metal pan bottom can be removed before serving although this will be easier to do if you lined the pan bottom with parchment. Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Recipe adapted from Lidia's Italy, Lidia Bastianich

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