May 31, 2012

Red Wine Velvet Cake

I get the urge to do layer cakes from time to time. But I'm so crappy with the final decoration that my mind images are usually different from what I finally bake. I don't complain really, there´s something appealing about baking a simple cake. It's my favorite type.

This cake is the result of chocolate and red wine being such a great combination. Whenever I have some left over wine, and it doesn't end up in a tomato sauce or boeuf bourguignon, I bake a cake that caught my attention from the first minute; it's from this trendsetting blog so you know it's good. Deb talks about it being 'the real red velvet cake', because the color is achieved without any food colouring. 
It is the perfect recipe for some red wine that will eventually be thrown away. Then I saw these brownies and once again marveled at the combination.

Since I really didn't know how I would use the wine, I boiled it with some spices, cinnamon stick, allspice berries and cloves, and put it in the fridge until I figured it out what to do. 
Since red velvet cake is an elusive flavour, my guess was that in this case it would turn out to be also hard to point. And it was really. The wine brings out the cocoa flavour a lot, but with a sort of caramel undertone, due to the dark brown sugar I suppose. Really hard to explain.

Cream cheese frosting was the natural thing to pair it with, and it work perfectly. 
I bought pomegranates a week ago, and I'm so interested in using them; probably because it's the first time I could find the fresh fruit. The remaining spiced wine ended up in a saucepan with some powdered sugar until it became a syrup. Together with the ruby seeds they rounded up the cake and I got the chance to sprinkle the frosted cake with more seeds. I can put them on everything really. They look so pretty.
The amount of sugar in the syrup is small because I specifically wanted a strong spice flavor to counterbalance the sweetness of the whole cake. You can add more sugar and have a delicious sweet sauce.

A word here: please don´t seed the granadas (in Spanish) with a brand new white t-shirt that you like. It will be stained, trust me, especially if it´s your first time and you start pounding on the fruit with too much enthusiasm. And do it with a flat utensil, a wooden spoon if perfect (not the handle). 
And when boiling the sauce to a syrup don´t go do some other thing, like have a fifteen minute chat on the phone with your friend, and forget about it because you´ll come back to find a sticky mess and a burned saucepan. Just saying.

I used this recipe because it´s one red velvet cake that doesn´t use vinegar, and I liked that since I was using wine already, which has some acidity. I don´t know why but the idea of mixing them together made my nose cringe. If you substitute the wine for boiling water and add a tablespoon of red food coloring, you have your red velvet.


adapted from The Sweeter Side of Amy´s Bread, by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree

Makes 8 servings


½ cup (120g) full fat sour cream
2 Tbs (12g) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (225g) boiling spiced red wine (recipe below)
3 cups (340g) cake flour, sifted
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
5 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 ½ cups (540g) dark brown sugar
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)


Preheat the oven to 350ºF /º180ºC. Line the bottom of greased 9- or 10-inch (24/26 cm) cake pan with parchment paper. Flour it if not using silicone pan.
In a medium bowl whisk together the sour cream, cocoa and baking soda to form a paste. Very gradually add boiling wine, whisking until fully incorporated.
In another bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder and whisk them gently for even distribution. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla.
Using an electric mixer, with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg mixture gradually, mixing well after each addition, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often.
Lower the mixing speed to low and add the flour to the butter in 3 parts, alternating with the liquid also in 3 parts, beginning with the flour and ending with the liquid. Mix until evenly incorporated. There should not be any lumps or dry pockets of flour remaining.
Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for about 50 or 60 minutes. The cake should be springy to touch and a tester should come out clean.
Cool the pans on a rack and unmold onto serving platter.
Fill and frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. Serve with Red Wine and Pomegranate sauce.

Spiced Red Wine:  Pour 1 ½ cups any good red wine into a saucepan. Add 1 cinnamon stick, 5 allspice berries and 2 cloves. Boil for 15 minutes, turn off heat and let cool. Transfer to a jar and keep refrigerated.

To make red wine and pomegranate sauce: In a small saucepan, put ½ cup spice wine and 2 Tbs powdered sugar. Boil until reduced to syrup consistency. Let cool completely and mix with seeds from half a pomegranate.
Keep refrigerated.

adapted from Kiss My Bundt, by Christa Wilson

4 oz (120g) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz (240g) cream cheese, at room tº
2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

Beat butter and cream cheese until it´s completely smooth and lump-free. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and vanilla and beat well until completely smooth and shiny.
Divide batter in two parts. Use the first half to fill the cake.
To the second half, add remaining cup of powdered sugar beat until well mixed. Use to frost top and sides of cake.


  1. I like the thought of using the red wine in the cake. Very cool

  2. Your first photo portrays such a striking image. Kudos!

  3. I like the addition of red wine in this. Yum!!

  4. I will definitely try this cake recipe. I am sure it is delicious!

  5. Paula, your cake sure looks pretty - the whitish frosting looks nice with the red pomegranate seeds. Red wine cakes are kind of very popular around here and even more so when its fall/winter in this part of the world but I have never seen them decorated this way. The stains from the pomegranate juice tend to be rather subborn, I agree. And your little warning with respect to the new white tshirt reminds me of Jamie Oliver who does like to hit pomegranates in a rather forceful way with that wooden spoon...what a mess!

    Have a good weekend!

    1. It´s so interesting to learn about food in different countries, what is absolutely common in one is unknown to another!

  6. Paula, Such a gorgeous cake…I love that there is wine in the recipe! Sounds so interesting and delicious!

  7. AMAZING!!!!! I would have some right now!

  8. I love the idea of wine being used for this cake! I make a lot of red velvet cakes with food coloring, but I bet the wine adds so much more flavor! A hint on seeding the granadas - cut them in half with we sharp knife and then put them in a large bowl of water. Pull them apart under water and the seeds will sink and the white pulp will float. Skim off the pulp and then drain the seeds! No white shirts ruined! ~ David

  9. This looks wonderful, I can't wait to try making it!

  10. What an amazing cake! The first time I see a wine cake, and it sounds absolutely intoxicating :-) Great pics too!

    1. Thanks so much! I´m happy to have found your wonderful site


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