Baking with Wine, for Beginners or Experts
Most folks are familiar with the concept of baking bread or making batter using beer. And the thought of cooking a chicken or some savory bits in wine or another alcoholic beverage is certainly not unheard of. But baking with wine? As in, baking desserts and cakes and such?
Here are some recipes to try, and hopefully they’ll help you discover what wine can add to a baked good, besides a potentially tasty accompaniment.
Chocolate Red Wine Cake
Billed as a classic buttery, Victoria sponge-style formula, this recipe calls for red wine to add depth of flavour to the cake (as opposed to an overt wine flavour). It is very easy and quick to make, and requires only easy-to-find ingredients. It takes about 10-15 minutes to mix together and then 30-35 minutes in the oven; that’s fast enough to meet a whim for something sweet and tasty on a lazy weekend afternoon!
1 cup salted butter
¾ cup caster sugar (this is light brown sugar, available at your local grocery store)
1 1/3 cups self-raising flour*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ cup Red Wine (as a rule, whatever you like to drink is usually best)
* If you’re not using self-raising flour, add 2 tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. Melt butter (on stove over low heat or in microwave)
3. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until you get a small layer of foam on top
4. Add all other ingredients, including melted butter
5. Mix with whisk until smooth and pour into greased bundt pan (or any cake pan will do)
6. Cook at 325F for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is a bit crunchy and the middle is spongy
You can sprinkle the cake with icing sugar before serving, which looks great and, really, what could be better than more sugar? You might also consider adding chocolate chips to make it a bit more decadent. A light, moist and red wine-chocolaty delight, that is best served warm out of the oven.
Pears Baked in Red Wine
This would be a great recipe for a dinner party and especially appropriate after a heavy meal. It’s not too much, but just enough richness on which to end a lovely meal. It’s easy to dress up with an impressive garnish, such as a vanilla bean or gooseberry. It would also be delicious served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
4 pears (they should be able to stand up on their own)
1 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 vanilla bean (sliced in half lengthwise with seeds removed)
1 long piece of lemon zest
½ bottle of Red Wine (light and fruit forward is best)
½ cup crème fraîche (or pure cream, 45% milkfat)*
*Tip: in order to turn heavy cream into crème fraîche, just add a dollop of sour cream.
1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. In a sauce pan, combine all ingredients but the pears
3. Heat until sugar melts
4. Stand the pears in a baking dish, making sure they aren’t touching each other (a cake pan works nicely)
5. Pour hot wine mixture into pan and bake for about 1 hour or until tender (be careful not to overcook or the pears will fall apart when you try to move them)
6. Gently lift pears out of baking dish, cut in half or into slices, and arrange in shallow, wide bowl
7. Pour liquid back into sauce pan and reduce by half
8. Remove spices (strain if necessary) and stir in thick cream
9. Pour sauce around pears and serve with knife, fork and spoon
A wonderful, rich and sweet desert, with tastes of mulled wine and vanilla – great for this time of year!