Grapes and “Commandaria” Cake

grape cake2.jpg

I am fortunate enough to live in a country that produces some of the most amazing grape varieties. When I was little, my parents had a huge vine, which produced the best ever “veriko” grapes. I remember those huge bunches of round purple grapes, so sweet and incredibly crisp. Once in your mouth it’s like a bursting, heavenly, sweet juice ball. Rumour has it that “veriko” takes it’s name from the union of two English words, “very-good”, which were abbreviated by the locals to “veriko”. But another research shows that “veriko”is named after the Italian region whence it came in the 1840s.

Although “veriko” grapes are fantastic eaten raw, I had to incorporate them into cake batter. Plus I wanted to bake something in my new “Nordic ware” pan (I LOVE the shape). I used “veriko” grapes and added a little bit of “Commandaria” wine (sweet Cyprus wine) for extra flavor and moisture. The result is a really, really delicious cake, with cooked bursting grapes, the intense aroma of “Commandaria” and crunchy walnuts.

 

grape cake1.jpg

Ingredients

  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup “veriko” grapes (or other variety of purple grapes), halved and deseeded
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tsp extra
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125 grams butter
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup “Commandaria” wine (you can substitute port or other sweet wine)

Method

Preheat oven to 175 C. Butter a round, 23 cm cake pan with a hole in the middle and dust with some flour. Tap pan to discard excess.

Put walnuts in an oven pan and roast for 5 minutes until fragrant. Chop roughly with a knife.

Put halved grapes in a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon flour. Sift the remaining flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat butter and oil for a few minutes. Mixture will not be smooth and that’s ok. Add sugar and beat a few minutes until pale. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat again to mix.

Change the speed to low and add about 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix for 30 seconds and add the wine. Mix again for another 30 seconds then add the remaining flour. Beat until combined and smooth.

Remove the bowl from mixer and fold in the walnuts and grapes. Scrape mixture in prepared cake pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Invert cake on a serving platter. Cool to room temperature before cutting. Dust with some icing sugar if you like and serve.

 

 

 

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