I have been trying to squeeze in time to work on my photography skill and have been taking the time to go back and rephotograph some of the older recipes on this blog. Test them out and see how they still hold up. I have been craving a nice fluffy cake lately so it seemed like a good fit to go back and take on this champagne cake.
When I first approached this recipe back in 2012 I wondered, what does a champagne cake taste like? Does it actually taste like champagne?
Making this cake again almost 10 years later I can say champagne cake is still one of my favorite cakes to make. It’s not dense like a german chocolate cake, I would say it has more of the airy texture of an angel food cake. Using cake flour is the secret to getting the cake to have that airy consistency. Cake flour is finer with less protein and less protein means less gluten is formed as you mix the batter. The lighter gluten formation is what gives the softer texture in cakes. For this recipe I used King Arthur Flour’s Unbleached Cake Flour.
This recipe comes from a book called “Vintage Cakes” by Julie Richardson. This dessert book takes older dessert and cake recipes and updates the technique and ingredients for the modern kitchen. It’s like a beautiful church potluck redone for the day and age of Pinterest.
The first time I made this cake it was for a Christmas party and it only uses a half of a bottle of champagne so it’s perfect to have a bit of a sip while you are baking. The best part of this cake though is the delicious custard filling that is a creamy champagne spread. For the frosting of this cake it’s a homemade whipped cream with a bit of the champagne custard mixed in.
You could easily make this a pink champagne cake by adding just a tiny pinch of pink food dye to the batter.
Champagne Cake Recipe:
bake time: 34-38 minutes
equipment and tools needed: two 8 by 2-inch round cake pans, greased and bottoms lined with parchment paper circles, mixer with whisk attachement or whisk.
- 3 cups cake flour, sifted
- 2.5 tsps baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 4 eggs at room temp
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 cup dry sparkling wine
custard: (can be made 24 hours in advance)
- 1.5 cups half and half
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup dry sparkling wine
- 2.5 tbs of corn starch
- 2 tbs unsalted butter
- 1 tbs pure vanilla extract
frosting (Put the mixer bowl in the freezer so it’s chilled when ready to use):
- 1.5 cups heavy cream cold
- 3 tbs sugar
- Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350 F and place the mixer bowl and whisk into the freezer.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, then whisk the mixture by hand to ensure the ingredients are well mixed.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the eggs, sugar and vanilla together on medium speed for one minute. with your mixer on low speed, drizzle the oil into the mixture until well combined. add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the wine in two parts. beginning and ending with the flour. after each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl. the batter will be thin. stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula to ensure you do not over beat the batter.
- Divide the batter evenly between pans (there will be approximately 1 pound per pan). bake in the middle of the oven until the center springs back when lightly touched, 34-38 minutes. the cakes will be slightly domed and golden in the center. cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. flip the cakes out of the pans, leaving on the paper until you assemble the cake. let them continue to cool on the rack top side up until they reach room temperature.
- For the champagne custard, heat the half and half over low heat in a medium saucepan until it is hot but not boiling.
- Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a bowl. blend in the wine, followed by the cornstarch. slowly whisk about a third of the hot half and half into the yolk mixture. pour this mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot half and half and gently cook over medium low heat, whisking steadily until the mixture begins to thicken and has bubbled for for roughly 1 minute. strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the custard chunks (nobody likes a chunky custard) into a clean shallow bowl and whisk in the butter and vanilla until the butter melts. place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and refrigerate until cool at least an hour (i did overnight).
- Cut each cake layer in equal halves to create four layers (i refrigerated mine overnight). lay on of the two bottom layers, cut side up, on a flat plate. using a metal spatula, spread a heaping 1/2 cup of the custard over the cake layer, out to about a fourth inch from the edge. stack the second bottom cake layer, cut side up on top of the custard layer and repeat with another heaping 1/2 cup of custard …don’t put custard on the top layer… you should have about 1/2 cup of custard left in the bowl, this will be used for the frosting!
- Stack the last layer of the cake cut side down on top of the last custard layer. refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes or until the cake and custard holds the cake together without being too wobbly.
- For the whipped cream frosting, remove the bowl and whisk attachment from the freezer, pour in the cream, and begin to whip it on medium-low speed. when the whisk begins leaving tracks in the cream, add the sugar. increase speed to medium high and whip until the cream holds a medium-firm peak. stop the mixer at this point rather than over whipping the cream, as you can always continue with a few strokes of a hand whisk if you realize the cream is too soft. fold in the reserved 1/2 cup of custard. finish the cake by frosting the sides and top with the whipped cream frosting. refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes to let it set.