A Blushing, Slightly Tipsy Cake Kicks Off The Fall Cookbook Cake Parade!

October  3, 2016

Welcome to The Fall Cookbook Cake Parade: a new cake from a new cookbook every day of October. Are your costumes cake pans ready?

First up: A pink cake full of bubbles that's got vintage written all over it.

The introduction to American Cake by Anne Byrn is subtitled simply "The History of Cake in America," and in it, Byrn explains that "cakes have become an icon of American culture and a window into understanding ourselves"—that they reflect our "lives, heritage, and hometowns." Cakes somehow evoke a time and a place, either in personal history or long before that.

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This is very true when it comes to the Pink Champagne Cake, a mid-20th century creation, a bright, jazzy little number that screams vintage pillbox hats and fancy cocktail parties. Anne Byrn writes of this sparkling cake:

In 1960, women who frequented the nightclub scene sipped pink Champagne, or at least that’s what the gossip columnists said. In England, Princess Margaret was out sipping pink Champagne in the wee hours, and pink Champagne was the drink of choice of Hollywood starlets, too. Women’s clubs hosted pink Champagne luncheons on festive occasions. And when not poured into glasses, pink Champagne was a fashionable color of jewelry, even a shade of shag carpeting.

Johnson’s Model Bakery in Medford, Oregon, that same year baked a Christmas Pink Champagne Cake, and later variations popped up in Oregon and California. From the Yosemite Bakery in Modesto, California, to the Modern Cake Shop in Eureka, Kansas, where the cake was “filled with Bavarian champagne-flavored butter cream,” this cake was fun, fresh, and hip. It is still baked at McGavin’s Bakery in Bremerton, Washington, containing no Champagne, and at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California. The Los Angeles Times has said this cake is one of its most requested cake recipes of all time. It is just right for showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, and graduations.

This recipe is adapted from the one originally shared in the Los Angeles Times and republished in American Cake by Anne Byrn.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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    Anne Byrn
I love oysters and unfussy sandwiches.


Karin March 28, 2021
When I was a young girl, there was a bakery in Iowa that made this cake, and it was delicious! I’m looking forward to making for Easter!
MarZig October 8, 2016
I am gonna make this cake today in honor of my mothers birthday tomorrow , wish we lived closer so I could bring it over to her house...
Anne B. October 9, 2016
Such a special occasion cake! You will enjoy!
BakerRB October 4, 2016
This looks wonderful! I'm going to Bubblyfest this weekend so I'll be even more inspired to bake this when I return. American Cake is a wonderful read; I haven't had time to bake since picking it up recently, but I'm earmarking many recipes. I'm really getting a kick out of learning the stories behind the cakes.
Anne B. October 9, 2016
How was Bubblyfest? Definitely want to know more about this event! Glad to know you're enjoying American Cake.
Anne B. October 3, 2016
Hope you love this cake that is truly pretty in pink! It's a West coast classic and on the cover of American Cake.
Carlakay January 6, 2020
Anne, I am the granddaughter of Henry Johnson, owner and baker of the Johnson’s Model Bakery in Medford Oregon. When I was a child I had my picture on the fruitcake box for Christmas and they were marketed under “Karla Kay’s Fruitcakes. Unfortunately I don’t have the recipe for that cake. Both my father and my two brothers followed in my grandfather’s footsteps and all became bakers. I am ordering your cake book and am going to make the champagne cake the next time we are all together.