Vanilla Cake With Red Wine-Soaked Plums & Mascarpone Whip

May 19, 2023
3 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • makes 1 (9-inch-round) cake
Author Notes

This recipe is honestly not about the cake. The cake is lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it is merely a vessel for the gorgeous topper: rich, whipped mascarpone and red wine-soaked plums. The wine (anything from cabernet sauvignon to pinot noir will do) is first distilled into a simple syrup—though traditionally made with water, just about any liquid paired in equal amounts with granulated sugar will work.

The red wine simple syrup is used in two ways in this recipe: First, as a soak for the vanilla cake. This gives the finished dessert a slightly marbled appearance when cut into, plus it allows the cake to retain its moisture for a few extra days when left on the counter. Second, for soaking the plums. This results in a sumptuous topper that has just a touch of acidity and oakyness—perfect for cutting through silky mascarpone and sweet vanilla cake. For extra goodness, drizzle the remaining red wine simple syrup over the top of the cake. —Emily Ziemski

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is a part of Wine Week—seven days celebrating all things wine—presented in partnership by our friends at Bread & Butter Wines.

What You'll Need
  • For the cake:
  • 8 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for coating pan
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk, room temperature
  • For the red wine simple syrup:
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • For the plum garnish & mascarpone whip:
  • 2 plums, pitted and sliced
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 6 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  1. Make the cake: Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter, then sprinkle in sugar (up to ¼ cup) until lightly coated. Tap out the excess.
  2. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, plus the vanilla bean paste, scraping down the bowl in between additions. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Alternating between the two, add half of the flour mixture, then half of the milk to the butter-egg mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until just combined and no flour pockets remain. Transfer the batter to the pan. Bake in the oven, 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake pan to a cooling rack and let cool, removing the cake from the pan after about 15 minutes.
  3. Make the red wine simple syrup: In a small pot, combine the wine and sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has slightly reduced, about 7 to 9 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Make the plum garnish: Once the red wine syrup has cooled, about 15 minutes, transfer ⅔ of the glaze to a large, shallow bowl. Add the plums to the bowl and allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
  5. Make the mascarpone whip: Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream and sugar until peaks begin to form. Add the mascarpone and salt, continuing to whip until soft peaks form.
  6. Assemble the cake: If the cake has domed during baking, trim the top using a serrated knife so it is flat. Using a pastry brush, dab the remaining wine glaze over the top of the cake until evenly coated.
  7. Top the cake with the mascarpone whip, swirling using a spatula. Arrange the soaked plums in a circle around the cake. Serve at room temperature, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Emily Ziemski

Recipe by: Emily Ziemski

Food Editor @ Food52

1 Review

[email protected] August 13, 2023
🤔 Per above written ingredients— note that 1 stick of unsalted butter is 4 ounces, not 8. Please clarify!