In the type of Asian cooking we do at home, we only ever occasionally add a splash or rice wine here or there in our stir fries so I was a bit surprised when I first learnt about Western foods, that there was quite a lot of alcohol in a lot of the recipes I wanted to attempt! A lot of stews I wanted to make required red or white wine for depth of flavour, some required beer in the marinades to tenderise the meats- there were even cakes which required beer........all of which I'd love to try some day!
The extent of my alcohol usage in the kitchen is a bit of rum in my ice-cream batters to make them smoother and small amounts for soaking cakes in- so I did have quite a collection of bookmarked recipes I've never tried due to not having the alcohol required in the recipe. Most of them are recipes for savoury stuff like stews and other comfort foods I've been pretty intrigued about (since I haven't really tried much of them) and I'd originally planned to make one of them, until I came across this even better idea: red wine chocolate cake!!
I'm not actually a fan of wine in generally, much less red wine but this recipe received rave reviews online, the cake looked amazing and the idea of wine in cake sounded pretty interesting so I gave it a go.
The cake is pretty simple to make, just like your average chocolate cake recipe and whips up pretty quickly too. I made mine into individual cakes (using my friand pan since it was the only one which would fit into my small oven!) and sandwiched them with a bit of ganache.....because chocolate cake always tastes better with ganache ;)
Texture-wise, I was a little dissappointed as the texture is quite ordinary, perhaps a little on the dry and crumbly side though it's still enjoyable. Taste-wise, the cake retains a strong red-wine taste which I thought I wouldn't like, but it turns out that whilst it's noticeable, it's not too strong, so it ends up complimenting the chocolate taste quite well! I would've liked the cake to be more chocolate-y but that's my fault because I used Cadbury chocolate powder, which I find gives a very mild chocolate flavour.
The cake doesn't actually use up much red wine, which means I have plenty more to experiment with!! Yay! Any suggestions? :)
Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Note: I halved the recipe and made them into around 10 friand shaped cakes
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
400g plain flour
430g dark brown sugar
150g granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
530ml red wine (any kind you like)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
130g Dutch cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon table salt
Make the cake. Preheat your oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/Gas 3. Line the bottom of three 23cm round cake tins with parchment, and either butter and lightly flour the parchment and exposed sides of the pans, or spray the interior with a nonstick spray (I used a muffin/friand pan). In a large bowl, at the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla. Don't worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. Mix until three-quarters combined, then fold the rest together with a rubber spatula. Divide batter between prepared tins. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of each layer comes out clean. The top of each cake should be shiny and smooth, like a puddle of chocolate. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack.
I then covered and sandwiched mine in ganache but they're also good without it!