I changed up so many things in this recipe from The Kitchn that it’s half mine and half Sheri Castle’s, the writer-blogger of The Kitchn. I made it without alcohol, that’s one, I used extracts instead of citrus zest, and I used demerara sugar as a topping. I also switched up some things in the method; for example, coating the grapes in flour before adding them to the batter. I had read somewhere that this prevents the fruit from sinking to the bottom. They all did anyway.
Because I used a 7-inch springform pan, I baked this cake in a slow oven for an hour instead of 40 minutes. Sheri Castle doesn’t recommend using a pan with a dark finish because dark pans tend to burn cakes. But you can. If you reduce the heat 25˚F and test for doneness 5-10 minutes before the recipe says it should finish, the cake should turn out all right. I find this cake sweet but not cloyingly sweet. The grapes add a firm juicy texture when you bite into one.
No-Alcohol Fresh Grape Cake with Demerara Sugar (adapted from The Kitchn)
187g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
169g (3/4 cup) superfine or caster sugar
113g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided (85g + 28g)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
236ml (1 cup) apple juice
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Brush the inside of a 10-inch light-colored metal springform pan with olive oil. (If using a dark metal pan, reduce the heat to 375˚.) Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and then brush the parchment with olive oil.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.
Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar, 6 tablespoons of the butter, and the oil in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Quickly beat in the extracts.
Beginning and ending with the flour, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with half of the juice, beating only until the batter is smooth after each addition. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour on the grapes so they won’t all sink to the bottom during baking. Then sprinkle the grapes over the top of the batter. (The grapes will sink as the cake bakes.)
Bake until the top is just set, about 20 minutes. Dot the top of the cake with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Continue baking until the top of the cake is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes more.
Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing the pan rim. Serve the cake slightly warm or at room temperature.
Instead of apple juice, substitute a dessert wine (original recipe). Or substitute 1/2 cup white wine+1/2 cup water+1/3 cup sugar