I can vividly remember seeing a recipe on a TV cooking show many years for a Spanish olive oil cake flavored with oranges. I immediately set out to make it and for years it was a regular in my dessert rotation. When I saw this Italian grape cake -also made with olive oil- I was eager to try it. Like the cakes I made all those decades ago this one is not too sweet and has this melt-in-your-mouth texture from the olive oil. Like the Spanish cake this one has citrus flavors as well, but also has a simple sweetness from the grapes in the batter. I would never have thought up a concept like this on my own, but it works so well.
The first time my sister had this cake she said it was her new favorite way to have grapes…and cake! This is a crowd pleasing dessert that’s unfussy, fulfilling, and delicately decorated with a little bit of sugar before baking.
The batter for this cake isn’t hard to whip up, but it’s important to whisk the eggs and sugar together before adding in the other liquid ingredients. You’ll also need the zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange for this cake.
Once the wet ingredients are combined then slowly add in the dry ingredients. Fold in most of the grapes and then pour this into a greased and floured 9″ springform pan. I like to add parchment paper to mine, but this is optional. Finally scatter the remaining grapes on top and then sprinkle with the rest of the sugar.
This cake needs about 50 minutes in the oven. For me the cake started to crack and I knew it was done, but if you’re unsure you’ll know the cake is done when a knife inserted into the center (not into a grape) comes out clean.
Whenever I make this cake my kitchen smells like a great, big lemon sugar cookie. But, you’ll have to let it cool quite a while before you attempt to un-mold it from the pan, no matter how the aroma beckons you.
The top gets a little bit of crust from the sugar and the heat, but overall this is one treat that’s not too sweet and doesn’t make your teeth hurt.
I will say it doesn’t hold up well in a cake tin as the moisture from the grapes can make it a bit soggy. My recommendation is to store it uncovered in the fridge to avoid this. However, this cake is so good that if you have anyone at all to help you eat it you probably won’t have many leftovers. Silver linings, eh?
Italian Grape Cake
Makes 12 slices
50m prep time
50m cook time
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus extra greasing
- 1 teaspoons lemon zest, from one lemon
- 2 teaspoon orange zest, from one orange
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups whole seedless red grapes, divided
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9” springform pan. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine eggs with 2/3 cup sugar and beat with electric mixer. Add milk, olive oil, butter, citrus zests, and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix on low. Fold in 1 1/2 cups grapes.
- Pour batter into pan. Drop remaining grapes on top and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake for 50 minutes or until knife inserted in cake (not grape) comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan before attempting to release.
Recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef.