Sparkling Wine Bundt Cake with Strega Extract is a simple and delicious twist on pound cake, with a complex subtlety from the Italian Strega extract.
Happy New Year! I hope you all had wonderful holidays. Mine were stressful, so while Christmas itself was lovely, I can honestly say I was kind of relieved to ring in 2019. My resolution, albeit a laid back resolution, for 2019 is to get into the kitchen more and rediscover more of my cooking mojo. Yes we food bloggers can need inspiration also. Hopefully this will trickle down into more posts to share with you.
In the meantime, something I have been inspired by this fall is playing with interesting liquor-inspired Italian baking extracts. Those of you familiar with Pittsburgh will be unsurprised to learn I find them at Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. down in the Strip District. Not being much of a drinker (I’d like to be but because of my epilepsy I just have not experimented as much as other people my age, I enjoy the occasional drink and am mostly uninformed about alcohol), I never know what any of the flavors will turn out to be, I just find them fun to buy and bring home. This time I pulled out the Strega extract to play with. (Note that these extracts are imitation flavors but because I am just experimenting with flavors I have never heard of I went with it–it was not until I was chatting with my sister that I even realized that Strega extract was based off of a liquor of the same name, which now I would like to own to cook and bake with).
New 2019 resolution: buy the actual liquors that all of these Italian extracts are based on!
If Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona books are the first thing to pop to mind when you saw this recipe, well, you are not alone. I kept wondering if it would be weird if I called it my Strega Nona Bundt Cake, but when I realized Strega was an actual liquor I decided that muddied the waters too much. But I did learn strega means witch in Italian! The liquor has been around since the 19th century and, like many liquors, has a secret recipe comprised of loads of herbs and spices. One distinct ingredient is saffron and you will notice that the cake has a definite golden hue. Some other ingredients include citrus zests, cardamom and vanilla–and all of those flavors work marvelously in desserts. So unsurprisingly this Sparkling Wine Bundt Cake with Strega Extract was a huge hit. The glaze especially made the cake delicious, giving it a sweet and almost crispy but not quite exterior. Because of this the Nordic Ware Brilliance Bundt pan was an, ahem, particularly brilliant choice for this cake, with all of those edges to catch the glaze.
Closely adapted from my Vinho Verde Pound Cake, in turn closely adapted from Southern Living.
- ⅔ cup milk
- ⅓ cup dry sparkling wine, such as Prosecco or Vinho Verde
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
- 1 t Strega extract
- 3 cups (378 g) AP flour
- ½ t baking powder
- ½ t baking soda
- ¼ t salt
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 T sparkling wine
- 1 T milk
- 1/4 t strega extract
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. Set aside. (I like to use a smaller bundt pan plus some mini loaves and then adjust the baking time accordingly so I can use the more interesting bundt pans.)
Stir together milk and wine and then set aside to let stand for 10 minutes.
Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and Strega extracts.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, in 3 and 2 additions. Mix at low speed just until blended after each addition; do not overmix.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake for 65-70 minutes for a 12 cup bundt, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (reduce the time for smaller cakes and pay attention to your nose). Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; then invert cake onto a wire rack. Place foil underneath the rack to catch the glaze.
Make the glaze by whisking together the glaze ingredients. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes, until it is no longer hot but still warm. Brush or drizzle the glaze over the top and sides of cake. Cool completely before slicing.
I have never even smelled proper Strega liquor let alone tasted it, but I would not hesitate to use it in place of the extract. Start with 1 tablespoon and let your nose be the guide.
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