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As my thoughts turn toward the spring and summer fruits we all treasure, from cherries and apricots to peaches and wild blackberries, I’m inspired to share a cake recipe that is the perfect palette for the produce’s juicy sweetness. Adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe printed over a decade ago, this rustic, show-stopping cake originally called for red seedless grapes as its featured fruit. Called Gateau de Beaumes-de-Venise aux Raisins, the cake is named after a French town in the Vaucluse “and the sweet, fortified wine produced there.” However, over the years I have learned that the cake accommodates many kinds of fruit (including fall produce such as chopped apples and pears); and the Beaumes-de-Venise wine called for can easily be substituted for a more readily available Muscat. This cake is scrumptious with lightly-sweetened whipped cream for dessert with friends; and is also delicious in the morning with a hot mug of coffee.
An important note: Remember to reserve ½ cup of your fruit to sprinkle carefully on top of the cake after it has been in the oven for 20 minutes. That will ensure evenly-distributed fruit throughout the baked cake.
Beaumes-de-Venise Cake with Fruit
(Adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe published in 1999)
Room temperature butter and flour to coat cake pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon freshly-zested orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Beaumes-de-Venise or other Muscat wine
1 1/2 cups fruit of your choice: chopped apricots, pears, peaches, plums; Bing cherries, blueberries, blackberries or red seedless grapes
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Smear room-temperature butter evenly and thinly on the sides and bottom of a 10-inch-diameter springform (or regular cake pan with high sides). Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Firmly fit the paper in the pan, then apply a thin layer of butter to the top of the paper. Flour the pan, coating all the butter, and knock out any excess so only a very fine layer of flour remains.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a bowl. In a mixer, beat 3/4 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil until smooth. Add eggs, orange zest and vanilla, and beat for approximately one minute on a medium-high speed. Add flour mixture alternately with wine in 4 additions each, beating just until smooth after each addition. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle 1 cup of fruit over batter.
Bake cake until top is set, about 20 minutes. Carefully sprinkle remaining fruit on top of cake; then dot top of cake with 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake until golden and crusty on top; and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes longer. If using a springform pan, release sides 20 minutes after removing from oven. if using a regular cake pan, remove cake from pan after 30-40 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.