Top | Vintage Cakes

Champagne Cake

(recipe, Julie Richardson)

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    1. 3 cups (11¼ ounces) sifted cake flour
    2. 2½ tsp. baking powder
    3. ½ tsp. fine sea salt
    4. 4 eggs, at room temperature
    5. 1¾ cups (12¼ ounces) sugar
    6. 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    7. 1 cup canola oil
    8. 1 cup dry sparkling white wine
    1. 1½ cups half-and-half
    2. 4 egg yolks
    3. ½ cup (3½ ounces) sugar
    4. Pinch of fine sea salt
    5. ⅓ cup dry sparkling white wine
    6. 2½ Tbsp. cornstarch
    7. 2 Tbsp. (1 ounce) unsalted butter
    8. 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
    1. 1½ cups heavy cream, cold
    2. 3 Tbsp. sugar


    1. Prep the tools: Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans and line their bottoms with parchment-paper circles.
    2. Make the batter: Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, then whisk the mixture by hand to ensure the ingredients are well mixed.
    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the eggs, sugar, and vanilla together on medium speed for one minute. With your mixer on low speed, drizzle the oil into the mixture until well combined. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the wine in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl. The batter will be thin. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula to ensure you do not overbeat the batter.
    4. Bake the cake: Divide the batter evenly between pans (there will be approximately 1 pound and 7 or 8 ounces per pan). Bake in the middle of the oven until the center springs back when lightly touched, 34 to 38 minutes. The cakes will be slightly domed and golden in the center.
    5. Cool the cake: Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Flip the cakes out of the pans, leaving on the parchment paper until you assemble the cake. Let them continue to cool on the rack, top sides up, until they reach room temperature.
    6. Make the custard: Heat the half-and-half over low heat in a medium saucepan until it is hot but not boiling. Meanwhile, thoroughly whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Blend in the wine, followed by the cornstarch. Slowly whisk about a third of the hot half-and-half into the yolk mixture. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot half-and-half and gently cook over medium-low heat, whisking steadily, until the mixture begins to thicken and has bubbled for roughly 1 minute (you will need to stop whisking for a moment to check if it is bubbling).
    7. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a clean shallow bowl and whisk in the butter and vanilla until the butter melts. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour. (The custard can be made up to 2 days ahead.)
    8. Prep the tools again: Before you begin to assemble the cake, place the bowl and the whisk attachment of a stand mixer in the freezer.
    9. Assemble the layers: Cut each cake layer in equal halves to create four layers. Lay one of the two bottom layers, cut side up, on a flat plate. Using a metal spatula, spread a heaping ½ cup of the custard over the cake layer, out to ¼ inch from the edge. Stack the second bottom cake layer, cut side up, on top of the custard layer and repeat with another heaping ½ cup of the custard. Next, stack one of the two top layers, cut side up, on top of the new custard layer and repeat with another heaping ½ cup of the custard. (You should have about ½ cup of custard left; this will be used in the whipped-cream frosting.) Stack the last layer of cake, cut side down this time, on top of the top custard layer. Check for any custard that may have oozed out between the layers, and spread it along the sides. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes or until the cake and custard seem stable.
    10. Make the whipped-cream frosting: Remove the bowl and whisk attachment from the freezer, pour in the cream, and begin to whip it on medium-low speed. When the whisk begins leaving tracks in the cream, add the sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the cream holds a medium-firm peak. Stop the mixer at this point rather than overwhipping the cream, as you can always continue with a few strokes of a hand whisk if you realize the cream is too soft. Fold in the reserved ½ cup of custard.
    11. Finish the cake: Frost the sides and top of the cake with the whipped-cream frosting. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes to let it set.


    You can store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.