Kristina is a parent of two, writer, remote worker, and volunteer. In her spare time, she enjoys nature, trying new things, and lots of DIY.
Harvesting grapes straight off the vine brings up a long-forgotten memory that I have from my childhood. I remember being at my grandparents house in the country, eating grapes off the long vine that grew along their fence, and spitting the seeds into the grass. The grapes were small, purple and juicy; tart and wild compared to store-bought grapes. I haven't had the joy of harvesting grapes for many years, but recently my neighbor offered to let me pick from the vine in their backyard. "It's either you or the birds," I was told. Without hesitation, I went and picked a giant bowlful (and still managed to save some for the birds!)
So now the questions were: what do I do with all these grapes? Jelly, jam? Wine? Juice? I started googling, and came across recipes for Tuscan harvest grape cakes. I'm part Italian, and trust me, I love all things related to Italian foods. I jumped at the chance to try out a new dessert, inspired by the grapes of Italy. The following recipe is my honey-glazed, whole wheat version of a grape cake, using the juiciest grapes of Iowa. Because of the whole wheat flour, this is a denser cake, almost more like a muffin. If you don't like the density, you could certainly swap for all-purpose flour.
Because I used less sugar, whole wheat flour, and a honey glaze, my kids and I indulged and had some for a breakfast treat! It's better than donuts, right? (No, nothing is better than donuts!) But with this dessert, I can have the healthier benefits of whole wheat flour and grapes, and have my cake, too. Another idea is to have an after-dinner dessert of grape cake paired with a glass of your favorite wine. It's almost like you're relaxing in the vineyards of Italy, right? The best part of this cake is the surprising little bursts of sweet and tangy grapes bursting open with each bite.
This recipe is adapted from the Whole Wheat Italian Grape Cake Recipe via the "Don't Panic Mom" blog.
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- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 orange, freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 1.25 cups whole wheat flour
- pinch salt
- 1.5 cups grapes, de-seeded
- 1/2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- For the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the seeds from the grapes. Cut in half and scrape out the seeds.
- Make your buttermilk by adding apple cider vinegar to the milk. Let it sit for five minutes until it starts to curdle.
- Combine the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, half of a fresh squeezed orange, and the buttermilk. Stir well.
- Combine whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
- Combine the dry and wet ingredients and stir into a batter. Carefully fold the de-seeded grapes into the batter.
- Pour the batter into a greased 8 x 8 pan and cook for about 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- For the Honey Glaze: Melt butter and honey in a microwave-safe glass container for about 15-20 seconds. Stir in the sugar. Brush over the baked, warm cake.
- If you live in a humid environment, this cake will last for only a day or two on the counter. You may wish to store it in the fridge to make it stay fresher. Enjoy!
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Step 1. Make the Batter
First, gather your ingredients. For this recipe, I simply mixed the dry ingredients together, the wet ingredients together, then combined both and mixed into a batter.
Next, remove the seeds from your grapes. I cut each grape in half and scraped the seeds out. Nobody likes a crunchy cake!
Then, make your buttermilk. Add the apple cider vinegar to your milk and let it sit for five minutes. You should see it start to curdle.
Melt the butter and stir in eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, and half of a fresh-squeezed orange. You could substitute for lemon, too. Or even use both!
Step 2. Bake the Cake
Mix the flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder together. Combine with the wet ingredients and stir together well. Then, carefully fold in the de-seeded grapes.
In a greased 8 x 8 pan, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Step 3. The Honey Glaze
When your cake is done baking, but still warm, prepare the honey glaze. In a glass microwave-safe container, melt the butter and honey. Make sure to only microwave for about 15–20 seconds, as this will melt quickly. Then stir in the sugar. Brush the honey glaze over the top of the cake. Don't skip the glaze. It adds a wonderful element to the cake, and it looks nice and shiny too. That's some serious yum. Once the cake is cool enough to eat, cut yourself a piece and enjoy!
Note: If you live in a humid environment, this cake will last for only a day or two on the counter. You may wish to store it in the fridge to make it stay fresher.