this time last week i was up to my neck in cake batter that had been spiked with champagne. there was an impending opera premiere, and like all opera premieres, it required cake.
the thing about making mini cakes in someone else's kitchen is that you find yourself doing silly things like hollowing out tomato paste cans to use instead of biscuit cutters and measuring every single ingredient using just a teaspoon and a quarter cup. (the former mathlete in me was proud when i nailed the 2/3 cup of champagne.) the real joy came when i got to style these puppies using all foreign dishes and props, and then top them with fresh stevia leaves grown right outside. have you ever had a stevia leaf? it is so lovely and sweet.
more joy came of course when i served a bunch of hungry friends cake. add that to my list of hobbies: serving friends cake in a post-opera situation.
these little cakes are incredibly moist and at a real good point between dense and light. they're based on my new go-to vanilla cake recipe, from pastry affair, and they're accompanied by a simple fresh whipped cream. i should mention that the libretto for the opera had a really wonderful line about cheese, so in my first test batch of these cakes, the whipped cream got a heavy dose of ricotta folded in. which i thought was yum. eggboy thought it was odd though, so i left it out of the party cakes, but if you're feeling that you'd like your wine cake to have some cheese cream, then do it.
for the cake:
1 3/4 c cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
2 tb vanilla extract
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/3 c plain yogurt
2/3 c champagne
for the whipped cream:
1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
2 tb powdered sugar, or more to taste
a healthy splash of champagne, or more to taste
fresh stevia leaves or other pretty edible plants
preheat oven to 350. line a 9 x 13 casserole dish or half sheet pan with foil (using enough so that it hangs over the sides), grease it, and set it aside.
in a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
beat in the vanilla, oil, and yogurt. gradually add the dry ingredients, and then add the champagne, to form a smooth batter.
pour the batter into your pan and bake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. (check the cake after 18 minutes and add more time as needed.)
let the cake cool. use the foil to lift the cake out of the pan. wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for at least an hour or overnight.
to make the whipped cream, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. add the powdered sugar and champagne and beat to stiff peaks.
to assemble the cakes, use a 2- to 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out cake circles. if the cake was baked in a 9 by 13 casserole dish, the layers may be quite tall for a mini cake, so i would recommend slicing them in half. stack up the cakes, 3 layers each, with a bit of cream in between. dust with powdered sugar, top with desired garnishes, and enjoy!