Torta al vino is a traditional wine-country cake with white wine in the batter and seedless grapes (or any kind of berry) folded in. The acidity of the wine and the whole juicy fruits-baked grapes are luscious!-give this easy cake a delightful complexity of flavors and textures in each bite.
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to flour the cake pan and the grapes
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons soft butter, plus 1 tablespoon for the cake pan
¾ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon or orange zest, or a combination
¾ cup dry white wine
2 cups small red seedless grapes, stemmed, rinsed, and patted dry
or 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, or raspberries
For Topping the Cake During Baking
2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
1 tablespoon zucchero di canna, or white sugar
You will need: A 9-inch springform cake pan. An electric hand or standing mixer, with beaters or paddle attachment.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Assemble the springform pan; butter and flour the insides.
Sift or stir together the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
With the mixer on low speed, cream the butter and sugar together in a big bowl; when blended, beat on high speed for a couple of minutes, until smooth and light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well at moderate speed, and then mix in the olive oil, the vanilla, and the citrus zest. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes or so to lighten and smooth the batter.
Scrape down the sides and, at low speed; mix in the dry ingredients alternating with the wine. Add a third of each at a time and beat for a few seconds before the next addition. When everything's been incorporated, scrape the sides (and bottom) of the bowl and beat on high speed for about 20 seconds to finish the batter.
Pour and scrape all the batter into the cake pan and spread it in an even layer.
Sprinkle teaspoon of flour over the grapes and toss so they're all lightly dusted. Scatter the grapes over the surface of the batter. Swirl a spatula or knife around them, folding and stirring them into the top of the batter-don't fold or swirl deeper than an inch. The fruits don't need to be completely covered, because they will sink as the cake rises.
Set the pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the top is set, though the batter underneath will still be loose and shake. Carefully take the cake out of the oven-or just bring it to the front of the rack, where you can reach it-and scatter the butter bits and then the sugar on the top.
Return the cake to the oven and bake another 15 minutes or so-a total of 40 minutes or more-until the cake is set and the top is golden brown and lightly glazed by the final sugar and butter. Test doneness by inserting a cake tester or toothpick into the middle to see if it comes out clean. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack.
Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes, then open the spring and remove the side ring. Let the cake cool thoroughly before serving. (Remove the metal pan bottom, if you want, after an hour or so, when you can handle the cake: lay a piece of parchment or wax paper on the cake top (so the pretty surface doesn't get messed up) then a plate or a wire rack. Flip the cake over, pry and lift off the pan bottom. Invert the cake again, onto a rack if it needs to cool further, or onto a serving plate.
Serve at room temperature, sliced in wedges. I love the cake plain with just a dusting of powdered sugar, or garnish it with whipped cream.