Aperol Spritz Cake with Prosecco-Poached Rhubarb

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Choose deep red stalks of rhubarb for the most vibrant color atop this springtime dessert. The poached rhubarb syrup slowly soaks into the sponge, lightly glazing the top while adding delicious moisture to the cake below.

Aperol Spritz Cake with Prosecco-Poached Rhubarb
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Thom Driver
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 50 mins
Yield:
8 to 10 servings

Wine helps to create a moist, fluffy crumb in baked goods while bringing subtle acid and fruit notes. In this Aperol Spritz Cake with Prosecco-Poached Rhubarb, sparkling wine in the batter delivers aeration (from the bubbles) which helps to create a lighter cake, while the wine's acidity yields a slight tartness that's similar to the flavor achieved by buttermilk. The Prosecco is also used in conjunction with Aperol as a poaching liquid for rhubarb and oranges, gently stewing the fruit to a meltingly soft texture. After the cake is baked, it gets poked all over with a skewer and doused in the rhubarb-orange poaching liquid, further enhancing the tart, fruity flavors of the final dessert.

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar, divided

  • 1 (750-ml.) bottle Prosecco, divided

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (4 ounces), melted

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing pan

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/8 ounces)

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • ¼ cup Aperol

  • 1 pound fresh red rhubarb stalks (about 3 stalks), cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 medium-size (about 9 1/2-ounce) navel orange, cut crosswise into 1/4- inch slices

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with oil, and line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease parchment with oil. Set aside.

  2. Whisk together eggs and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl until pale and foamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 1/4 cups Prosecco, butter, and oil until well combined. Add flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and baking soda; whisk until combined and almost smooth. Pour batter into prepared cake pan, and tap pan on counter to release any trapped bubbles.

  3. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 22 to 26 minutes. Transfer cake pan to a wire rack, and let cool 15 minutes. Run a small offset spatula around edge of pan, and invert cake onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, stir together Aperol, remaining 1 cup sugar, remaining Prosecco (about 2 cups), and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Add rhubarb to mixture, and fan orange slices over surface to keep rhubarb submerged in liquid. Return mixture to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low to keep poaching liquid just below a simmer, and cook, gently swirling pan occasionally, until rhubarb is very tender but still holds its shape, 6 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove orange slices, and spread on a plate; let stand until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer delicate poached rhubarb to a fine wire-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl; set aside.

  5. Bring poaching liquid in saucepan to a boil over high. Squeeze cooled orange slices over poaching liquid in pan; discard squeezed orange slices. Boil mixture, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens to a syrupy consistency, coats the back of a spoon, and reduces to about 3/4 cup, 20 to 24 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour into a large heatproof bowl, and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

  6. When ready to serve, transfer cake to a rimmed plate or a cake stand. Add drained rhubarb to cooled syrup in saucepan, and toss to coat. Spoon rhubarb mixture over top of cake, piling rhubarb pieces in center. Let syrup soak into cake 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Make Ahead

Cake is best served the day it is baked. Rhubarb mixture can hold at room temperature about 3 hours before topping cake.

Suggested Serving

NV Fruity, crisp Prosecco: Santa Margherita Superiore Valdobbiadene

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