Red Wine Cake from Sicily

I like baking with wine and am always happy to find recipes where you can really taste it. This is a good one because along being in the cake, the wine is also part of the melted chocolate mixture that is poured across the top of the cake.


This was sent to me by Sonia. She lives in Sicily, so when she bakes American recipes, she has to find the Italian ingredient/brand equivalent and convert measurements to metric. The tables turned this week when she sent me this recipe. Along with the usual adjusting for metric and pan sizes, I had to think twice about ingredients. Why so much baking powder? Do Italians use large eggs or are they smaller? Does all purpose flour from Italy have the same protein content and is the wheat softer? What’s up with the missing salt? Is it in the butter?

So I pasted the recipe below as Sonia wrote it, but with my adjustments and questions in parenthesis. In the end, everything was fine. My cake was denser, more tight crumbed and firmer than American cake, but based on the cakes I tried in Florence, this seems to be how some Italian cakes are. And just for fun, I made a smaller version of the cake this morning with yet more adjustments. The second cake was the same as the first, but a little less stiff due the flour adjustments, so I think European all purpose and American all purpose flour might be different.

First, here’s a photo of Sonia’s cake and below that is the recipe with my notes.

Sonia’s Drunk Cake

300gr of white granulated sugar
70gr of dark chocolate in chunks
200gr of butter (plus ¾ tsp salt if using unsalted) — Anna
170gr of red wine
150gr of all purpose flour
15gr of baking powder (that’s 1 tablespoon, didn’t use as much)
4 eggs

Preheat oven at 340F. (A: Used 325 F). I use a 25cm round silicon cake mold but I guess any pan would do if it has the same dimensions. (A: Used 9 inch round 4 inch high springform)

Whisk sugar, chocolate, butter and wine. Then put in a saucepan and heat gently – it must not boil, until smooth. Save a cup of this mixture for later. (A: A cup in other countries is not always 8 oz – found out Sonia’s cup is about 150 grams….reserved about 5 oz).

Beat eggs, baking powder and flour and then added the remaining mixture of butter and wine. (A: 15 grams is a whole tablespoon of baking powder. A doesn’t like baking powder and  reduced it to 1 ½ teaspoons.  Crossed fingers.)

Pour the batter in the mold (springform) and bake for 35 minutes — check with the toothpick. (A: Cake was done in exactly 35 minutes).

Remove from the mold and pour the cup (5 oz) of butter/wine mixture over the still hot cake. Let it rest one hour before eating.


And here’s the small batch version of the cake which you may want to try just to see if you like it. This is super simple, but since it’s a small recipe and every gram of flour counts, use a scale if you have one.

Small Batch Red Wine Cake (AKA Drunk Cake)

Cocoa powder for dusting pan plus shortening
100 gr of soft unsalted butter (7 tablespoon)
35 gr of unsweetened chocolate (1.25 oz)
150 gr of white granulated sugar (3/4 cups)
1/3 cup of red wine (80 grams) (I used Cabernet)
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon plus a small pinch of salt
40 grams cake flour (1/3 cup)
35 grams all purpose flour (1/3 cup)

Preheat oven at 325 F and rub an 8 inch round metal pan with shortening. Dust with cocoa powder and line bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Melt butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and add the chocolate, sugar and wine. Cook very gently just until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Reserve 1/3 cup of mixture for topping.

Whisk eggs, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl, making sure all baking powder clumps have disappeared. Whisk in the flour, then whisk in the remaining chocolate mixture; continue whisking until most of the flour lumps are gone. Pour the batter in the pan and bake on center rack for 25 minutes or until done. Test with a toothpick.

Invert from pan and set on a rack set over a bunch of paper towels or a tray. Pour the reserved 1/3 cup chocolate mixture over top. Let sit for an hour.

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  1. Louise says

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a cake with wine in it. Lots of liquor, but no wine. I’ll have to try it.

  2. says

    I live in Europe and I think plain flour is the same. Baking powder usually I use it in teaspoons however in Italy they use sachets which I don t know but they must be a bit different from normal baking powder

  3. Kim Bouchard says

    Hey Anna,

    I saw this recipe and thought of you.

    Margarita Cake

    1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed pretzels
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
    1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix
    1 1/4 cups bottled nonalcoholic margarita mix
    1/3 cup vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon grated lime peel
    3 egg whites
    1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
    Additional grated lime peel, if desired

    1. Heat oven to 350°F (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom only of 13×9-inch pan with shortening and lightly flour (or spray bottom with baking spray with flour). In medium bowl, mix pretzels, sugar and butter. Sprinkle evenly on bottom of pan; press gently.
    2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, margarita mix, oil, 1 tablespoon lime peel and the egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pretzel mixture.
    3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until light golden brown and top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool completely, about 2 hours. Frost with whipped topping; sprinkle with additional lime peel. Store covered in refrigerator.


  4. Michael-Ann says

    That’s funny about the baking powder, I never realized it but all of the recipes passed down from my italian grandmother have a ton of baking powder in them. I wonder what the deal is……

  5. says

    This look positively delicious! I definitely have some left over Franzia to use up…cheap boxed wine, yes, but I’m in college. No further explanation necessary!

    I’ve seen red wine cupcakes like the ones snooky doodle posted, and I’ve always wanted to make those too, especially with all this leftover Easter chocolate still lying around.

    Another recipe that has caught my eye is this:

    Though I prefer red wine, I may have to diverge to try this cookie, just once…

  6. says

    Forgot to reply to some comments…

    Mary, I looked at that and a bunch of other articles and am still trying to figure it out. But I do think the cake flour/all purpose combo worked a little better than the plain all purpose. I used the same weights, so the volume changed slightly since cake is a little lighter.

    Also, it could be that I beat the first cake more and toughened up the gluten, but I don’t think that’s it. I beat them both.

    Both cakes were different, but the one with the cake flour seemed less stiff.

    Louise, try the small one first just to make sure you like the flavor.

    Snookydoodle, I will have to try your cupcakes. I’ve been in a real cake baking mood lately.

    Michael-Ann, maybe there’s is just not as strong, but thanks for letting me know you noticed the baking powder issue as well.

    Angela, I used a cheap but very good wine. I won’t say what it was, though. LOL.

  7. Sonia says

    Hi Anna,

    I’ve answered to the questions in the email and I think we do use different baking powders.

    To sum it up for your readers we have “cake baking powder” and that’s probably where we compensate your cake flour.
    In fact the cake is supposed to be soft and light, so probably using cake flour is a good idea to compensate the lack of cake baking powder.

    I’m glad you plublished it, my mum is very proud of me now even if I’m not the author of the cake! (ah… mums)

  8. says

    Mmm, wine, wine, wine! Sounds great. I love that the wine is used in the cake and the chocolate. How fabulous!

  9. says

    I just returned back to the states from Sicily. I bought a cookbook while there, and it
    is all in gs, kgs, etc. etc. Where can I get a conversion chart to American cooking

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