Concord Grape and Fennel Cake with Amaro Syrup
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If you’ve only had concord grapes in juice form, you need to try this simple-yet-sophisticated recipe for concord grape and fennel cake with amaro syrup from the new cookbook, Salad Pizza Wine, by Janice Tiefenbach, Stephanie Mercier Voyer, Ryan Gray and Marley Sniatowsky.
“This is the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure dessert, because you can swap all the fruits, the fats and the types of flour and end up with an amazing cake every time,” they write. “We dressed this one up in the style of a schiacciata con l’uva, a type of Tuscan flatbread made during harvest using wine grapes and fennel seeds.”
For the uninitiated, amaro is a bitter Italian liqueur that comes in a wide range of flavors and styles. Here, the authors recommend using Amaro Euganeo, a bittersweet, aromatic digestif that’s made with more than 35 aromatic herbs. If you can’t find it, substitute sweet vermouth.
Excerpted from Salad Pizza Wine by Janice Tiefenbach, Stephanie Mercier Voyer, Ryan Gray and Marley Sniatowsky. Copyright © 2023 Janice Tiefenbach, Stephanie Mercier Voyer, Ryan Gray, and Marley Sniatowsky. Photographs by Dominique Lafond. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
Unsalted butter, for greasing
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided, plus more for dusting
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch kosher salt
2 large eggs
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons plain yogurt or sour cream
½ tablespoon amaro
1 cup fresh or frozen concord grapes
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons amaro
1½ cups fresh or frozen concord grapes
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan and dust the inside with sugar. Set aside.
2. Make the Cake: In a small bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt to combine. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, ¾ cup sugar and olive oil vigorously until light and creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the yogurt and amaro and whisk to combine.
4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until no dry spots remain and the batter is just combined, taking care not to overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top using a spatula. Distribute the concord grapes evenly around the surface of the cake and top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.
5. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool slightly before removing it from the pan.
6. Make the Amaro Syrup: Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the fennel seeds to the boiling sugar water and turn off the heat. Add the amaro and stir to combine. Place the grapes in a large, heat-proof bowl and pour the syrup over top; cool slightly before using. (The syrup will keep for one month in the fridge.)
7. To serve, cut the cake into slices and serve warm, but not hot, with a drizzle of amaro syrup and syrupy grapes.