How to Make Champagne Cake
What better way to celebrate holidays and special occasions than with a bubbly champagne cake?
Whether I’m celebrating Christmas, the New Year or a job well done, champagne is always welcome. It’s the ultimate celebratory drink (and it makes a great gift). However, it’s not always the time to pop open a bottle of bubbly. At my house, though, it’s always time for cake. So why not combine the special, festive feeling of a good glass of bubbles with the all-the-time appeal of a good dessert? That’s right: It’s time for champagne cake!
Champagne Cake Recipe
- 2-1/2 cups flour
- 2 cups champagne or the sparkling wine of your choosing
- 1-3/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 6 egg whites
- 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Makes a three-layer, eight-inch cake.
Champagne Frosting Recipe
The frosting for this cake is a slight variation on this classic buttercream—a great go-to recipe. For the champagne cake, I doubled the recipe and added a bit of champagne for a boost of flavor.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 9 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons champagne
- 2/3 to 3/4 cup milk
Choosing Champagne for Your Cake
For this cake, you can use any sparkling wine of your choosing. If you enjoy a dry champagne, opt for your favorite brand. If you like something a bit sweeter, try a prosecco or sparkling Moscato. And if you want to add a little color to this cake, pop for pink champagne!
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Concentrating Champagne Flavor for Baking
Champagne’s flavor can be easily overpowered in baking, which is why for this recipe, you don’t want to add in a cup of bubbly straight from the bottle. Instead, you’ll want a more concentrated flavor that will really come through in the baking.
Concentrating champagne for baking is simple, though. Pop open a bottle of sparkling wine—follow this guide if you need help—and measure out two cups into a small saucepan. Bring this to a simmer and let it reduce until there’s only a cup of liquid left. This should take about ten minutes. The result is half the liquid with double the flavor that’s just right for this recipe. Just be sure to let this concentrated sparkling wine cool down to room temperature before adding to your batter.
Mixing Up the Batter
Mixing the batter for this cake is very simple. You start like you would for any good cake. In one bowl, mix your dry ingredients—flour, baking powder and salt—and set aside.
Then cream together your butter and sugar until nice and fluffy using a stand or hand mixer. Then add in your sour cream and vanilla extract. Once those ingredients are well combined, add in your egg whites. Beat until nice and fluffy. Once those ingredients are well combined, alternate adding your dry mixture with your milk and concentrated champagne. Scrape the sides as needed.
Pro tip: If you’re using pink champagne, you might want to add a drop of food coloring or two to really punch it up!
Prepping the Pans and Baking the Cake
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Once the batter is ready, prep your cake pans for baking. For this recipe, you’ll need three eight-inch pans. Just grease and flour as normal—here’s our step-by-step guide. Then divide the batter evenly between the three. Pop this in a 350ºF oven for 22 to 25 minutes. To check if the cake is done, just poke a toothpick into the center of one of the cakes. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.
Let the cakes cool in the pans for about five minutes before tipping out onto a wire rack. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.
Stirring Up the Champagne Frosting
For this cake I wanted more than just a bit of champagne in the cake batter—I wanted some in the frosting, too! Using an American buttercream frosting as a base, I substituted two tablespoons of sparkling wine for milk.
To make this simple buttercream, just beat together your butter, powdered sugar, a smidge of vanilla extract and two tablespoons of champagne. Then beat in the milk until it reaches the right consistency—somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of a cup of milk.
Putting It All Together
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Grab your offset spatula—it’s time to frost! I like to add a small daub of frosting to my cake plate to start. This helps the first layer of the cake stay in place as I frost. Then just layer your cakes and frosting being sure not to over- or under-frost. Once the three cakes are all stacked and aligned nicely, move on to the outside. You can follow our cake frosting tips.
For this cake, I kept it fairly simple and just spread on the buttercream with a large offset spatula, but you can pipe or try other decorating techniques if you like! To give it a subtle but festive finishing touch, I sprinkled on some pearlescent jimmies and sugar pearls.
Slicing into the Champagne Cake
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When finished, this cake looks simple yet festive—just like a classic flute of bubbles. But the real fun comes slicing into the cake. It’s perfectly moist with a welcome hint of champagne flavor and not too sweet! Combined with the buttercream, it’s the perfect balance of sweet, airy and celebratory. This cake has me thinking that I’ll be toasting friends and family this New Year’s with a glass of champagne and a generous slice of cake.
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