Italian Grape Cake is a classic Italian harvest cake made with fresh grapes, olive oil, and orange zest. This sweet and simple cake is a delicious way to bake with grapes.
If you’ve never tried Italian Grape Cake, you are in for a real treat! This cake uses small purple grapes with a hint of orange zest and cinnamon to give a moist and delicious treat that’s great for breakfast or dessert.
Why this Italian Grape Cake works!
While you may never have thought to bake with grapes, it’s actually a really sweet and satisfying treat. When you bake the grapes, they soften and add a light and sweet flavor.
This cake is a traditional Italian-harvest cake made with the leftover grapes. The flavors are intensified with the addition of orange (or lemon) zest and of course a good quality olive oil. And, while you may not be harvesting grapes, it’s a great way to use up your leftover store-bought grapes.
Whenever I bake this I like to deepen the flavors by adding a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. While this is not a traditional ingredient, I find that it really adds to the taste.
Italian Grape Cake stays moist for days! I love to have it with a cup of coffee in the morning or a midday snack. It’s delicious on it’s own, or you can dollop with with whipped cream.
The ingredients for Italian Grape Cake include kitchen staples like flour, baking powder, milk, eggs, and butter. What makes this cake really special is the citrus zest, grapes, olive oil, and cinnamon.
- Citrus Zest: including zest in this recipe is what makes it so flavorful. Some recipes call for both lemon and orange zest, however, I like to use just orange since it plays so well with the grape flavor. Feel free to add more or less zest depending on your tastes.
- Grapes: the key to this recipe is using good quality purple/red grapes. In addition, you want to use the smallest grapes you can find. While larger grapes work, they don’t sit as well in the batter. Also, don’t cut the grapes as you will made the batter too moist.
- Olive Oil: the olive oil in this recipe adds to the overall flavor and moistness of the cake. Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil if you can.
- Cinnamon: while this is not a traditional Italian ingredient, it adds a subtle sweet flavor to the cake. Feel free to omit it altogether if you like.
How to Make Italian Grape Cake
This classic and simple cake recipe comes together fast and is perfect for any occasion. So, if you’ve never baked with grapes before, let this be the recipe that changes you!
To start, you will need to grease a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. If you don’t have a springform, a 9-inch cake pan that is greased and lined with parchment would work too.
Step 1: whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (if using). Set aside.
Step 2: use a handheld mixer to whisk together eggs and sugar until they are fluffy and pale in color; about 3-4 minutes.
Step 3: mix in the milk, butter, olive oil, vanilla, and orange zest.
Step 4: stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Add in the grapes.
Step 5: use a rubber spatula to fold the grapes into the batter. Scrape down the sides to make sure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Step 6: pour the batter into the prepared pan. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the top. Place in preheated oven.
Step 7: bake the grape cake until it is golden brown in color; about 50-55 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Place the cake on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then use a knife to loosen the collar on the pan and remove. Let cool completely.
Step 8: Once the cake has cooled, dust the top of it with powdered sugar. Serve with whipped cream or by itself.
Recipe Tips and FAQs
Read all of my expert tip and FAQs on how to make the most delicious grape cake everytime!
- The eggs and sugar have to beaten together until light and frothy before adding other ingredients. This usually takes about three minutes with handheld mixer on the high setting.
- As written, this recipe will have a small hint of orange flavor without being overpowering. If you happen to love citrus, you could add additional orange or lemon zest to the cake batter.
- I like to bake the cake in a 9-inch springform pan. Make sure your springform is locked into place before adding into the pan. You could also make this in a greased and lined cake pan or 9 x 9 inch baking dish.
- Use the smallest purple/red grapes you can find here. Champagne grapes would be good, or cotton candy grapes, if you can find them.
While baking with grapes doesn’t seem common, the small varieties can be used in baking like you would use blueberries. Because grapes have a higher water content, you want to use the smallest grapes possible when baking with them.
If you have a bunch of leftover grapes, you can remove them from their stem and freeze them in an airtight container for a delicious snack. Leftover grapes are also good when cut in half and used in salads. You can also add them to a wild rice salad tossed nuts and vinaigrette. Small leftover grapes are great for baking.
Check out these other simple Italian-inspired cake recipes:
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Italian Grape Cake
- 9 inch springform pan
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup milk
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups small purple grapes
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray or butter and flour; set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, use a handheld mixer to beat together the eggs and sugar until the mixer is thick; about 3-4 minutes. Add in the milk, oil, butter, orange zest, and cinnamon, and mix until combined. Mix in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the purple grapes. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
- Bake on the center rack of the oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, the release and remove the sides of the pan. Let cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
- If you want more of a citrus taste to your cake, you can add additional orange and lemon zest to the cake batter.
- Traditionally this cake is made without cinnamon. Feel free to leave it out (or add more) depending on your tastes.
- Small grapes are key here. Try to find the smallest grapes you can. You can make this with bigger grapes if that’s all you have. Don’t cut the grapes to make them smaller; it will just make the batter too wet.
- Store this cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Or you can freeze for up to a month.