In Good Spirits

Infused with a generous pour of Cabernet from the start and doused with an additional slug of brown sugar-enriched syrup, soaking each nook and cranny with a strong dose of sweet red wine, this cake knows how to party. Perhaps the holidays would have been easier to manage had we all been so thoroughly sloshed.

Studded with large pieces of roasted chestnuts, it’s a limited time treat ideal for these winter months. Though the jubilant days of Christmas and New Year’s feel like a lifetime ago already, surely there are plenty of other occasions worth celebrating. Even a good old fashioned snow day could be an excellent excuse to batten down the hatches and drown your sorrows not in a stiff drink, but a strong slice of this tender cake. It’s perfectly acceptable to disregard the notion of “happy hour” if it’s just a snack, midday, mid-morning, or whenever the craving strikes- Right?

Plus, purely by accident, the formula became much leaner than intended by the clumsy omission of any added fat, so you can absolutely pass this off as resolution-friendly diet fare. Happily, the texture doesn’t suffer one bit without the oil; I would have never realized my mistake if not for my recipe notes. I guess it’s obvious that not all of the wine made it into the cake first.

Tipsy Chestnut Cake

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Five-Spice Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups (10 Ounces) Very Coarsely Chopped Roasted Chestnuts
3/4 Cup Dry Red Wine (Such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Pinot Noir)
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Crimson Wine Syrup:

1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1/3 Cup Dry Red Wine
Pinch Salt

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease and flour an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, five-spice powder, baking powder and soda, and salt. Make sure all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined and distributed throughout before adding in the chopped chestnuts. Toss to coat with the flour to prevent the pieces from sinking to the bottom of you cake while baking, and set aside.

Mix the red wine, applesauce, and vanilla in a separate bowl before introducing those wet goods into the bowl of dry goods. Use a wide spatula to bring the two together, stirring just enough to combine without over-mixing. It’s perfectly fine to leave a few lumps remaining.

Transfer the batter to your prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top before sliding it into the center of your oven. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes, until deeply browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, prepare the red wine syrup by simply adding the wine, brown sugar, and salt into a small saucepan set over medium heat. Cook just until the sugar has dissolved if you’d like the wine to retain a bit of its alcoholic bite, or allow it to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes to lessen its boozy punch.

Once the cake is baked but still warm, poke it numerous times with a skewer to allow the syrup to penetrate deep into the crumb, and pour the hot syrup all over. Let cool completely before removing from the pan. Although the cake tastes best the next day after soaking a bit, it’s quite delicious to slice and serve as soon as it’s cool.

Makes 8 – 10 Servings

Printable Recipe

23 thoughts on “In Good Spirits

  1. “I guess it’s obvious that not all of the wine made it into the cake first.” Hahahaha. You are just fabulous. It takes mighty skill to pull off exquisite baked goods such as your own after imbibing a bit of alcohol. Brava! This is very pretty, Hannah. Thanks for the recipe and for the chuckles :)

  2. This is brilliant! I never quite figured out what to do with cooked chestnuts I get occasionally (besides eat them plain) but I can totally taste all these spices and flavors coming together really well.

  3. I love a vegan chef who knows when to let the cake speak for itself and doesn’t feel the need to smother it in acres of frosting. This cake is magnificent. It is filled with the heady boozy promise of chestnutty flavour and deep mellow richness that needs no adorning. I think I love you even more than I did before. You are one clever cookie and cakes like this are right up my street. Feel free to deliver one right up my street the next time you are passing by in Sidmouth ;) there is a mug of tea waiting with your name on it ;)

  4. I love chestnut! This cake looks really amazing. I can only imagine how it taste like. I’m glad that you discovered this cake by accident..A cake without fat? I’ll gladly take a large slice of it.

    Now I just need to get myself some chestnuts..gonna bookmark this recipe!

  5. Mmmm the smell of roasted chestnuts… I’ve been enjoying chestnut butter in my yoghurts lately after trying them in Paris…and brought back a couple of jars with me. Such a lovely bread, Hannah!

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