Several years ago, I tried a slice of Champagne Cake that was being served during a work party. It was Absolutely Fabulous (like the movie!) It was chilled (I don’t know if that was because like champagne, it’s meant to be served chilled or if it simply hadn’t been allowed enough time to properly come to room temperature,) and simultaneously dense and airy. The frosting wasn’t too heavy or too light. The curls of white chocolate were the final note that completed every bite of this delicious cake (yes, it was that good.) It should not have been possible, but it was heaven on a fork. I’ve attempted to make my own champagne cake at home, testing a variety of recipes – including the suburban housewife style boxed cake mixes.
I don’t drink, but if I did I’m assuming it’s the bubbles and maybe something about wine being dry that makes a champagne cake different from a regular cake. I’m probably wrong. I’m not a professional. With that assumption, I just used a few of my favorite non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice (like Cold Duck and Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade) as a substitute. I tried out Lemon Sugar’s recipe and decided to decrease it by half. I know, I know.
- everyone knows that you can’t just cut a recipe in half when baking!
I hate baking for this reason. Exact measurements are not how I roll, yo. Anyway, they were a disaster; my kids wouldn’t eat them, even though they had sugar. They were like rose lemonade cornbread muffins. Drier than dirt, y’all. I don’t know how the recipe would’ve turned out if I had just followed directions. I did borrow the simple syrup portion of her recipe in the final cupcakes that I made.
As you can imagine, I decided to skip the professional baker stuff and went with the Semi-Homemade Sandra Lee Style next. Erin of Lemon Sugar mentions it in her beginning comments, so I used an old recipe I had from my very first attempt at champagne cupcakes. It was simply a boxed cake mix with champagne instead of water. I used Cold Duck (a sparkling grape juice that is particularly yummy, and purple. Or red.) and though they were a super-appetizing gray-pink (blerg), they tasted delicious! tres bon! This time around I added two drops of super-concentrated red dye and yikes! They are bright pink. They are awful. They look like pepto-bismol cupcakes. But they taste delicious. Lol.
• go easy on the dye, you can’t take it back.
My third attempt was perfection. Three times a charm, no? My kitchen has been a mess for three days. We’ve been eating cupcakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (some of us more than others, ahem.) Here is my final recipe, a conglomeration of what you will find out there in the wide world of Google and Pinterest:
- 1 15.25 oz Box Cake Mix, vanilla or white
- Champagne (substitute champagne for water)
- ½ Cup softened butter (this is optional. But. More butter? Okay.)
- ½ C Bubbly drink of choice
- ½ C sugar
- ½ C butter, softened
- ¼ C bubbly drink
- ¼ tsp vanilla
- 4+ C powdered sugar
- Replace water in box directions with bubbly drink of choice (see our recommendations above!) Prepare cake batter per directions on box, bake cake per directions on box. Let cool before frosting with simple syrup.
- To make the champagne simple syrup, combine ingredients in small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil until it has reduced by half, and thickened slightly, about 3-4 minutes.
- To make the champagne buttercream frosting, beat the butter, add remaining ingredients. Slowly add powdered sugar until it reaches desired texture. Frost! (I used a Wilton frosting tip #1M.)
- If you use a drink that has a lot of color (red, purple grape juice) you may want to use a drop of food coloring so you don't end up with a gray cupcake (blech!)
I think there isn’t any single cocktail that I think epitomizes femininity and class more than a glass of champagne; like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, little black dresses and long black eyelashes. I’ve pinned a few images of Audrey Hepburn photographed with champagne over on good ole’ Pinterest (be sure to follow me @prttyplshdprfct.) I love her old photos!
Special thanks to Wayfair.com for sponsoring this photoshoot!