Don’t let the modest appearance of this cake deceive you. Like a fine pound cake, this white wine butter cake tastes of sunshine, something we all crave. You start with quality butter and fresh eggs. Then you add a little grated citrus zest. The secret ingredient is using white wine in place of milk. It adds subtle notes that balance the sweetness of this tender sweet.

Although I can’t prove it, I suspect that the wine enhances the texture of the cake. The acidity might help the baking powder work its magic. I can confirm that the flavor of dry white wine comes through in the taste of the cake.

A slick of orange glaze gives the cake more polish. But it is just as good plain. (I find many excuses to nibble it with any beverage at any time of the day.) To dress up a slice, practice your plating skills. For this photo,  I softened some home-made berry jam to a spreadable consistency with a little water. I brushed that across the base of a shallow bowl. Paired with two neatish scoops of Honeycone Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and fresh raspberries, the cake becomes a fancy dessert.

Tips on Mixing Butter Cake Batter

When mixing a butter-rich pound cake or a butter cake batter, use softened butter that is pliable yet still cool to the touch. Having the butter at the proper temperature helps the batter emulsify. The butter should hold in the air trapped when it is creamed with the sugar. You don’t want greasy-looking butter that is leeching pools of oil. It won’t aerate your batter properly.

This butter is too firm. It cracks when cut with a knife.

This butter is perfect, soft enough for my knife to sink into it.  But not so soft as to leave a greasy pool.

Set your mixer to medium speed when creaming butter and sugar for a cake batter. This prevents overmixing. When you add the wine and dry ingredients, use low speed. This prevents the protein in the flour from developing too much gluten, which makes a tough cake or one peppered with long tunnels. (Thanks to Dan who tried the recipe. His questions reminded me to add these refinements to the recipe.)

Charlie van Over, my best customer.

He shows the expert way tio finish White Wine Butter Cake

Kitchen Notebook

Friend and Nutmegger, Susan Purdy, wrote some of the best baking books out there.  Her book Pie in the Sky is a go-to for high altitude baking. I used her recipe called Anna’s Swedish Butter Cake from The Perfect Cake as starting point for this recipe. I reduced the sugar, enriched the batter with an additional egg yolk and swapped wine for the milk.

Next time I make this White Wine Butter Cake, I’ll make a raspberry cake by folding ½ cup fresh raspberries into half of the batter. Then I’ll swirl the raspberry batter into the plain batter. If you make it before I do, let me know how it turns out.

White Wine Butter Cake

Yield: 1 Loaf Cake

White Wine Butter Cake


For the batter:

8 ½ ounces all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

8 ounces (1 cup) cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 egg yolk

¾ cup flavorful white wine

1 tablespoon grated zest of a fragrant orange or tangerine

For the glaze:

2 Tablespoons orange or lemon juice

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted


  1. Grease an 8-inch loaf pan then line it with parchment paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth and quite fluffy, for 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Scrape bowl. Beat in eggs and the yolk one at a time on medium speed, scraping the bowl after each addition.
  6. Add the flour alternating with the wine on low speed in three additions scraping between additions.
  7. Stir in the zest.
  8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Even it off with an offset spatula. Run finger around edge of the pan and batter to help the cake rise.
  9. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake on rack for 5 minutes then remove it from the pan and cool it on a rack before serving.
  11. To make the glaze, stir together the orange juice and confectioners' sugar. Brush it on the cooled loaf. Let the glaze set before slicing.