CELEBRATION CAKE & WINE: A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN

This is a very special feature, in that I’m writing about two of my favourite things; cake and dessert wine. I have a sweet tooth,  I can never say “NO” to cake, and I always prefer the sweetest wine pairing even with my main.

I’m unsure why I haven’t written this feature before, I guess I’m exploring food and drink pairing more, so doing a write-up whilst researching matching was inevitable.

I thought it best to sample a few different sponges, taste a variety of dessert wines, and see what the best fit was.

The sponge cakes were from Cake Décor in Derby. It is one of the oldest independent bakers in Derby, headed up by baker extraordinaire Michelle. Based in the Eagle Centre adjacent to Intu Derby, Cake Décor takes commissions for celebration cakes. If you’re looking for a wedding cake, birthday cake, or a quaint way to say “thank you”, make Cake Décor your next stop to see what what cake delights they can offer you.

The sponges from Cake Décor were simply sample sponges and not decorated; if you want to see proper examples of Michelle and the Cake Décor team’s work, head over to their Instagram now.

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Laithwaites in Nottingham were celebrating their first birthday, and I thought this was the perfect excuse to see what wine reserves they had. I popped into their West Bridgford store and over the course of the evening. picked up some great tips, stocked up my wine larder, and tucked into some delicious cheese and nibbles. (I have a really exciting feature on Laithwaites coming up, so do keep your eyes peeled for that.)

Now, there are hundreds of different sponge cake variations. For simplicity’s sake, I chose base flavours of vanilla, chocolate, carrot cake, and vegan lemon cake as these are the most popular flavours. I tasted cake samples with wine at the recommended temperature; refrigerated for the Hayot and Riesling, and extra-chilled for the Canadian Icewine and white port. Here are my tasting notes on the cake and dessert wine matching:

Vanilla sponge and Château du Hayot

The delicious light as air sponge with comforting vanilla in the background was a terrific match with the Hayot. The floral scent and fruity notes of the Hayot (I could detect tropical pineapple and Comice pear) went really well with this vanilla cake. The Hayot has a lovely golden hue, and is a striking wine to display by the glass. This is why I think this would be the perfect dessert wine to sip when cutting a celebration cake that has a vanilla sponge. (It’s my birthday coming up in a few months and this Hayot looks to be on the list of wines to sip on the big day – more on my birthday shennanigans in a standalone post).

Lemon sponge and Koonowla Fortified Riesling NV

The lemon sponge was also a vegan cake. As a cake connoisseur (I have eaten hundreds of cakes in my lifetime – just ask my size 12 jeans, they’ll agree with me), I can say hand on heart, that I couldn’t discern this vegan cake to be well, vegan. The texture was so similar to the first vanilla sponge that I tasted, that I had to put on my reading glasses and study the texture close-up. (Yes my partner walked in whilst I was doing this, and yes, he did give me an odd look, but I think he’s somewhat acclimatised to my healthy fixation with food.) The crumb of this moist vegan sponge yielded a little more quickly than the non-vegan vanilla, which isn’t a bad thing – and you would barely notice it unless you had magnifying glasses to study it with. This Riesling was the perfect partner to the vegan lemon cake, as top notes of zingy passion-fruit complemented the Sicilian lemon notes in the sponge.

Carrot cake and Pillitteri Estates Winery Vidal Icewine 2013

Moist, moreish and altogether scrumptious carrot cake was my favourite sponge to sample. It went incredibly well the Icewine, which I had just removed from the fridge seconds before opening. This is the most fragrant dessert wine of the bunch; I got a wonderfully heavy hit of refreshing mango and apricot, with a whisper of sweet lychee in the background. A deep golden amber in hue, this is another aesthetically pleasing wine that I loved the appearance of.

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Chocolate cake and Andresen 10 year old white port 

Best served lightly chilled, this deliciously sweet dessert wine with top notes of honey and apple was a really smooth drink. It was the perfect companion to the chocolate cake that delivered a deep, dark chocolate hit. I loved this dessert wine for a number of reasons. Firstly, it really brought out the cocoa flavour in the sponge. Secondly, this was the most versatile of dessert wines that I could sip alongside a tagliatelle dish (made with fresh egg pasta the day before).

My favourite pairing of Cake Décor cake was the carrot cake and Icewine. This pairing is highly recommended. I would love to know how you got on with the wine and cake recommendations. In the meantime, if you need more information about Cake Décor Derby or Laithwaites Nottingham, please do hop onto their websites now.

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