Baking Claire Saffitz’s Mascarpone Cake with Red Wine Prunes

Hi everyone!  

I’m back to tackle the 6th recipe from Claire Saffitz’s book, “Dessert Person”: Mascarpone Cake with Red Wine Prunes.  I’m skipping recipe 5 for now, because it’s not in season.  I’ll come back to that one in the Fall.

This is another simple recipe that can be made any time of year.  This is the first level 2 (Easy) recipe I’ve attempted!  It’s still very straightforward though.  It involves mascarpone, which is an Italian cheese so it’s not dairy-free.  It’s similar to American cream cheese, but not as firm and it’s creamier. 

So we’ll start by making the red wine prunes.  You’ll need the following:

  • 227g pitted prunes
  • 355g light red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
  • 50g sugar
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole star anise
  • And 113g water

Pour all the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for 45 to 60 minutes, until you have about ¼ cup of thick syrup.  Transfer to a heat proof bowl and let it cool completely before using.  I made mine the night before and refrigerated it overnight.

Necessary equipment includes a digital food scale, small saucepan, 9 inch cake pan, parchment paper, hand-mixer or whisk, 2 large bowls, rubber spatula, offset spatula, oven mitts, toothpicks, and a cooling rack.

You will need…

  • butter for the pan
  • 130g all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg at room temp
  • 2 large egg yolks at room temp
  • 200g sugar
  • 113g mascarpone at room temp, plus more for serving later
  • 57g melted and cooled butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • and 2 tsp lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Okay, time to prepare the pan.  Butter the pan on the bottom and all over the sides.  Cut the parchment paper into a circle slightly smaller than the bottom of the pan.  Butter than too, place it in the pan, and set it aside.

In a large bowl, pour in all the dry ingredients.  Whisk to combine and set aside.

In the other bowl, pour in the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar and whisk until the mixture is pale.  Then add in the rest of the wet ingredients and whisk until nice and smooth.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the wet mixture into the dry and whisk until you get a homogeneous mixture.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top.  It may seem a little thin, but that’s fine.

Now grab your prune mixture from earlier.  I took an added step of separating the prunes from the syrup and cutting them in half, but you don’t need to do this.  Using a spoon, scoop out the prunes and dot them across your batter.  Be careful not to get any of the red wine syrup on the batter, as that will burn in the oven before the cake is done.

Place the cake in the oven in the center rack and bake for 45 to 60 min.  When doing the toothpick test, it should come out a little wet, but mostly clean.  The top of the cake should be firm and golden brown.

Ta da!  The prunes may have moved around while baking.  Let the cake cool completely in the pan.  After it’s cooled, invert it into a cooling rack.  Peel off the parchment paper if it’s stuck to the bottom, and invert it again onto a serving plate.

Time to test!  Drizzle your slice with some red wine syrup and top with a dollop of mascarpone.  

This one was my favorite recipe so far.  It looks so fancy but it was easy to make and it was so delicious.  The mascarpone is very creamy without being too heavy and the prunes give it a nice touch of sweetness.  You can taste the lemon zest too, so if you like lemon, this is for you.

If you made this recipe, let me know your thoughts in the comments!  I’ll be back next time, with another recipe from Dessert Person.

Bon Appétit!


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