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My husband’s family isn’t as heavy on traditions as my family, but there are certain things we always do while we’re together at the beach. The Hubs aunt and uncle live near Clearwater, FL and every time we go visit them we have to head over to Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill. Their She Crab soup and grouper sandwich are to die for. Until recently, I had honestly never had anything else to eat there!
And their specialty drink that we always go back for is the red sangria. We usually split a pitcher at the table. At the Rockaway Grill, they sprinkle cinnamon on top and it’s an extra little bit of magic flavor. You just can’t go to Frenchy’s without having the sangria.
Celebrate Summer with Sangria
It doesn’t really feel like summer at the beach until we have a nice pitcher of sangria with the family. This year my mother-in-law (MIL for short) had a big milestone birthday this year. Let’s just say she turned “thirty” and she looks great. And anyone who knows my MIL knows she loves her wine!
I love to bake for our friends and families so I usually try to make cakes for birthdays and special occasions. So in trying to figure out the flavors for my MIL’s cake, I thought immediately about Frenchy’s delicious sangria. How cool would it be to have a fruity naked sangria cake to celebrate such a big milestone birthday?
One of my favorite things in all the world is trying new food at the beach.
A couple weeks ago, my Hubs took me on a surprise overnight trip to the beach. We got to try out a bunch of new restaurants, including a couple new Frenchy’s spots and dishes that we wouldn’t usually order. It was really exciting and relaxing to just cruise around the beach towns and eat whatever we felt like.
Aside from trying out some new restaurants, we also tried some new variations of sangria. It really got my creativity flowing with how I would enhance the flavors of sangria in the cake. So I started by cooking a new batch of Mixed Berry Sangria Compote.
I ended up making the actual cake recipe three times. At first I tried a recipe with red wine and brandy added into the batter. It ended up super dense and much too moist. So I eventually came up with the red wine syrup to add to a normal white cake. I also switched buttercream frosting recipes in order to pack in the flavor of the red wine.
The result was a lighter, fluffier, and tastier cake. And after spending a night in the fridge, the flavors really set in and the sangria taste came out. Although you can serve it freshly made, I definitely recommend refrigerating the cake for 4 to 6 hours. Let it sit on the counter for about an hour, to come to room temperature, before serving. This fruity naked sangria cake will be the toast of all of your summer celebrations. Cheers!
Tell me in the comments below, do you like sangria? Have you ever tried it with cinnamon on top like Frenchy’s makes it?
Fruity Naked Sangria Cake
For the Sangria Syrup
- 3 cups red wine full flavored
- 1 cup brandy
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Mixed Berry Sangria Compote
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 ½ cups strawberries sliced
- ½ cup blackberries
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- ¼ cup red wine
- 1 large lemon, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
For the Buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp red wine syrup, cooled
- 1 pinch salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
For the Cake
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cups cake flour *if you don't have cake flour, use all AP flour
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
To Make Sangria Syrup
- Put red wine, brandy, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring them to a simmer over medium or medium-low heat.
- Stir the liquid occasionally. Allow to reduce by about ½ to ⅔, or for about 40 minutes. Should still be slightly runny.
- Place in a glass container and let cool in refrigerator. I usually make the day before assembling the cake so it has proper time to cool.
To Make Mixed Berry Sangria Compote
- Put all the ingredients into a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. Swirl or stir occasionally.
- Simmer for at least 30 minutes, or until fruit breaks down and mixture thickens.
- Place in a glass container and cool in the refrigerator. I usually make the day before assembling the cake so it has proper time to cool.
To Make Buttercream
- Using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, whip butter and vanilla for about 5 minutes. You want the butter whipped extra.
- Add in the pinch of salt. Then gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Scrape down sides and whip until completely incorporated.
- Once all the powdered sugar is incorporated, add 3 Tbsp of chilled sangria syrup. Whisk together for another 5 minutes then set aside.
To Make Cake
- Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans.
- Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, add all the dry ingredients and stir on low speed.
- Add butter, mixing on medium-low until the mixture is crumbly.
- Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing only until incorporated.
- Mix in buttermilk, milk, and vanilla. Continue mixing for 2 minutes on medium.
- Divide the batter between the three greased pans and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow cakes to cool in pan for 15 minutes, until inverting on a cooling rack. Cool an additional 10 minutes.
- With a toothpick or small wooden dowel, carefully poke small holes all over one side of the cake. Carefully pour sangria syrup evenly over each cake layer. I used a bit of additional red wine to completely cover the layers. Sprinkle with cinnamon and allow to cool completely.
To Assemble Cake
- Once cake layers are completely cool, spread a small amount of buttercream on a cake plate and place the first layer in the center.
- Using a piping bag, pipe a thick buttercream border around the outside of the top of the layer. Fill in the middle with a third of the mixed berry sangria compote spooned across the top.
- Place the next two cake layers on top and repeat the process as stated above.
- Place the fourth and final layer on top. Using a metal spatula, spread a thin layer of frosting on top. Use remaining buttercream to give a light, transparent layer of frosting on the sides of the cake. Sides should look straight and even.
- Decorate with fresh fruit for delicious simplicity.
- You can make this cake without the red wine, but the alcohol is cooked off in both the syrup and compote and it leaves a fantastic flavor.
- If you want a cake fully covered in frosting, make the buttercream recipe 1 1/2 times to have enough for the sides and extra for decoration.
- You can make everything before hand, refrigerate and assemble when ready. That way you don’t have to worry about cooling time. Just make sure the syrup, compote, and frosting are in airtight containers and wrap cakes so no liquid can get in. Let the buttercream and cake layers come to room temperature before assembling. Whip the buttercream with a mixer for a few minutes before using.