On Tuesday 18 May, my husband Francesco turned 28. Not being able to do big things because I got home at 9pm, I opted to make him a quick and easy dessert: the coffee cake! Delicious, it's also perfect for breakfast! Since Francesco loves dessert wines, I thought I'd uncork it for him. "Nottambulo' Toscana IGT Passito di Villa Acquaviva. I am tasting some absolute gems from this winery, first and foremost a Morellino di Scansano DOC Riserva 'Bracaleta' 2000 that I found to be nothing short of incredible, but I will tell you about that in the next few days! Today I want to share with you the recipe for coffee cake and my tasting notes from Nottambulo, with the hope of inspiring you with a tasty food and wine pairing. By the way, follow my podcast 'Red (doesn't) go with everything' dedicated specifically to pairings? You can listen to it for free on Spotify HERE.

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Coffee cake: my recipe

Ingredients for a 26 cm doughnut mould

  • 300g of 00 flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 100g whole milk
  • 80g of coffee
  • 70g melted butter
  • 50g sunflower oil
  • 8 instant yeast
  • coarse ground coffee


  1. Make coffee and let it cool.
  2. I used the planetary mixer with the whisk, but you can use the electric beater. Take the eggs and put them in a bowl with the sugar, then whip the mixture for a few minutes until it swells and mixes.
  3. Add whole milk and lukewarm or cold coffee and continue whipping.
  4. Add the fats - butter and oil - one spoonful at a time while waiting for the previous spoonful to be incorporated.
  5. Sift the flour with baking powder and add it one tablespoon at a time while continuing to whisk.
  6. Turn on the oven to 180°C in static mode and let it heat up. In the meantime, grease well a 26 cm cake tin with a hinged base or a 24 cm cake tin without a base. I used melted butter and a silicone brush.
  7. Sprinkle the base with coarse ground coffee. Gently pour in the mixture and as soon as the oven is at temperature bake for 30-35 minutes. Wait 30 minutes before opening the oven, then do the toothpick test: pierce the cake and when it comes out just moist, almost dry and without any pieces of cake it is ready.
  8. Wait until it has cooled a few minutes before opening the mould, then place on a wire rack and allow to cool.

It will keep out of the fridge under a glass bell for about 4 days, but I'm sure it will run out sooner! 😇😍

coffee cake recipe raisin wine pairing

Coffee cake: what wine to go with it?

This coffee cake is a very interesting dessert to match. If you have read my book "How to become a Sommelier", in chapter 8 dedicated to food and wine pairing I talk on page 386 about chocolate cakes. I know, I know, in this coffee cake there is no trace of chocolate, but the organoleptic characteristics are similar so I share this paragraph with you.

To enhance the aromaticity of the chocolate, we can choose a red raisin winean aromatised wine such as the barolo chinato, a Marsala, a Port Ruby or one Sherry depending on the other characteristics of the dessert to be matched. For example, if we have a dark chocolate spoon cake, and we are therefore talking about fatness, bitterness and aromaticity, I would go for a Ruby Port or a Sherry with a good alcoholic structure, a marked sweetness and an important and persistent aromaticity. If, on the other hand, we have a Sacher torte (my dad makes a great one!), we can pair it with a passito wine or, even better, an aromatised wine such as barolo chinato.

from How to become a Sommelier

Meanwhile, the cake is very coffee-scented and has a whole range of roasted aromas and a slight note of milk and butter. To the nose but also to the bite it tastes like cappuccino. The coffee balances the sweetness of the sugar. The texture is pleasant and just right moist, not at all stodgy. It melts in the mouth.

We know from this description that it is an aromatic cake, extremely balanced and not at all succulent. The characteristic on which we must focus the pairing is therefore aromaticity. If you have read this article on consulting the AIS food and wine pairing chart, you know that aromaticity stands for smoothness and sweetness. In my opinion, coffee - like cocoa - requires a red raisin wine to express itself at its best. So I thought of Nottambulo from Villa Acquaviva, a Tuscan winery that I am tasting these days and I must say that rarely has a pairing been more successful.

Coffee cake and Nottambulo Vino Passito di Villa Acquaviva

It is made from Sangiovese and Alicante grapes dried in the vineyard until the desired sugar content is reached. Alicante is a grape variety originating in Spain not to be confused with Sardinian alicante, because this alicante is synonymous with cannonau and grenache, while 'the other' alicante is actually alicante Bouschet. Historically, being well adapted in Maremma, it was traditionally used for the production of Morellino di Scansano. Today the Morellini more modern cut no longer use it. That's when I tasted this wine my first thought was that it is a wine that smells of the past and tradition. It is a beautiful ruby red colour with garnet reflections, semi-transparent and consistent. The nose has notes of dried fruit, resin, black mulberry jam and morello cherry under spirits. In the mouth it is soft, structured and all too pleasant. Try it with chocolate and 'stinky' cheeses.

See you soon with another little trip to Tuscany, specifically to Bolgheri.



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