mascarpone cake with red wine prunes

We’re back with another recipe from our gal Claire Saffitz! We are still trying to bake the whole book in order as much as possible, but there will be times when seasonal ingredients aren’t available and we’ll need to make shifts. The fifth recipe in Dessert Person is the Spiced Persimmon Loaf, however at this time of year in Ontario persimmons are impossible to find (we’ll come back to this one at the end of the year). That means our next bake from the Loaf Cakes and Single Layer Cakes section of the book was this incredible Mascarpone Cake with Red Wine Prunes.

Lauren’s Take

Recipe #5! Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a sucker for dairy—and dairy in dessert?! Sign me up. So when I saw that this cake had mascarpone in it, you could say I was a little pumped. And then you read that there’s not only dairy in it but wine too? Geez, that Claire is an actual genius. This cake would be the perfect thing to bring to a dinner party to impress people with your sophistication, so keep that in mind.

The ingredients of this cake were a bit more specialized than any of the previous recipes and definitely included things that most people wouldn’t always have in their fridge/pantry, but nothing was too expensive or hard to find in my case.

There were two main aspects to this cake: the red wine prunes and the mascarpone cake. I decided to make the prunes the day before and reserve the syrup for later (as Claire outlines in the book). I learned one very important thing from this endeavour—there is a difference between syrup and jam and a very fine line in-between. I definitely left the prune mixture reducing for too long because I was left with prunes in jam, which are still delish but do not allow you to drizzle the cake in syrup as intended. Instead, I had jammy prunes that I put on the side!

The other issue with over-reducing the prunes was they had more of a bitter taste, so when taking a bite of my cake, I was hit with a bitter wine taste that was not terrible, but also not the most enjoyable. I also may just not really like the taste of prunes which is a definite possibility.

Other than my prune failure, the cake itself is absolutely amazing. It has a bit of tanginess from the lemon, and is so moist and creamy from the whipped eggs and mascarpone. I feel like you could substitute any fruit into this cake and it would be an incredible dessert.

All that being said, I’d give this cake 3 stars—but I may need to make it again and make actual syrup before I can give it a complete rating.

Julia’s Take

Happy Sunday everyone! I think Lauren and I had slightly different experiences with and feelings about this particular recipe, but I have to say it may be my favourite bake so far (a very close tie with the now infamous Poppy Seed Almond Cake!). I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of prune-flavoured things, and really dislike prune juice, but I thought the prunes did work really well in this recipe.

The prunes were cooked down for about 45 minutes in a blend of red wine, sugar, and warming spices (I used cinnamon sticks and star anise) which gave them a soft, chewy texture and also created a really incredible syrupy sauce. The next time I make this recipe, I will 100% be tripling the amount of sauce because it was SO GOOD. I would put it on anything.


The cake itself was really easy to make. There isn’t a lot of flour (only 1 cup) and so it comes together with mostly wet ingredients—the mascarpone, egg yolks, vanilla, and sugar. There isn’t a really distinct flavour to the cake itself, but it was super soft with an awesome crust around the outside. You end up with a really thick batter and when you smooth it into the pan, it looks like you’re going to end up with a really thin cake, but once you place the prunes on top and let it bake, you get a lot of lift and the batter bubbles up and bakes nicely around the prunes. You’re then left with the bomb red wine sauce to drizzle on top of the cake when serving. Have I mentioned how much I loved this sauce?!

Most of this cake went to my neighbours, who are also big bakers and foodies. They are my winter angels; my tiny shovel and I would barely survive through the mountains of snow that we get if it weren’t for their help. After a week of warm temperatures and feeling like spring is now around the corner, this cake was the perfect way to thank them. It was a major hit!

This was one of those cakes that actually got better the longer it sat out. I definitely plan on making this one again; the mulled wine vibes were so awesome and I think it would make a great dessert for a holiday party (one day soon hopefully when parties are a thing again!). It’s a 5-star rating from me!

Thanks so much to everyone who is following along! Five bakes down, and 100 recipes to go. Next week we’ll be making the Pear and Chestnut Cake. See you then!


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