Raspberry Pinot Noir Cake

I have the huge blessing of living in a rural agricultural community that is known for its incredible Pinot Noir.  Just beyond my home in any direction are numerous small vineyards and wineries that hand craft lovely wines  characteristic of our region . Two friends of mine, Brad and Kathleen McLeroy of Ayers Vineyard, (who also happen to have children in classes with each of my children!) pour their hearts into making fabulous Pinot Noir.  For quite some time now I have wanted to try making a cake with a Pinot Noir and since I had an amazing bottle of the Ayers Perspective Pinot Noir on hand I decided to dive in and give it a go!


I had seen several recipes for cake that included Pinot Noir but they all were chocolate and I felt it would mask too much of the flavor of the wine.  At the same time, I thought perhaps it was necessary to mask the flavor of the wine and that was why everyone was covering it up.A-lay2web

Then I came across the most beautiful Raspberry Pinot Noir Sorbet recipe in Tom Douglas’s Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. The sorbet used a syrup made from sugar, raspberries and an Oregon Pinot.  I decided to make my own version of his raspberry pinot syrup to infuse my prospective cake.  What I discovered was that it made the most incredible raspberry syrup I have ever tasted! It was tart and full flavored and not too sweet. The wine notes were not overbearing but added a complexity that rounded out the flavor of the fruit.A-double-raspwebI used a portion of this delicious syrup in the cake and buttercream filling. I also added an additional amount of wine to the cake batter to increase its notability. The resulting cake is moist, light and full of raspberry flavor with a hint of the warmth of the Pinot Noir lingering in the background. This is the kind of cake you just can’t stop eating because you capture a different and wonderful taste with every bite.A-all-threeweb

If you voted on Facebook for my birthday cake flavor, this one came in a close second to White Mocha, so I decided to make them both. Two birthday cakes are always better than one right!? I will have White Mocha Cake up though soon for all of you White Mocha voters 🙂

Be sure to try this cake out. It is a real treat and worthy of the best birthday fare!

Happy Baking!

Raspberry Pinot Noir Cake


    For the Raspberry Sauce:
  • 7 ounces (198 grams) granulated sugar-1 cup
  • 8 fluid ounces good quality Pinot Noir
  • 12 ounces raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • For the cake:
  • 14 ounces (397 grams) granulated sugar-2 cups
  • 5 ounces (142 grams) vegetable oil- 2/3 cup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon (3 milliliters) raspberry extract
  • 14 ounces (397 grams) all-purpose/plain flour-2 ¾ cup
  • ¾ teaspoon (4 milliliters) salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (8 milliliters) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) baking soda
  • 4 fluid ounces (120 milliliters) buttermilk-½ cup
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) sour cream- ½ cup
  • 2 fluid ounces (60 milliliters) good quality Pinot Noir
  • 8 fluid ounces (240 milliliters) raspberry syrup (from above recipe)
  • 3-4 drops red food coloring (optional)


    For the sauce:
  1. Combine the sugar, wine and berries in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Press through a medium fine strainer or food mill. Some seeds are okay if you don’t mind them. Cool to room temperature. Save one cup for the cake recipe. The remaining amount can be added to buttercream or served alongside the cake.
  2. For the cake:
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C). Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans. Beat sugar, oil and eggs and flavorings for 1 min on medium speed of stand mixer. Sprinkle in flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Start mixer on low to blend to moisten, then increase speed and beat for 2 minutes. Meanwhile whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream and Pinot Noir. When the beating is done turn the mixer to low and gradually add buttermilk mixture. Fold in raspberry syrup and food coloring if using. Pour into the three pans evenly and bake for 28-32 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes and then turn out onto wire racks to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill if not using immediately. Frost with buttercream or icing of your choice. Enjoy!

65 thoughts on “Raspberry Pinot Noir Cake”

  1. I love your blog! As a recent follower, I have to let you know I look forward to every post! Especially all the science and the “why’s” of how you do things. Thanks….can’t wait for the next one!

  2. We were the lucky ones who devoured this cake last weekend! The layers of flavors are unlike ANY cake I have ever enjoyed. The Pinot Noir flavor really shines through in partnership with the raspberry notes. This will for sure be a featured Harvest dessert around here! Thank you, Summer, for showcasing our wine in such a delicious and creative way!! Your talents are beyond words . . .

  3. I recently found your blog thanks to Shawna from Mcgreevy Cakes and I’m just in love! I just tried the classic white cake with the silky buttercream and it was amazing! I am super dee duper excited to try this baby!

  4. Hi Summer,
    What do you think about a different varietal of wine? My friends have just made a Syrah and a Cabernet Sauvignon and I would love to try to use their wine. Loving your blog. Jill

    1. Hi Jill! I think either would be great. Have a glass of each and see which has the best berry notes ;). How fabulous you can use friends’ wine! I love knowing the source. Let me know how it goes 🙂

  5. Hi Summer,
    You really have a passion for cakes & such generosity to share it with us! Your cakes are always scrumptious & your photo skills are to die for! Quick question: where do I get Raspberry extract? Can I substitute with anything else if I don’t have?

    1. Hi Rossa, Thank you! I use Silver Cloud Estates Raspberry Extract. It is a natural flavor blend and works well. If your local store has another brand of extract in raspberry flavor that should work well too. Sometimes I can find it at grocery stores and other times not. Silver Cloud Estates products are usually sold at specialty stores or you can follow the Amazon link above. 🙂

  6. Hi Summer, I really want to make this this weekend for someone’s birthday. I went to 3 stores and could not find raspberry extract. Do you think I could use some freeze dried raspberry powder in its place or is it worth making the cake without the extract?


    1. I think it would be great with the freeze dried powder or you could take the time to reduce some raspberry juice as well. It would be worth it without the extract but I think the powder or reduction will help boost the raspberry flavor 🙂 Best of luck!

      1. Thanks! I have the freeze dried raspberries so I might try that, you think a couple of teaspoons? should I reduce anything?

  7. You rock and I know it! This just might be the recipe I’ve been waiting for and I fully intend to try it very soon. After all these graduation cake orders are filled and I buy some wine, I’ll try it. Thanks for posting this one and I miss you 😉

  8. This looks amazing! I think I might try it for my birthday this weekend. How do you think it would pair with a white chocolate buttercream?

  9. Hi Summer! I have just found and have been reading your blog for about and hour now. I LOVE all of your posts! Thank you for marrying science and baking, it makes SO much sense to me! I just had a question about this recipe, I actually don’t drink wine or alcohol, but this recipe looks so delicious and I want to try it so badly! Is there a variation on this recipe that doesn’t include wine? (Perhaps could I substitute with grape juice?) Or another question would be: when you bake with wine, does the alcohol cook out in the oven so the finished cake is non-alcoholic? Over all, having a non-alcoholic cake but retaining the same flavors as a final result would be what I’m going for here. 🙂

    1. Hi Ashley, I am so glad you are finding useful information! I have done extensive research on baking with alcohol and the truth is that it does not all bake out. If you want a truly non-alcoholic cake you need to use non-alcoholic ingredients. I think grape juice would work well but I would dilute it with half water (to cut the sugar) and add 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar to compensate for the acidity found in the wine. You won’t have exactly the same nuances as with the red wine but the cake will be delicious and it will be safe for those that need to or choose to steer clear from all alcohol. Best of luck! 🙂

      1. Thank you so much Summer! That is all so good to know. I am beyond excited to try it out!!! Thank you again so much!!

  10. Hi Summer. I made this cake for my dad’s 70th birthday and EVERYBODY loved it! The raspberry sauce is to die for and the cake beautifully moist. I actually thickened a batch of raspberry sauce slightly with a little corn flour to use between the layers as my family aren’t fans of buttercream. I can’t say I noticed the Pinot Noir particularly but cannot deny that the flavour of this cake was amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes, I’m making your latest chocolate cake next. Xxx

    1. Oh, I am so happy! I am glad that I could help make your dad’s 70th birthday special. And I hope you enjoy the chocolate! 🙂

  11. Hi Summer. I am thinking making this cake for a dessert auction. I was wondering if this cake could be covered with fondant to decorate. If so, would you recommend the SMBC underneath the fondant or a white chocolate ganache?

    1. Hi Susan, Sorry for the delay to respond. I tried to get back to you several days ago but my response wouldn’t post. 🙁 This cake will do well under fondant. I would use SMBC so you don’t overwhelm any of the subtle flavors with the sweetness of white chocolate ganache. Best of luck! 🙂

  12. Dear Summer, this is an amazing cake, I made it already 3 times, even as a wedding cake with white chocolate ganache, everyone on the wedding was saying they never eat more delicious cake! Thank u for this recipe! I even made from remaining raspberry sirup beautiful sorbet and also served it hot with pieces of raspberries along with nougat ice cream 🙂 So big thank you again!

    1. Thank you Eva! I really love this cake as well. It has such a complex unique flavor. I am happy for your success with it!

      1. Hi Summer,

        Was wondering how much of the raspberry sauce would I add to the buttercream if I opted to do that? Thanks!

        1. You can probably add up to 1/2 cup. Start with 1/4 cup and check the flavor and consistency of the buttercream. If the texture is fine, keep adding a tablespoon at a time until the flavor is where you want it. 🙂

          1. Thank you for the quick response! That definitely helps. I baked the cake today and it’s very delicious!! The sauce is amazing! Highly recommend this one! One more question though. My cake came out more of a grayish purple color rather than the pinkish hue showing in your picture. Should I have used a more concentrated red like Americolor? I just used regualr food coloring. Thanks again for your help!! :))

          2. I used a liquid food coloring that was double concentrated. It may work better to use Americolor or another paste that will retain color through the baking process.

  13. Hi Sumner, hope you’re well. I was wondering if I could use strawberries instead of raspberries, and non alcoholic as it is for a child’s birthday. Thank you so much for sharing your exquisite recipes, I have enjoyed every single one that I’ve tried. Blessings to you.

    1. Yes, strawberries should work fine. Just crush them as they cook. I would use grape juice or Apple cider to replace the wine, but in a pinch water will work. Good luck!

  14. HI Summer, I plan to make this as a 6″ double barrel cake next week. I usually stick with your suggested pans. Think I’ll be ok? Would you recommend using a parchment collar in the pans, since you know how it rises? Ahh- the white mocha cake my absolute favorite cake!

  15. Hi everyone, I just made this delicious cake- it is so good. I kept holding off on making it- unsure of what the taste would be, but finally jumped in. Its fantastic. Several suggestions and observations: The cake will not be pink no matter what you try- unless you really unload on the food coloring I guess. I used some strong red food coloring and wilton no taste red ( all out of Americolor red). It’s a mauve color cake, I’d say. Adding the preserves to the buttercream takes it to the next level! A must. However, know that your buttercream will be pink, not like the picture I made SMBC. BIG Suggestion: reduce your preserves until almost all of the liquid is gone- about 45 min for me. Then put through a food mill- putting through a sieve killed my wrists and took forever. Food Mill- ( go buy one now- best purchase ever) took 2 minutes. By reducing it, you won’t have an issue with your buttercream getting too liquidy. Enjoy- go make it, another great one Summer. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. Hi Pam. Thank you for posting your suggestions! When you say “adding the preserves to the buttercream takes it to the next level” do you mean the raspberry sauce? Same later when you suggest to reduce the preserves….as in the sauce?

      Also, Summer can you provide a recipe for the white chocolate ganache, with recommendation for the type of white chocolate to use? I know it’s just chocolate and cream but do you add vanilla extract or anything else to your ganache?

      1. Hi Lynne! I believe Pam meant the syrup but I will let her comment as well. 😉
        For white chocolate ganache, I would start with a 3 part chocolate to 1 part cream. You can warm this ganache after it has set or add more liquid to soften the mixture so I like to err on the firm side. Bring your cream to a boil, toss in your chopped chocolate, cover for 5 minutes and then whisk until smooth.
        You can add vanilla or vanilla bean paste if you like but it’s up to you. You can also use sour cream in place of the cream (i like to use 3/4 sour cream and 1/4 milk for consistency sake), which helps cut the sweetness of the white chocolate. Any white chocolate will work. Just keep in mind that the properties of the chocolate will translate, so pick one that is smooth and suits your palate. Let me know if you have more questions!

        1. Great! Thank you so much Summer. I like the idea of cutting the sweetness of the white chocolate with sour cream but how does that work for heating? I know with cream you heat just until bubbles start to form on the edges so am unsure how to know when the sour cream is hot enough….oh I just read to add MILK to it. So heat as per the cream then add to the chocolate?

          I’m getting excited to try this recipe! It will be the top 4″ and 6″ tiers of a 3 tier cake I am making for a student defending his PhD so I also needed something that would be sturdy enough under fondant. On that point, would using the sour cream make the ganache less sturdy than with cream? The cakes are getting alot of modelling chocolate detail work on the sides so I need something rock solid!

          1. With the milk added you will be fine hearing it like you would cream. The consistency will be similar to that made with cream and will hold up to beefy decorations. Just be sure to cool it slowly at room temperature so that the fats recrystallize properly. Once set, you can store it in the refrigerator if needed.

  16. One more question (ok maybe 2). How long will this cake stay fresh? I have a tiered cake due Friday of next week so was going to bake this weekend then work on it during the week. But is that too long?

    Also, would adding a raspberry simple syrup be too much you think?

    Ok, one more 🙂 I need to read through the comments but would this cake stand up to fondant and stacking?

    Dang, last one…sorry! I want to bake this as 2 6″ and 2 4″ cakes, each will be torted and filled to make the top 2 tiers of the cake. Does this recipe translate well into smaller cakes?

    1. You should have 3 days at room or a week refrigerated. I would freeze the cake for any longer than that. I don’t think you need the simple syrup but I don’t think it would hurt anything either. It’s your call. This cake will do well stacking and covering and also should work fine for small cakes, although you may need to level them a bit. Best wishes for your baking!

  17. Thank you so much (again) Summer! Your sour cream vanilla cake has been featured at my work place many a time and people always go bonkers for it. So I have very high hopes for this recipe. No pressure 😉

  18. Can you believe I thought of another question? This will definitely be the last since baking time is in 2 days! This recipe produces 3 8″ cakes. I want to do 2 layers of 4″ and 2 layers of 6′. I tort my layers so want full 2″ heights. I calculated that halving the recipe (ok more like 40% less) will produce the amount of batter that I need. What do you think?

    1. Hi! So sorry I didn’t get back to you right away. My son’s birthday was Wednesday and life got busy. I think you will be in good shape using 40% less, but I would make 3/4 of the batter to give yourself a little extra volume for torting. I hope this catches you in time but even at 60% you should be good. Enjoy your baking! Hugs

      1. Perfect timing! Making my list of ingredients to pick up for baking tomorrow. Pumped to taste this cake as are my lucky coworkers. Thanks Summer!

  19. Hello again Summer. I baked up the cakes and was so glad to follow your advice to do 75% of the recipe for 2 6″ and 2 4″ cakes. Perfect! My problem is with my buttercream which I am trying frantically to bring back to life right now. I made your Swiss meringue buttercream. I added the raspberry syrup to it yesterday and it looked great. Today, not so much. Soupy mess! I tried chilling for 20 minutes, no go. I tried microwaving 1 cup of it for 10 seconds, still no go. Any ideas? Maybe I added too much of the syrup? I made your recipe but let it reduce down to 10 ounces, 6 of which went into the batter and the other 4 oz into the buttercream. Whipping as I type so fingers crossed!

    1. Oh no! I hope it came together. I have found that rebeating swiss meringue at too cold a temperature can really cause separation and breakdown of the emulsion. Beating very high, with the buttercream at room temperature usung the wire beater attachment, helps. Let it beat for minutes of needed. You can always add a bit more butter too which is your emulsifying agent. Add the butter in tablespoon increments while the buttercream is beating at as high a speed as you can go without it splattering all over. A little xanthan gum (1/4-1/2 teaspoon) can help hold the emulsion also if you have access to it. I know how incredibly frustrating and frightening it is when buttercream does weird things and you’re on a tight cake timeline! Let me know how things went.

      1. Hi Summer. It DID come together but I was really sweating it. I’ve had SMB “curdle” before, but this was something else. I heated some on high in the micro for 10 seconds. Didn’t work. Did that 3X then just let my Kitchenaid go on medium high. Finally I heard the “wack wack” sound that proper SMB does. I filled my cakes which are now chilled, ready for trimming and crumb coat/fondant. Now I worry when I let the cakes come up to room temperature for serving. The raspberry pinot SMB won’t go to mush again, right?

  20. Hi Summer. Glad to report the cakes were perfect! I was REALLY worried when I stacked the 6″ on top of my 8″ (chocolate salted caramel) and pressed down a bit to level it out. One side kind of bulged out :O :O :O All the worry was for naught because both tiers were fine when I cut them today. The crowd of 30 ish all really loved this recipe so it is going in my “repertoire” of cake recipes, along with your Sour Cream Vanilla cake. Thanks again!

  21. Wow, this is such a great twist on a traditional velvet cake! I’ll be trying this very soon.
    Do you think it would be OK to up the wine in the batter a little? I’d like a pronounced boozy taste… or would that mess up the structure?


    1. Hi Anne! I think you would be fine replacing the buttermilk in the batter with wine. Structure is never totally predictable, but an acidic liquid for acidic liquid is usually an equitable exchange. I hope you like this cake. It remains one of my all-time favorites.

      1. Thanks! I also thought of maybe adding a splash of white chocolate liqueur to the filling… I love boozy cakes! I’ll let you know how it turns out 🙂

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