Cantaloupe in Cake? You Bet!
I’ve enjoyed berries, peaches, plums and all manner of other fruit in baked treats.
Not until now.
Don’t get me wrong. I love that beautiful netted fruit with its sunny orange flesh. But cantaloupe in a cake seemed as farfetched to me as watermelon or honeydew in one.
That is until I spied a recipe for “Cantaloupe Cake (Torta di Melone)” in “Dolci: Italy’s Sweets” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), of which I received a review copy. The book is by Francine Segan, a food historian and New York City cookbook author. The cookbook boasts more than 125 recipes for Italian specialties such as sweet ricotta crepes, rosemary semifreddo, angel hair pasta pie, and even an unlikely chocolate eggplant dish.
I couldn’t let a chance to bake with cantaloupe pass by, so I gave it a whirl.
Besides its star ingredient, there are two other unusual points about this recipe, which has its origins in Piedmont, Italy. First, you bake the cake at 360 degrees. Yup, not 350 or 375, but 360. Second, the batter is as dry as the Mojave Desert — until you fold in the last ingredient, the cantaloupe chunks. In fact, as the other ingredients were whirling away in my mixer bowl, I had my doubts this cake would even come together, given what the batter looked like.
But keep the faith like I did, and you will be rewarded.
The cantaloupe chunks are macerated in Asti Spumante for half an hour before the fruit and only 2 tablespoons of the fizzy wine are added to the batter. You can discard the remaining Asti Spumante left in the bowl — or use it to make sangria, as it’s pretty tasty, even if it’s gone flat.
The cake bakes up really moist with a rustic crumb. The soaked melon imparts a sweet, floral, slightly musky quality to the cake, giving it a very Italian sensibility.
Take a bite, and you’ll never again think cantaloupe in cake an unlikely addition.
3 cups diced cantaloupe (Note: Be sure to wash the outside of the melon with soap and water before cutting into it)
2 cups Asti Spumante
Butter for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Combine the melon chunks and wine in a bowl, and let rest for at least 30 minutes to infuse the melon with the wine’s flavor.
Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a standard 12-cup Bundt pan.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until creamy and light yellow. Gradually, adding a little at a time, beat in the flour and baking powder until combined. Set the batter aside. It will look quite dry and powdery.
In a medium bowl, with clean and dry beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the whites into the batter until combined. Using a slotted spoon, add cantaloupe and about 2 tablespoons of the liquid to the batter and stir until just combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve at room temperature.
Adapted from “Dolci: Italy’s Sweets” by Francine Segan
More Recipes with Unusual Ingredients: Chinese-Style Stir-Fried Bagels with Cabbage and Bacon
And: Chinese Sausage Focaccia by Momofuku Milk Bar
And: Chinese Steamed Buns Made From Refrigerator Biscuit Dough
That is a cake I have never eaten. How original!
That’s so intriguing! I never thought about canteloupe in a cake, but why the heck not, right? I’m finding myself having to think a little out of the produce box a bit these days since starting a CSA subscription – have to figure out lots of ways to use lots of fruits and vegetables!
so glad you shared this
i would love to try this.
nice ripe cantaloupe is quite tasty–in anything!
I love the fragrance of cantaloupe. This sounds interesting. I bet the batter was so dry to make up for the super wet cantaloupes. Looking at the finished results, I’m thinking this is the Italian’s early version of fruit cake! LOL.
That is pretty unusual. So is the texture more like an exotic, moist apple cake?
I saw canteloupe used in a pasta sauce the other day, but I think putting it in a cake sounds better! And, the orange chunks look great in the cut pieces of cake.
All I can say is WOW! and I need that cake and the cookbook. I love to try anything different. I may have to whip this up over the weekend. My foodie friends will be mucho-impressed. 🙂
This is the first time I’ve seen or even heard of cantaloupe used in a cake. This is really interesting, Carolyn. I am totally intrigued and wanting to try this recipe. Thank you, and have a wonderful week, Carolyn! 🙂
~ ray ~
Oh wow, I’ve never seen cantaloupe in a cake! And it does look delicious. This might be another cake that I feel I must make from your site.. and I need to buy a bundt mold! Looks so delicious – wish I have a piece for me for my breakfast with tea.
Nami: A bundt pan is a wise investment. You’ll use it again and again. Plus, bundt cakes are far easier and faster to put together than layer cakes.
Will you be angry if I say I dislike canteloupe? But my husband is crazy about it and I’d love to offer a slice or two of this to him. The cake itself looks so fantastic and good… how about half canteloupe and half cherries for me?
this is definitely a first, carolyn! melon. in a cake. crazy, but you did an awesome job with it!
Jamie: You could never draw my ire. LOL I like that idea, too. Kind of like ordering a large pizza but with each half sporting a different topping. 😉
Intriguing! I usually enjoy cantaloupe as is. However, the finished cake looks so yummy, I think I’ll give the recipe a try. 🙂
I baked the cake today and it is really moist and delicious. My 10 years old son was completely surprised by how good the cake is. He was a little reluctant to try it and kept saying he should bake a “normal cake” instead.
Jane: So glad to hear that you AND your son loved the cantaloupe cake so much. It’s a surprising recipe, isn’t it? One taste will convince you it’s a keeper.
This is so exciting! Why didn’t I ever think to bake a cake with cantelope that I love so much. It’s brilliant! I printed this off and plan to try the recipe this weekend.
I honestly never think about baking with melons – this looks like SUCH a wonderful treat!
OK, it’s in the oven now. Given the weird texture, I’m wondering if some oil or butter were missing from the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Those plus flour and baking powder really were like powder, and all the air went out of the egg whites when I folded them in. I’m very curious as to what this will turn out like… Will update when it’s out of the oven.
Nadine: I just checked the cookbook and that is indeed the correct amount of sugar. So, you should be fine. Let me know how you enjoy the cake. Happy baking!