Champagne Cake with Champagne Italian Meringue Buttercream

Champagne Cake with Strawberry and Champagne Italian Meringue Buttercream.

This delicate, moist Champagne Cake is packed with flavor, filled with strawberries, & iced with Champagne Italian Meringue Buttercream. It’s the perfect celebration cake.

Last weekend I receive an email with the following request…

“Good morning.  I am looking for a recipe that is as good as your Best Vanilla Cake recipe but for a wedding.  The bride would like a (NOT PINK) champagne cake. Your vanilla cake is perfection.  How could I modify it to be a champagne cake?  Thank you!  PS  – I have tried the Martha Stewart champagne cake, but it was not nearly as good as your vanilla cake.  So, searching the internet is not overly helpful.  Thank you for any time and attention you may have to give this matter.”

Like an unexpected gift, I suddenly had the perfect excuse to bake Champagne Cake.

Champagne Cake with Champagne Italian Meringue Buttercream

I shut myself in the kitchen all Sunday afternoon baking champagne cake after champagne cake until I had achieved a supremely moist, tender cake laced with the delicate flavor of champagne. My family couldn’t stop eating it. Always a good sign.

To frost and fill the cake, I made one and a half recipes of Italian Meringue Buttercream, flavoring the buttercream with a champagne reduction. Then, I removed about 1/3 of the buttercream and added 1/2 cup of pureed strawberries.

I LOVE the flavor combination of strawberry and champagne. However, the strawberry does mute the champagne flavor in the cake a bit. So, if you’re wanting a stronger champagne flavor, I’d suggest sticking with Champagne Buttercream for both the filling and frosting.

Champagne Cake Recipe Notes

I tested this champagne cake recipe with both sweet and dry champagne. Both are delicious, however the sweeter champagne did contribute a bit more champagne flavor to the cake.

I also played around with how much champagne to add to the recipe. One of the things that makes this Vanilla Cake so yummy is the inclusion of buttermilk, which adds both flavor and moisture to the cake. I wanted to include those qualities in this recipe, while also adding enough champagne so you could actually taste it.

I baked two cakes side by side, one with all champagne, and one with half champagne and half buttermilk. Just like with the vanilla cake, the buttermilk made a huge difference in the consistency of the cake, creating a super moist, tender crumb.

The crumb of the all champagne cake was also moist and tender, but not as much. And honestly, there wasn’t much of a difference in flavor between the two versions. So, half buttermilk and half champagne is the way to go.

If you’ve never made Italian Meringue Buttercream, this cake is the perfect excuse.

Champagne Cake with Champagne Italian Meringue Buttercream

I receive comments and emails almost every week that go something like this…

“I’m not sure I’ll ever make another frosting type after this! The salted caramel version is delicious, but I am so impressed with the results of the Italian meringue! Fluffy yet stable, with a super creamy texture and amazing flavor.”

This is EXACTLY how I felt the first time I made a batch of Italian Meringue Buttercream almost 20 years ago, and I’ve rarely iced a cake with anything else since. Even those of you (myself included) who typically don’t like frosting, will love this buttercream. It’s the bomb diggity.

Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with good, old fashioned American Buttercream, which only takes about 5 minutes to make and is silky smooth and flavorful thanks to the additions of butter and heavy cream.

Frequently Asked Reader Questions:

Q: Are the layers of this cake firm enough to be stacked into a 3 tier cake?

A: Absolutely! This crumb of this cake is soft but also sturdy and will hold up well – IF the tiers are properly supported with dowel rods. 

Q: I see the you live at a higher altitude than me. Do I need to make any adjustments for baking at low altitude?

A: No adjustment necessary. I’ve heard from readers from all over the world who have baked this cake in all different climates and had success.

Q: What is the proper way to store this cake since it has Buttercream frosting?

A: If the cake is frosted, store it in the refrigerator – no need to cover it. If the cake layers are unfrosted, wrap them in plastic wrap and store them at room temperature, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Q: Does it matter if I use salted or unsalted butter to make this cake?

A: Contrary to most recipes (and bakers), I almost always use salted butter in baked goods. The reason most recipes call for unsalted butter is to limit the amount of salt in a recipe. However, I believe that most sweet treats benefit from the additional salt, and the salted butter adds such a minimal amount, it’s rarely detected anyway. But, ultimately, this is a matter of taste. Therefore, most of my recipes just say “butter”, leaving it up to the baker to decide. There are a few place where I specify unsalted butter – such as in Italian Meringue Buttercream – because it really does make the buttercream too salty. So – to answer your question: Use whatever butter you have on hand for the cake, salted or unsalted. 🙂 For the buttercream, definitely use unsalted. 

Q: Can I use this recipe for cupcakes? What temp and how long? How many cupcakes will the recipe make?

A: Yes! Bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees for 15 – 18  minutes. This recipe will make 24 cupcakes. 

Q: How strong is the champagne taste?

A: The champagne flavor is subtle – you can absolutely taste it, but it’s not very strong. To intensify the flavor, I suggest following the option in the recipe for boiling 2 or 3 cups of champagne in a saucepan until reduced by at least half. Brush the tops of the cooled cake layers with the champagne reduction.

Q: Can I use frozen strawberries or should I stick with fresh?

A: Frozen will work just fine, however, I would suggest pureeing a few extra frozen strawberries and then straining the puree slightly before adding it to the buttercream. Frozen strawberries tend to produce a runnier puree than fresh. Straining them a bit will ensure you get a good strawberry flavor in the buttercream without making the buttercream too soft.

Q: What is a good champagne to use?

A: I like to use Korbel – their blanc de noirs is great because it’s on the sweet side with good flavor and generally pretty affordable. Sweeter is better with this cake because the champagne flavor is more pronounced than when using a dryer champagne.

Q: I’d like to make an almond flavored version of this cake. Do you think I can substitute the champagne for Disaronno or almond extract in both the cake and the icing?

A: I think using Disaronno and almond extract in this cake would be delicious. Here’s what I’d suggest: swap out the champagne for the disoranno and the vanilla for the almond extract, using the same amounts of each. Then, taste the cake (after it’s cooled) to decide if you’d like a stronger almond flavor. If you do, simply brush more disoranno over the top of the cake, letting it soak in. To add disoranno to the icing, you won’t need to reduce it on the stovetop, like I suggest for the champagne. Simply beat it in, bit by bit, tasting and paying attention to the icing consistency until you get the flavor to the level of almond that you want. The goal is to get a strong enough almond flavor without adding so much that the icing gets too runny. Adding it a little at a time will allow you that level of control. You could also add a teaspoon or two of almond extract to the icing if you wanted to boost the almond flavor even more.

Q: I sometimes have issues with with the middle of cakes sinking after removing them from the oven. Any tips for me as to how to avoid this?

A: Here are a couple of trouble shooting ideas: 1.) Baking powder loses its leavening power if it’s more than 6 months old. 2.) Over beating once you add the flour. 3.) An inaccurate oven temperature (most oven temperatures are off slightly, so it can be helpful to use an oven thermometer to check it.) 4.) If the cake batter sits out too long before you bake it, that can cause the leavening to loose its power, causing the cake to sink after you remove it from the oven.

Q: If using four 8-inch pans, how much batter should I add to each pan?

A: To use four 8-inch pans, just distribute the batter equally amongst each pan, which will probably mean that each pan is about 1/4 to 1/3 full, depending on how high the sides of your cake pans are.

Q: Could you provide this in metric measurements?

A: 300 grams of butter
475 grams of sugar
420 grams of flour
8 grams of baking powder
2 grams baking soda
9 grams of salt
4 oz (120 ml) champagne
4 oz (120 ml) buttermilk
5 ml vanilla

Useful Tools for Cake Decorating: 

  • Offset Icing Spatula
  • Disposable Decorating Bags
  • Extra Large Cake Decorating Tips
  • Cake Decorating Turn Table 
  • Cake Scraper/ Smoother Set

More Favorite layer cake recipes:

  • The Most Flavorful Vanilla Cake
  • Gluten Free Vanilla Layer Cake
  • Funfetti Cake
  • Lemon Layer Cake with Blackberry Italian Meringue Buttercream
  • Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream and Caramel Rum Sauce
  • Chocolate Blackout Cake
  • Black Forest Cake
  • German Chocolate Cake
  • Classic Red Velvet Cake
  • Perfect Devil’s Food Cake
  • Perfect Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
  • Caramel Cake with Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream
  • Gluten Free Caramel Cake

If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #ofbatteranddough on Instagram.

Happy baking!


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