Who knew there was such a crying need for this? I just got this email: “I’m writing to ask if you know of any recipes for Amaretto cake or Harvey Wallbanger Cake that don’t require a cake mix. I'm a from-scratch baker and I’m looking desperately for one! If you can help, that’d be great!! Thanks, Chavi Samet, Israel. So I promptly googled Harvey Wallbanger scratch cake and found no less then ten plaintive cries for a real, honest-to-Pete cake recipe that didn’t start with a box mix.

As luck would have it, I just finished testing the yellow cake recipe for our new Guaranteed Classics recipes (PJ hinted at this in her birthday cake piece last week). Lo and behold, a quick peek told me that it should do the trick for Harvey with no trouble. Off I went.

Here's the recipe:

Harvey Wallbanger from Scratch
Cake
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 ounces) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons (1 1/8 ounces) cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup (6 ounces) orange juice
1/4 cup (2 ounces) Galliano
1/4 cup (2 ounces) vodka
1 tablespoon orange zest
Glaze
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon Galliano
1 teaspoon vodka

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-cup Bundt® pan.

Before we get started, here's a hint: any cake recipe works best if the butter, liquid and eggs are all at room temperature before they’re combined. Putting cold eggs into soft butter equals a curdled mess. To bring everything to room temperature right out of the frige, place the eggs in a bowl, and cover with the warmest tap water you can run over your hand. Let them sit while you measure out the dry ingredients and you’ll be all set.

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You can also do this with sticks of butter, still in their wrappers, in lukewarm water. It really works. Just pat the sticks dry with a paper towel before you unwrap them and put them in the mixing bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, butter and salt until fluffy. Beat in the oil, then the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg completely disappears before adding the next one.

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This is what the butter, sugar, and oil look like after creaming.

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After the third egg joins the party, the mixture looks like this.

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Time to measure out the hooch. In a measuring cup, stir together the orange juice, Galliano, vodka, and orange zest. If everything’s cold, warm it for 30 seconds in the microwave. The flour, cornstarch, and baking powder are already whisked together and on standby.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture to the mixing bowl, mixing until it disappears. Scrape the mixing bowl.

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This sounds tedious, but it’s the difference between a good cake and a streaky could-have-been. Ever get a cake all mixed up, go to pour the batter in the pan, and find a pool of butter and sugar still hanging out on the bottom of the bowl? I thought so. Get out the scraper.

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I'm adding a tablespoon of fresh orange zest for a little flavor boost. Now half the liquid goes in. After it's combined, add another third of the dry, the rest of the wet, mix, scrape, add the last of the dry ingredients and beat until the batter is smooth with one last scrape down for good measure. Now transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and smooth out the top.

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The back of a tablespoon works well to smooth out the top of the cake.

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Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes (don't let it go too long, or it will get dry). The top will bounce back when you touch it lightly with your finger, and a tester or toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it in its pan for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, use a dull knife or pointed icing spatula to loosen the cake from the edge of the pan.

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Teasing the cake away from the ridges in the center is a little "insurance policy" for getting it to release evenly.

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Put a plate on top of the pan. Turn everything over and let it sit for a moment.

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Pick up the edge of the pan and jiggle it a bit. You’ll feel the cake fall out. Carefully lift the pan straight up off the cake.

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Voila. And phew.

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For the glaze, whisk the orange juice (I like to use fresh squeezed for this) and the hooch together until smooth. The glaze will seem a little thick, but that’s how it should be.

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Drizzle it over the cake while it’s still lukewarm. The heat from the cake will help the glaze travel over the cake and make a nice, smooth finish.

I put this cake out for tasting, and it was pretty funny to hear the comments. A LOT of our coworkers got an instant taste trip down memory lane. “Oh, Harvey Wallbangers, I used to love them! What was in them anyway?”
The cake was a big hit. I hope all of those folks on the lookout for a scratch version of this classic come and find us. In any case, it’s a good excuse to fire up the Sinatra records and stir things up a little bit!

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Susan Reid
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About Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.

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