Harvey Wallbanger cake

16 Jun

As my first post about baking, I’m going to talk about the Harvey Wallbanger cake that I made last week.  For those who don’t know, in the 1970’s there was a popular drink called a Harvey Wallbanger which was basically just a screwdriver with a bit of Galliano in it.  Galliano is an Italian liqueur which has a vanilla and anise flavor.  Therefore the cake has elements of orange, Vodka, and Galliano contained within.

Now, when I was a kid, my best friend’s mother used to make this cake sometimes.  It was always a treat to have, not because of the booze, but because it was so incredibly tasty.  It was a very moist sponge cake made in a Bundt pan with a sugary glaze on top.  It’s incredibly moist.  Well a few weeks ago, his father posted something about cake, and so of course my natural thought went toward Harvey Wallbanger cake.  I realized I probably hadn’t had one in ages, and that I should try to convince my friend’s mother to give me the recipe.  However, why wait until then when I could ask the internet, as someone probably has a recipe posted out there.

So, I asked Google, and boom, it had hundreds of results for me about the cake.  Of course, to my horror, the cake was incredibly easy, as every recipe required a box of yellow (or orange or lemon) cake mix and a package of instant pudding.  Now that I’m living in the UK, things like instant cake mixes and instant pudding mixes are pretty much non-existent.  There’s no way I would be able to find a cake mix, and the closest thing to instant pudding mix is instant custard mix.  I was a bit devastated, but searching a bit further in Google brought up one (and yes, only one) from scratch Harvey Wallbanger cake courtesy of King Arthur Flour.  Well that made me happy, as I was eager to try it to see how it compared.

So I rushed to the closest store with cooking equipment to find the Bundt cake pan I needed.  Now Bundt cake pans are quite interesting, as they are basically an American invention in order to allow immigrants from German areas of Europe to bake their bundkuchen.  The pan went from a bund pan to a bundt pan, and barely sold for a few years until someone won a baking competition using a bundt cake, and the pans pretty much became a staple in every American home.  Needless to say, there was no cake pan.  So I had to postpone my baking adventure for a few days.  Of course, that didn’t matter too much as the grocery store we went to next didn’t have the Galliano I needed for the cake.  When I got home, I managed to order the cake pan from amazon, and I found the Galliano at Sainsbury’s.

The pan finally arrived, and I managed to bake the cake and glaze it.

Harvey Wallbanger cake

Unfortunately, while it tasted nice, it was a bit drier than the cake I remembered.  I’m not sure if I just baked it for too long, or if it’s something to do with the cake mix and pudding mix that really just creates a moist cake.  The glaze was also a bit runny.  Either I added too much liquid to the confectioner’s sugar or the cake was too warm.  Interestingly, since a lot of the glaze pooled up at the bottom, it soaked into the cake and created a nice moist cake bottom.  So this gives me two ideas:  To take the cake out of the pan, poke with a bunch of holes, and pour the glaze on top in order to let it soak in a bit, or to poke holes while the cake is in the pan, and pour into the cake pan to let the glaze soak into the cake before removing from the pan, then add another layer of glaze.  I’ll have to try one of these the next time.  Also, it seemed a bit boozy, but vodka doesn’t add much flavor, so it seemed a bit bland as well.  Next time I think I’m going to only use the Galliano and see how the cake turns out.

It was a lot of fun though trying to find the ingredients, recipe, and cake pan in order to make a cake from my childhood.  I was really hoping it would be more like the cake I remembered, but honestly it was quite tasty and we did end up eating the whole thing.  While I was waiting, I did a lot of Google searches for bundt cake recipes, so I have a list of recipes to try out in the future!


Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Cake


Tags: , ,

2 responses to “Harvey Wallbanger cake

  1. Chris Grgs

    June 16, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    This cake sounds awesome. I’m surprized that you can’t find Cake Mixes and Pudding Mix in London… but I’ve only ever lived in the US suburbs, and mostly in Anchorage, Alaska. I remember being really frustrated in New Mexico when I realized there wasn’t a place like Fred Meyer where I could just go for anything I was used to needing. So I can relate… almost!

  2. Joanna Mangiante

    December 22, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    I remember helping my mother make this cake when I was a kid, and we always poked holes in it so the glaze would soak through. Although, it still seemed to pool at the bottom as well…. I might be tempted to try this again now as an adult!


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