A pink champagne cake is a light, fluffy cake with a misnomer for a name. Despite the long-lived popularity of the dessert, only a few recipes call for pink or rose champagne to be included in the batter. Instead, the name most likely comes from the tradition of frosting the cake a cheery pink, and its frequent association with being served at holiday parties. Some recipes also contain a small amount of sparkling wine, though traditional champagne isn’t a necessary addition.
Pink champagne cake recipes vary, but most consist of a white layer cake filled with cream. The filling most often is rum-flavored or traditional Bavarian cream, giving the cake a dense, rich flavor. The predominant flavors in the cake are rum and vanilla, though some recipes call for chocolate shavings to be added to the top as decoration.
The frosting on a pink champagne cake is typically a simple buttercream, dyed pink with a few drops of red food coloring. Many bakeries choose to cover the frosted cake in pink or chocolate curls, made from hardened or thickened frosting, dyed chocolate, or coconut.
Pink champagne cakes have become popular at specific types of celebrations. As the cake is considered particularly feminine, it is frequently found at wedding and baby showers and bachelorette parties. The sweet pink color of the frosting also makes the cake popular as a Valentine's Day dessert, while its association with champagne makes it appropriate for New Year's festivities.
A pink champagne cake is not the easiest recipe for the novice baker. The complexity of the wine-filled batter, Bavarian cream and frosting can easily overwhelm a relatively new pastry chef. Possibly because of this, pink champagne cakes are often a specialty of professional cake and pastry shops. While experimenting with this difficult recipe is certainly worthwhile, to ensure a perfectly decorated and flavored cake for an upcoming celebration, many consider it wise to let a professional do the dirty work, so you can sit back and enjoy this delicious cake without destroying your kitchen.