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Mar 14, 2013 05:46 PM

Can one make a HarveyWallbanger-esque cake sans alcohol?

My teetotalling aunt has asked for a Harvey Wallbanger cake for her 82nd birthday; she says she had it once at the birthday party of one of the children in the extended family. I'm pretty certain there was no alcohol in the child's birthday cake. My aunt loves orange flavours in baking, so I guess that's what she remembers about the cake.

So I've been looking for a way to make a Harvey Wallbanger-like cake but without the Galliano and vodka. I imagine that the Galliano has a particular effect on the flavour, but I just don't want to buy a whole bottle of the stuff to make a cake (cuz I won't drink the sugary, syrupy stuff), and I think my aunt won't want a booze-ridden cake.

_I_ like licorice-y/anise-y flavours in things. I've seen licorice extract suggested as a substitute for Galliano, but that seems rather simplistic. Could I grind some aniseed and star anise and add it, along with vanilla, to the cake batter? If I do that, should I apply the ground spices sparingly? Liberally?

As for the vodka, I can't imagine what _it_ contributes to the cake in the way of flavour or texture. Can I substitute just plain, old water for the vodka? Or is there a je-ne-sais-quoi, beyond booziness, that vodka contributes to a licorice-y, orange-y bundt cake with licorice-y, orange-y glaze? If so, what substitute could approximate that je-ne-sais-quoi?


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  1. Interesting dilemma. Here are the flavors used in Galliano, according the wiki: vanilla, star anise, Mediterranean anise, ginger, citrus, juniper, musk yarrow, and lavender.

    That looks like a tall order to simulate.

    Orange and vanilla sound good to me! Maybe do an anise and ginger soaking syrup (sugar syrup to brush on the cake).

    1. Harvy Wallbanger cake --- yum. I suppose it could be made without the alcohol, which begs the question why. Why would you take a fabulously delicious recipe and make it less. The cake itself has 1/2 cup or less of alcohol, most of which will cook off, leaving the flavors behind. The traditional Bundt cake recipe serves 10 to 12, and I really don't see your Aunt getting too boozed up on that small amount of alcohol. Besides, she's 82. Let her enjoy her memories. That would be a wonderful gift. Now if you're really set on cutting back on the alcohol; replace the vodka with more orange juice. Stick with the Galliano, which is expensive but the flavor is well worth it. Or use Sambuca or another anise [not licorise] flavored liquor. There's one or two under $10. The glaze is probably where you get the strong taste and smell of alcohol. Again, it's only 2 oz or less, and it's drizzeled over a whole BIG cake. Don't make yourself crazy grinding spices and making adjustments. Stick with the recipe using less alcohol if you must, and enjoy the making of a gift filled with good memories. You're a good and kind Niece, God bless. PS; Don't make the cake from scratch. Been there, done that and it's not as good. And use orange cake mix if you can find it. PPS; As far as the je-ne-sais-quoi of vodka goes, it's all about flavinoids. Some flavors dissolve in water, .while others dissolve in alcohol. More flavors means a more yummy dish. But this is a Harvy Wallbanger cake and I don't see too many flavinoids coming from a cake mix. So the vodkas presence is more about being true to the original cocktail and cutting through the richness of the Galliano. Yes. That's gotta be it! Happy baking, happy life.

      1. Concentrate on orange and vanilla flavors. Skip the licorice extract, that sounds truly horrible.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jaykayen

          I agree about the licorice extract. I love licorice in candy, and I'll even chew on a licorice root/stem, but I don't want to put licorice extract in things.
          I'll consult with my aunt today about the alcoholic content and see what she wants. I don't want to try to sneak anything into it. If she gives the original version the nod, I'll go with that. But now I'm intrigued by the idea of a vanilla and orange cake with an anise and ginger soak. Mmmmmm. Maybe I'll try revani (sp?) that way.