Let Them Eat: Concord Grape Cake


On Saturday mornings when my husband and I go out to run errands, I like to make a pit stop at the farmers' market. Occasionally, we indulge in a few sugar-and-cinnamon-coated cider doughnuts and hot cider, and stroll, wax-paper baggie in hand, checking out the maple syrup, bread, and seasonal produce.

On a recent weekend I wasn't on that sort of casual, "just looking!" walk. I was on the prowl for cake ingredients. My computer screen's border is hidden under purple and yellow Post-Its with cake ideas on them. Unfortunately, every single one of those ideas had been baked and crossed out and I was feeling uninspired and without direction.

Doughnut in hand—yes, I had stopped for one, to prevent plunging even further into despair—I walked, eyes darting from stall to stall, anxiety building; were apples the only thing to be found today? And then, a table covered with Concord grapes. Compact and tightly clustered, deepest azure peeking from a delicate, powdery white bloom, they exhaled ripe, sweet aroma.

I paid for two sea foam green compressed cardboard containers, carefully tucking them into a bag so as not to accidentally turn them into juice, and continued with the day's to-do list. The day was looking bright and lovely now.

"I'm positive I'm tasting the color purple when I bite into one."

Concord grapes' scent and flavor are potent and concentrated. Eating one induces temporary synesthesia: I'm positive I'm tasting the color purple when I bite into one. This cake is meant to allow those qualities shine, exult, sing.

You'll find grapes in the cake, and also in a gorgeous patent leather-shiny layer of jam on top. It's crumbly, moist, sticky, glossy, and, how else to describe it: grape-y.