Sangrita Layer Cake

The neighborhood pool is open. Your grill is fired up. And I’ve rolled my Slip ‘N Slide Double Wave Rider out on the front lawn.

Summer has officially arrived.

Which can only mean one thing:  you’re going to need something a little more interesting than a box of wine or basket of weenies to bring to the next picnic, potluck or pool party. Allow me to humbly suggest trying a Sangrita Layer Cake with Citrus Meringue Frosting and Agave Crunch on for size.

In case you’ve never tried it, sangrita is not to be confused with sangria. They’re both fruity and they both start with an ‘s’ and end in an ‘a’, but the similarities end there.

Traditional sangrita preparations are designed to be a non-alcoholic compliment to a straight shot of tequila blanco. While there are many recipes for sangrita floating around out there, most include a base of sweet citrus juices paired with ground chiles or hot sauce for heat. Variations can include pomegranate juice, mango juice, cucumber and even fresh chiles.

Much modern sangrita is made with tomato juice and, although purists may turn their nose insisting that the red color of the drink should come from freshly ground chile powder instead of tomato juice, I personally prefer the tomato juice variation and I’m sticking with it.

This layer cake is based on a modern sip of sangrita. Don’t freak out about the tomato – I’ll hold your hand and talk you through it.

The thing about tomatoes is that they actually are really sweet, especially in the summer. Don’t you agree?

And when you pair them with fresh, sweet citrus juices and, you know, put some frosting on top, there’s really nothing to be scared of.

The naturally bright orange color hiding underneath the glossy white frosting is a bonus.

We’re also lining the inside and edges of this sangrita-inspired cake with an agave crunch. I want to make sure you really stand out at that next picnic, potluck or pool party. Show that weenie basket-bringing neighbor what’s what.

The crunch is basically a simple granola tossed with agave nectar and baked to a crisp. It’s going to take the texture of this cake to the next level.

See? Now we’re on the next level. And it’s clearly the right place to be.

The cake is sweet, light and airy. The frosting is whipped and shiny. And the crunch is crunchy! Aren’t you glad you skipped that box of wine?

I bet your neighbor’s glad too. He couldn’t think of anything better than those weenies to bring and now he’s sitting there eating all of your cake. What a weenie.

Sangrita Layer Cake With Citrus Meringue Frosting And Agave Crunch

For the cake:
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ancho chile, ground
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. white sugar, granulated
4 large eggs
1/2 c. orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 c. tomato paste
2 tbsp. orange zest

For the crunch:
1/3 c. coconut, shredded, sweetened, roughly chopped
1/4 c. pine nuts, roughly chopped
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped
1/4 c. sunflower seeds, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. light raw agave nectar

For the frosting:
4 large egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. white sugar, granulated
1/2 c. water
2 tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. lime zest

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare the crunch, toss all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until the dry ingredients are well-coated and small clusters form. Spread the crunch evenly onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until pieces are beginning to turn a deep golden color. Remove baked crunch and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, line the bottoms of 2- 9″ round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ancho chile powder and salt, and set aside. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with the tomato paste and orange juice, mixing until just combined. Fold in the zest. Divide evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, approximately 31-33 minutes. Cool cakes at least 5 minutes before unmolding.

To prepare the frosting, bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes or until it reaches 242° on a candy thermometer, whichever comes first. Remove the syrup from heat. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until stiff, glossy peaks form. Beat in the sugar syrup and continue to beat until stiff peaks reform. Gently fold in the citrus juices and zest. Chill the finished frosting until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Once the cakes have cooled, unmold them (I strongly recommend using cardboard cake rounds to transport and support the layers of this cake as you assemble it). Using a serrated knife, slice off any bumps or ridges on the tops of either cake layer so that they will sit as flat as possible. Place your foundation layer bottom down and spread the top with frosting. Using your hands, break the cooled crunch into small pieces. Sprinkle the frosted layer generously with crunch. Carefully stack your next layer, also bottom down, and crumb coat the sides of the cake. Finish by frosting the sides and top of the cake generously. Note that this frosting recipe makes more than enough to cover this cake; frost generously and store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for your next cake or cupcake project. Once your finished cake is set on the serving platter of your choice, carefully line the bottom edge with crunch, and top the cake with any remaining crunch. Serve immediately.

YIELD:  approximately 10-12 servings


  1. 26


    I’m definitely skeptical of the tomato-ness in this cake – but you said you’d hold my hand, so I’m willing to give it a shot =)

  2. 24


    Another amazing post for me to drool over… I’m featuring it in this week’s Food Fetish Friday series (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and as always I love following your creations… Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. 3


    I admit I first read that as Sangria…whoops! But now I’m informed : ) This sounds fantastic, I would definitely be guilty of bogarting the cake!

  4. 1


    Until now, i had no knowledge of sangrita, so I have learned about a new item here. Pretty unique of you to incorporate it into a cake. Also, it does look to be quite delicious, perfect texture, flavor combination and color. This one is a keeper and this post most certainly gets my vote! Well done.


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