Harvey Wallbanger cake from scratch

Who knew there was such a crying need for this? I just got this email: “I’m writing to ask if you know of any recipes for Amaretto cake or Harvey Wallbanger Cake that don’t require a cake mix. I’m a from-scratch baker and I’m looking desperately for one! If you can help, that’d be great!! Thanks, Chavi Samet, Israel. So I promptly googled Harvey Wallbanger scratch cake and found no less then ten plaintive cries for a real, honest-to-Pete cake recipe that didn’t start with a box mix.

As luck would have it, I just finished testing the yellow cake recipe for our new Guaranteed Classics recipes (PJ hinted at this in her birthday cake piece last week). Lo and behold, a quick peek told me that it should do the trick for Harvey with no trouble. Off I went.

Here’s the recipe:

Harvey Wallbanger from Scratch
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 ounces) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons (1 1/8 ounces) cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup (6 ounces) orange juice
1/4 cup (2 ounces) Galliano
1/4 cup (2 ounces) vodka
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon Galliano
1 teaspoon vodka

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-cup Bundt® pan.

Before we get started, here’s a hint: any cake recipe works best if the butter, liquid and eggs are all at room temperature before they’re combined. Putting cold eggs into soft butter equals a curdled mess. To bring everything to room temperature right out of the frige, place the eggs in a bowl, and cover with the warmest tap water you can run over your hand. Let them sit while you measure out the dry ingredients and you’ll be all set.


You can also do this with sticks of butter, still in their wrappers, in lukewarm water. It really works. Just pat the sticks dry with a paper towel before you unwrap them and put them in the mixing bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, butter and salt until fluffy. Beat in the oil, then the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg completely disappears before adding the next one.


This is what the butter, sugar, and oil look like after creaming.


After the third egg joins the party, the mixture looks like this.


Time to measure out the hooch. In a measuring cup, stir together the orange juice, Galliano, vodka, and orange zest. If everything’s cold, warm it for 30 seconds in the microwave. The flour, cornstarch, and baking powder are already whisked together and on standby.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture to the mixing bowl, mixing until it disappears. Scrape the mixing bowl.


This sounds tedious, but it’s the difference between a good cake and a streaky could-have-been. Ever get a cake all mixed up, go to pour the batter in the pan, and find a pool of butter and sugar still hanging out on the bottom of the bowl? I thought so. Get out the scraper.


I’m adding a tablespoon of fresh orange zest for a little flavor boost. Now half the liquid goes in. After it’s combined, add another third of the dry, the rest of the wet, mix, scrape, add the last of the dry ingredients and beat until the batter is smooth with one last scrape down for good measure. Now transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and smooth out the top.


The back of a tablespoon works well to smooth out the top of the cake.


Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes (don’t let it go too long, or it will get dry). The top will bounce back when you touch it lightly with your finger, and a tester or toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it in its pan for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, use a dull knife or pointed icing spatula to loosen the cake from the edge of the pan.


Teasing the cake away from the ridges in the center is a little “insurance policy” for getting it to release evenly.


Put a plate on top of the pan. Turn everything over and let it sit for a moment.


Pick up the edge of the pan and jiggle it a bit. You’ll feel the cake fall out. Carefully lift the pan straight up off the cake.


Voila. And phew.


For the glaze, whisk the orange juice (I like to use fresh squeezed for this) and the hooch together until smooth. The glaze will seem a little thick, but that’s how it should be.


Drizzle it over the cake while it’s still lukewarm. The heat from the cake will help the glaze travel over the cake and make a nice, smooth finish.

I put this cake out for tasting, and it was pretty funny to hear the comments. A LOT of our coworkers got an instant taste trip down memory lane. “Oh, Harvey Wallbangers, I used to love them! What was in them anyway?”
The cake was a big hit. I hope all of those folks on the lookout for a scratch version of this classic come and find us. In any case, it’s a good excuse to fire up the Sinatra records and stir things up a little bit!

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. PJ Hamel

    Whoops, Brenda, you caught us – what, you don’t think 14 cups of vodka would make an, uh. interesting cake? thanks, I’ll go in and fix that-

  2. Kim

    This cake sounds yummy! I love a great bunt cake, and a bunt cake chock full o’liquor never hurts either!

    Your kitchen seems to sport a very nicely stocked bar!

  3. Susan Reid

    Actually, this recipe required a special trip to the liquor store. And thanks for fixing my fraction, PJ. Missed that when I proofed (maybe there’s too high a proof!) the recipe.

  4. Candace

    Sounds super! Just the thing our teachers will appreciate at the last day of school party! (unh, that’s AFTER the kids leave, at someone’s house) Is there a place to get the recipe without copying all the photos?

  5. Nel

    In the last picture, you seem to be pouring the glaze from some kind of coiled wire thingy. What is that? Is this some clever KA trick?

  6. Penny

    Goodness that looks YUMMY! I have also had succes getting my butter to room temperature by simply slicing it into fairly thin slices while I assemble all the rest of the ingredients.

  7. Marilyn B.

    Mmmm…looks yummy!

    For those wanting a “printable” version, it’s really easy just to copy the text and paste it into a document…WordPad, Notepad, MS Word, Open Office, whatever…

  8. Susan Reid

    To Nel: The coiled wire thingy is a mini egg whisk. Unfortunately, we don’t carry it any more, but Kuhn Rikon makes one that’s similar and heart shaped, which would be even better for this kind of application. I found the Kuhn Rikon with no trouble by googling mini whisk.

  9. Marilyn B.

    The Nigella Lawson whisk would work well too. Is it okay to mention other stores? Amazon.com has the Nigella Lawson and it’s inexpensive…$5.99 when I looked.

  10. Nel

    A mini-whisk! How clever. I don’t think I’ve seen one over here.

    Apropos of tools… I was on a bread-baking site that often references KA (breadtopia?) and the guy in the videos uses a dough whisk like the one you sell. He said on his site that it’s called a Danish (I think) dough whisk, but in fact, they come from Poland.

    Here I sit in Poland (been here for 16 years), and I’ve never seen one of those before. It doesn’t look like any of the traditional kitchen implements I’ve seen over here. I don’t suppose you know the name of the Polish distributor or anything?

  11. Cheryl

    You really do need to put a printable version without all the blow by blow comments for people that are not beginner bakers. Would really like to try this recipe but need a printable recipe without having to copy and paste and then go in and figure out all the jibberish.

  12. Susan Reid, post author


    We’ve posted the recipe in our online archive; the link is at the beginning of the blog entry.

  13. debbie

    i’m from manila. what can i substitute for galliano?

    Debbie, Galliano is a liqueur with a distinctly anise (licorice) flavor. It’s 60 proof (30% alcohol). So if you could find anything local with similar flavor/strength, that would be your option. And you could always substitute some anise oil or extract plus 1/4 cup OJ or other fruit juice or water… it’s the licorice flavor, basically, that you’re looking for. – PJH

  14. Jo

    If I wanted to make this an Amaretto cake, what would I do? Thanks!

    My fellow blogger Susan, whose recipe this is, isn’t around this week – she’s getting married! But I’d substitute Amaretto for the Galliano in both cake and glaze; and substitute apple juice for the OJ. Good luck, Jo – PJH

  15. Diane

    Thanks, I have been trying to find the recipe my stepmom used in the 80’s for this cake and this is the one!!! Now I can make a real HW Cake!

  16. Kristen

    Hooray! My bf’s fav cake is the Harvey Wallbanger! I made him the one from the cake mix but I found it too dense. I am making him a from scratch version tonight, because you can never have to much hooch cakes!A couple of tips from my experience:

    – I always prefer the from scratch versions of any cake, but I know there are those out there who don’t have the time or patience… SO if you are using the cake mix; since it’s nearly impossible to find an orange flavoured cake mix, you can add 1 pkg of orange koolaid to a yellow or white cake mix and get the same orange-y flavour!

    – I used a toothpick to poke some holes in the warm cake before pouring the glaze which allows in to soak into the cake. If you like it boozy like my bf, do this and then add another coat of glaze after the first one sets… you’ll be breathing fire!

  17. Cindy

    How can I make this without the Harvey and the Wallbanger? That is, how and what do I substitute for the liquor if I want just an orange juice cake?

    You could replace the liquors with either water or apple juice. Frank from KAF.

  18. Amanda

    OMG, you have totally made not just my day, but my entire life. I started making HW cake when I was, oh, 13. (Yup, my mom bought me the hooch–shhhhh!) Even back then, I was a from-scratch sort of girl. I felt incredible guilt for making this cake from a mix, even if it was delicious. I have always bemoaned the lack of a “real” recipe for this cake, ie, from scratch.

    There are not words to express my love for you.

    Amanda – You are so very sweet. Thank you! We are all here to help. Elisabeth @ KAF

  19. Dawn Famulare

    Can you tell me what the difference between using anisette colonial club liquh eur 30 proof compared to anise extract? How much anisette do I use to replace 1Tbs of anise extract?
    Dawn: you should be able to substitute 1 for one; go with one tablespoon. Susan

  20. Brenda K

    Thanks so much for this recipe, and also including the weight of the ingredients — so much more precise when baking.

  21. Deborah R

    This cake is absolutely fabulous! Just made it for my spouse’s birthday (we had a 70’s disco party). I was so happy to find this recipe, as I refuse to bake from a mix. The texture was perfect! And it was delicious–a wonderful orange vanilla flavor without having to use vanilla instant pudding. Everyone raved about it. P.S. Even though I’m an experienced from-scratch baker, I didn’t mind the detailed instructions, and I loved the tip about putting the eggs in warm water to bring them to room temperature.

  22. Mindi

    Haha! Thank you for this recipe! I was looking for the exact same thing a while ago. I despise cooking with a box mix. Scratch cakes taste much, much better. I just could not find this cake in a scratch version. Harvey Wallbanger cake happens to be my best friend’s favorite! So I had to make him this for his birthday!

  23. Sara

    I was so pleased to find this!! I have been looking for the small bottles of Galliano for a year and finally found them – but had lost my cake recipe!

    I also truly appreciated the step by step directions although i am a experienced cook – it is always good to have further reference to make sure i am doing it right!

    thanks again

  24. Stacie

    Hello, thanks so much for this – you have made my day! I’ve been making the HW cake, using cake mix for over 20 years, and now that I live in the UK, I can’t get the Betty Crocker yellow cake mix. I can’t wait to make this from scratch… Do you have the ingredient measurements in grams rather than ounces? Also, one more tip – if duck eggs are available to you, if you use fresh duck eggs instead of chicken eggs for cakes, you’ll get a more yellow colour and the cakes come out really moist and rich. Thanks again!
    I am sorry but we do not have measurments in grams. If you multiply your ounces by 28.35 you will have the amount of grams you need. We will have to keep an eye out for duck eggs. Joan @bakershotline

  25. Dorothy

    Back in the 80s I was making HW cake with orange liqueur rather than an anise-flavored liqueur. Why anise?

    Hi Dorothy – Far as I know, HW cake has always been made with Galliano, which is a citrus-herb liqueur with an anise undertone. Perhaps you forgot the anise, and remembered the orange? PJH

  26. Joni

    Have been dreaming about this cake since I first tasted it a million years ago! I’m excited to re-ignite the holiday traditon my grandmother started! Thanks! You’re awesome!

  27. Galen

    Regarding Sara’s post on Oct. 12–Where did you find the small bottles of Galliano? I can’t think why I would buy it except for the cake. This recipe and all the comments are exactly what I needed to make this cake. Thanks!

  28. Reg

    I can’t have alcohol – this looks good, but are there any substitutions that I could make and still get a comparable cake?

    Reg, you could try just plain orange juice, with a hint of anise flavor – PJH

  29. Anne C. Walker

    Reg, The temperature the cake will reach whild baking will vaporize the alcohol in the ingredients of this cake. Congratulations on your sobriety! Happy New Year!

  30. Marcia A.

    I can’t wait to try this scratch recipe…..used to make this cake from a mix back in the 80’s. Galliano is only available in large, expensive bottles in my area & was told that Triple Sec gives the same flavor for less $$. Any comments?

  31. Joe Vogl

    I have made many HW cakes over the years and have been leaving out the Vodka. It’s really just alcohol and water and the alcohol evaporates away. Instead, I substitute another 1/4 cup of Galliano – sure do like its flavor. I believe the vodka is in there because the HW drink itself consists of OJ, vodka and Galliano.

  32. azafa28

    although i made a variation of the original recipe, i thought it was an excelent recipe. my variations are simple, i exchange galiano for liquor 43 which has a vanilla like taste, (i guess that would actually change the name of the cake, lol) and i added a package of instant vanilla pudding which gives a little more moistness. the cake came out perfect, but i must warn you, don’t eat too much of it, or try and bake several on the same day while eating it. have plenty of cofs of cuppee on hand!
    Too funny! My first thought was to hit the edit button but then I got it!!! Sounds like when my husband’s aunts used to make margaritas and then get to wallpapering the bedrooms. Talk about two things that shouldn’t be done on the same day! ~ MaryJane

  33. Stacywhitt

    I love that there is a home made version of this cake! I used to make this one with my mom as a teenager, and have made several over the years. For the box mix, we always used the lemon or the orange flavored mix. Can’t wait to try this version! My husband’s birthday is tomorrow and will make the scratch verson! Yeah for that!!!
    Amazing how pervasive manufactured food became for a while, isn’t it, that I had to invent a scratch recipe for this? Susan

  34. Marjie

    This recipe looks great, but one question. No pudding in the recipe?

    No pudding required for this dense and delicious cake! Enjoy the made-from-scratch journey – Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  35. Susan

    WOW! Thanks so much! I am making it for my parent’s 50th because it was my favourite when I was a little girl and I don’t do cake mixes.

  36. Grace Kasal

    I am so thrilled to find this from scratch recipe for the Harvey Wallbanger cake. I am especially pleased because there is no need to use the box of vanilla pudding mix with all of it’s artificial ingredients. We live in the Central Valley of California and are very fortunate to have our own Orange trees. This years oranges are deliciously sweet, and will be a wonderful addition to my cake. Thank you again for your wonderful recipes for those of us that love to bake from scratch.

    1. PJ Hamel

      You’re very welcome, Grace. We envy you your fresh fruit — right from your own backyard! Enjoy the cake — PJH

  37. Mary Pascuzzi

    Hi, I want to try this recipe because Im tired of using the packet mix…….but I want to use a normal round cake tin and not a bundt pan….Is it Okay?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mary, you can bake this recipe in two 8″ or 9″ round cake pans if you don’t have a Bundt pan. Bake at 350°F for about 25-35 minutes, depending on what size pan you use. Insert a toothpick into the center to ensure it has finished baking all the way through. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Go ahead and dig in, April! The cake will be delicious when it’s freshly baked, but it can also last at room temperature for up to five days. (We bet it will disappear before then, though!) Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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