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Wine Cake & My Search For a Baking Unicorn

It’s a standard, but I’m conflicted everytime I make it.  It’s also highly processed, and yet super easy and really delicious. What’s a girl to do?

Every time I make this recipe, I’m really conflicted. From the time I go to the store to get the cake mix, to the time my family devours it. And nearly every time I make it, I am asked for the recipe.  This has a cake and pudding mix in it.  I am on a mission to retool this recipe. But, I have many good memories with this.

My mom said as kids, my sister and I begged her to make this for our birthday.  My hubby & son love it too!  (You know, the husband who “doesn’t like sweet stuff”.) It’s always a hit when I bring it places, and it couldn’t be easier… and yet…

Why am I conflicted? It’s got a cake mix in it, so I use this one, and I feel a little better (except my wallet hurts a bit.) It’s also got an instant gelatin packet in it. I’m not trying to say anyone is evil for doing such things. What I AM saying, is I think this could be better. It could be real food.

I’ve scoured the interwebs for wine cake. I thought it might an Italian thing, or even French. No such luck. There’s lots of renditions, quite similar to the one you see below. But I’m determined to make one from scratch. There has to be a way. Has. to.

Didn’t people make moist (boozy?) cakes with cream sherry before cake mixes? There’s got to be one out there. Maybe you, dear reader, know of one such baking unicorn. My quest continues, and you’ll be sure to know about it here when I figure it out. (Because ohhhhh, I WILL.)

Until then, I submit this humble little cake, which is quite delicious, and one of the most requested baking goods in my house. If you’re short on time, this one is worth the 10 minutes it takes to mix.

Wine Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8-10
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • ¾ cup sherry (any white-ish dessert wine is also good)
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup oil (canola is good)
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple or pear sauce
  • 1 (3.5oz.) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (or 325F for a dark non-stick pan).
  2. Add all ingredients to a bowl, and beat 3 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Pour into a greased & floured bundt cake pan.
  4. Bake 45-50 minutes.
  5. Test with a skewer – when it comes out cleanish, it’s done. (This cake is very moist!)
  6. Cool 5 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  7. When cool, sift powdered sugar over top.
Other ideas:
Try using other flavors of pudding like cheese cake or french vanilla I
Use a glaze: whisk powdered sugar an a teaspoon or two of lemon or orange juice, to the consistency of buttermilk. Drizzle on cooled cake. (I do this in a measuring cup with a spout so it’s easy to pour.)
If you’re a citrus nut, try adding lemon or orange zest to the batter. In this case, just use the sifted powdered sugar on the top.


Mary Rarick

This looks delicious, Brandie…and super easy! Thanks!


Brandie,I love this cake! I can’t wait to make it tonight!

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