great grandma potter's wine cake

I remember the first time I heard this song...

My dad said, "Listen."

Maybe he was sick of me jabbering his ear off or maybe he thought I was finally old enough to enjoy this song.

"Listen and tell me if you can think of a better song than this."

I still can't.

There are foods that you can't remember the first time you had them, they have always just been there.

Present, sometimes they fall out of favor but you can never remember a time when they weren't in your life.

Then there are foods that you remember the first bite. This cake was and still is mine.

I was little when I first had this cake. I don't remember why or where I had it or even my age. I just remember three very distinctive memories.

The first was that is was shaped so differently. Welcome to the world of bundt pans! Every cake when you are small seems to be rectangular or a circle. This cake was 3-D! With bumps, ridges, and no frosting! Thank God. I really didn't and still don't care for frosting. It's a distraction from the good stuff. I know, I know, hearsay but sorry, frosting just isn't my thing.

But instead of frosting it had powdered sugar sprinkled on top. So different than the regular sugar you dumped on your Cheerios to make it palatable.

And the taste... sweet but adult like. It wasn't cloying like a kids birthday cake and I remember wanting to eat all of it. It was the first time that thought ever ran through my head. That if left alone with this cake I would eat it all and there wouldn't be a crumb left.

Then the cake was gone...

It disappeared. No one made it again. Our family wasn't a bunch of bakers or dessert eaters and I never knew what it was called and wasn't smart enough to ask after it.

Funnily enough every time I ate a bundt cake, I expected it to taste like that first cake. Every time I made a cake in a bundt pan, it never met my memories expectations(even the class valedictorian doesn't know how to write memories in possessive form... *cough cough* catherine.). It was a subconscious letdown. I could never place why it didn't taste the same.

In November, when my Grandmother was in the hospital and my Aunt Nancy found out I had a food blog, she asked if I had my Great Grandmother's wine cake recipe. Aunt Nancy explained that she and my mom always use to ask for her to make it for them. I asked her to email it to me and promptly forgot about it until Mother's Day when looking for something different to do for my mom.

I made the cake.


I wasn't expecting much but when the cake came out of the oven, the smell triggered something in my subconscious. My brain yelled out, "This is what you remember!!!! THIS IS THAT CAKE!"

I took a bite and sure enough it was.

Then I promptly made another just for myself to celebrate.

It might not be Proust's madeleine but it is close enought for me.

great grandma potter's wine cake:

1 package of yellow cake mix
1 package of instant banana pudding
3/4 cup dry sherry
4 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together. Place batter in a greased bundt pan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. When cool, remove from pan and dust with confectioners sugar.

Tasting Notes: I really don't think I need to say more but if pressed I would say that while some people have their house wine, house dressing, or some such thing... this would be the cake you will now always find on my cake stand... if it lasts that long.


coffee and queso said...

Welcome back, Krysta! We missed you. I love these old-fashioned bundt cakes: My college roommate's grandmother used to send us her Kahlua cake. It was DIVINE!
I may just try this out for a family gathering this weekend... in my pretty rosey-shaped bundt pan. (Thanks!)

Jennifer said...

Yes on the song.
Yes on food memories.
Yes (or should I say NO) on frosting.
I love how aromas bring back memories in surprisingly vivid ways. (When I smell Chanel No. 5, I am instantly transported to 1976, swinging with my grandmother on her porch.)

I will be making this cake!

I hope you are well. We missed you.

maybelle's mom said...

I was just working on a post about my grandmother when I saw this in the reader. What a wonderful post about memories recaptured/ retasted.

The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Hey girl...missed you. Hope everything is going well. Loved this post. I'd need to make my Mom's pizzelles to post something like this, but since she's still making them, I'll just wait, lol.

Melissa said...

Wonderful post.

I hate frosting. And I hate overly sweet cakes. This sounds PERFECT. And nostalgic and beautiful.

P.S. It would be "memory's expectations." The singular possessive here conveys exactly what you meant.

/grammarian speech

Aggie said...

Isn't it crazy how food triggers memories like that? This cake sounds perfect. Great recipe to have!

tamilyn said...

I'm with you-give me cake, I don't need the frosting. This looks devine.

LOL to Jennifer, I totally have a bottle of Channel #5 because I love it so much from my youth!

me again said...

Thank you for this post. Food memories -- the taste, the smell -- are, I believe, among our most important remembered experiences. Mine is my grandmother's chocolate cake with orange frosting. I've tried and tried and while I think I have the cake down pat, the orange frosting, the way I remember it, still eludes me. One day.....

me again said...

And now I have a question....does it matter what kind of sherry? Any particular label you'd recommend? Sweet or dry? What did you use?

LilSis said...

I think I'm going to have to comment tomorrow. I'm having an emotional day and your post is just crazy, amazing, right on with food and music and memories...

Kristin @ Going Country said...

I don't like frosting, either. When I was little, my brother and I used to share cupcakes: he would eat the frosting, I would eat the cake. Ah, siblings.

MoJo said...

I just recently found your blog and you have now won me over with a box mix recipe. I am ALL for that! Sounds yummy and I love the memories. Food and music have a way of leaving impressions.

p.s. I don't like frosting either!

TheKitchenWitch said...

I followed you over from Phoo-D, and I love your writing style! I will be following with interest.

TexasDeb said...

Yay you are back! And with this recipe to boot. I've been so waiting for this one and it did not disappoint.

As to Dock of the Bay? About the best song ever. Instant mood lifter. Just the opening bars calm me.

No icing on cake - check! Envious you still have your Mom/Aunt/Gmom around to get recipes from? Check and double check.

Today has been a real up and down of a day. At this precise moment I needed something like your cake. Not too sweet, but a reminder of how precious every day, and some days, every bite of cake, can truly be.

Thank you.

noble pig said...

Okay, you've convinced me, I want it. I swear to god I packed my bottle of sherry today and I am a bit annoyed. I thought, I won't need this right now. Pftt!

Mayberry Magpie said...

Best post EVER.

And not just because of the combo of music and food (although that song gets me every time).

No -- it's because this story is evocative and perfect in every way. Tone, length, mood, pace.

And just when you think you can't write, you come up with this sublime phrase: "it wasn't cloying like a kid's birthday cake."

You nailed it sister. (The post and the cake.) I think congratulations are in order.

LilSis said...

Hi Krysta,
I love this post. I love that song. And, I love memories of baking with my grandmother, too. My sister just posted about the days when we would help my grandmother make peach fried pies. And, if I could ever duplicate her pickled peaches, I would be in heaven. Some tastes you just never forget.

I usually have better luck with bundt cakes for some reason, and I can't stand frosting, so this cake is perfect for me! I'm going to make it today.

Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

Does it matter what kind of sherry?

Kirstin said...

Made the cake last night and brought it to work this morning. I managed to go until 10 a.m. before slicing it. Yum! I had a second piece of "breakfast" cake at 10:30 a.m. I hope there's still some there when I go to lunch.

Nurit "1 family. friendly. food." said...

I love the family and food posts, mainly nostalgic ones. My mind is wondering to better times... (not in my family, sadly). And then... how funny that I did not, totally not, expected a boxed mix and instand pudding :) in the recipe!

Real Live Lesbian said...

I have in-laws coming in this weekend and I have everything in this recipe! Can I just say, YAY?

Great song, great recipe!

Thanks for sharing.

www.potsandpins.com said...

Hey how are you?! I was SO thrilled when I read this recipe!! My neighbors make wine cake every year for Christmas and they bring me one but they won't give me the recipe!!! Now I won't have to wait until Christmas to get this great cake - I'm sure the recipes are pretty close because every other year or so they drop little hints about the ingredients! I'll be making this tomorrow and I can hardly wait to taste it! Thanks so much! xo, Nan

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