Recipe Hub: Wine Cakes Not Wine Caves!

Recipe Hub
Recipe Hub: Wine Cakes Not Wine Caves!

SO! I was going to, in the spirit of the holidays, do a recipe for struffoli or something like that, but then it occurred to me that even I do not like struffoli that much. They're super cute and festive and they look nice on a table, but they're also a lot of work and they get stuck in your teeth.

Instead, since I'm visiting my parents and thus have access to my mom's box of recipe cards, I came up with something doubly festive: my Nana's wine cake! It works because you could make it for the holidays if you wanted to (especially if topped with some festive colored sugar), but also, you know, "wine caves" are a thing this week, so puns. You could eat it in your very own wine cave made of empty Franzia boxes, even.

It's one of the few cakes I actually like, since I'm not a frosting person (judge away!). I don't quite know how to describe it except to say that it's kind of like pound cake but lighter. It does not taste like wine, and I'm pretty sure all the wine burns off in the cooking process so you don't have to worry that it will get your children drunk or anything like that. My Nana made it all the time for me when I was a kid who hated frosting, and I do not recall ever getting drunk off of it.

Robyn's Nana's Wine Cake!

1 pkg Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1pkg instant vanilla pudding
3/4 cup Crisco oil
4 eggs
3/4 cup sherry
1 tsp nutmeg

—Combine all ingredients, mix for five minutes
—Pour into greased bundt pan
—Bake at 350 for 45 minutes
—Cool for five minutes before turning onto rack
— Sprinkle with either powdered sugar or granulated colored sugar

That's it! It's super delicious and easy and probably a good thing to keep in your back pocket should you ever invite some frosting-hating weirdo like me to your house for dinner.

And A Little Bonus History!

My Nana, by the way, was a super cool lady who worked for the International Institute of Rhode Island (now the DORCAS International Institute of Rhode Island) for many, many years. If you're not familiar with the the International Institute movement, it was founded and led by another very cool lady named Edith Terry Bremer, whom I think should be way more famous.

After working at settlement houses and as a researcher for Chicago Women's Trade Union League and for the juvenile court system and the United States Immigration Commission, Bremer came to the conclusion that the Americanization programs were A) gross and B) did not do a whole lot to help women immigrants. She was not wrong. Americanization programs were horrible and cruel, pretty much only for men (as it was assumed that only the men would be working), and had more to do with making non-immigrants feel comfortable than with actually helping anyone.

She started the first International Institute in 1910 as part of an experimental program with a local YMCA, focused primarily on helping immigrant girls and women on their own terms, based on what they said they needed — English classes, help with immigration paperwork, job training, etc. Rather than trying to force immigrants to reject their cultural identities and assimilate, the International Institutes embraced pluralism and multiculturalism. By the 1920s, there were over 55 International Institutes across the country, replacing the vast majority of those creepy ass Americanization programs.

While there are not as many today as there were back then, there are still several International Institutes across the country, along with many other organizations in the Bremer mold. She wasn't super famous, you're probably not going to read about her in many places, but she did a lot of good and profoundly changed the way we help new immigrants and refugees settle in our country.

Anyway! This is now your open thread! Have a lovely day!

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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