Last week I posted the beginning of my Jane Austen Cookbook project, where in I will be making recipes from the updated version of Martha Lloyd’s recipe book on display at Chawton Cottage (Jane’s home for the last eight years of her life). The first post included a pound cake made with Madeira. Susan Mason-Milks (Mr. Darcy’s Proposal) commented on Facebook that her favorite cake was ‘wine cake’ made with sherry, I responded that it was one of my favorites as well and while Susan makes a sherry glaze, I prefer powered sugar (confectioners sugar).
This cake is lovely and moist. It’s versatile enough to be used as desert for almost any meal, it’s a wonderful addition to a tea table and a highlight for breakfast. (I’m having some right now with my morning tea). It’s a beautiful bundt cake that makes a particularly splendid centerpiece on a desert table or on a fancy cake plate by it self. But, for me, one of the best attributes of this cake is it’s ease of creation. It’s simple to make and it’s simple to serve. A dusting of powdered sugar is all that is necessary for a finishing touch. No frosting or glaze is needed. In about an hour you have a tasty, tempting and delicious accompaniment to any meal or gathering. It takes about 10 minutes to mix and 45 minutes to bake. I always keep the ingredients on hand so I can make it on the spur-of-the-moment.
The first time I made this cake was July 20, 1969. My family had gathered to watch the moon landing. I made the cake while the lunar module left the Apollo orbiter and descended on to the surface of the moon. I served it just before the Eagle landed on Tranquility Base (the Sea of Tranquility) and we were enjoying it as Neil Armstrong made the small step for man and giant leap for mankind. The simple cake was the perfect counterpoint to the technological wonder of man landing on the moon.
If you want to try the cake with a glaze ala Susan I’ve included a simple recipe for you. I prefer the delicate flavor of Sheffield Cream Sherry rather than the sharpness of Harvey’s Bristol Cream. I’ve made the cake with rum, as well, but it really didn’t change the flavor much, perhaps the rum cake needs a nice butter, rum glaze. I’ll try that next time. In the meantime, here is the Wine Cake recipe for your enjoyment.