Tahoe recipe: Mémé’s Valentine’s Day Wine Cake | SierraSun.com

Tahoe recipe: Mémé’s Valentine’s Day Wine Cake

No, this is not a quote from a presidential candidate on this Presidents' Day weekend. It is a Valentine's Day suggestion. Love trumps election coverage any day.
Courtesy / Simone Grandmain |

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — There are two schools of thought regarding the romantic properties of cake. There are those we will label “pro cake” who get misty-eyed just thinking about that moment when they stuck their fork into a piece of layered chiffon, hoping to stab a strawberry, and instead hit the mother lode in the way of an engagement ring.

Then there are those we will call “anti cake” who really had nothing against this baked good until their wedding day when their spouse, on the count of three, thought it would be a good idea to shove a piece of the $1,200 wedding cake into their face during the ritual cutting, sharing and feeding moment.

I never, ever understood this whacky tradition. Let’s crush some cake into my blushing bride’s face. See how well that goes over once the cameras are off and the guests are gone. Maybe that’s why so many couples freeze the top layer of their wedding cake to enjoy on their one-year anniversary — revenge. Pow! Shove that frozen puppy right in his kisser.

All I know is next time I get married, I am serving a huge flan. My groom can just try getting a grip on that! Wow. I am getting all worked up, and this is a Valentine’s Day column.

Back to Mémé’s wine cake … Mémé was my paternal grandmother — French, and all about love. She fell in love with my grandfather Albert when she was a small child wearing a blue ribbon in her hair and they were happily married for decades.

A real, true, honest-to-goodness, love story. Mémé’s food was from the heart, always, and this cake is no exception. The only thing peculiar about this cake is Mémé only spoke French, her recipes were not for lightweights and, yet, this recipe is, well, a piece of cake.

It even uses a box mix, which is another conundrum discussed among Mémé’s children and grandchildren. Mémé and a box mix? C’est impossible!

Our guess is maybe, sometime in the ‘60s or ‘70s, she read this recipe in an Enquirer magazine, which she swore by. Of course she did! She didn’t speak English. Oh well, regardless of its mystery origins, it is a truly special cake. Perfect for Valentine’s Day. Enjoy it gently.

Mémé’s Wine Cake Ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix

1 small box instant vanilla pudding

1/4 cup sherry wine

1 tsp. Nutmeg

eggs, oil and any other ingredients the cake mix requires for preparation

1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare cake mix per package instructions and add pudding mix, sherry and nutmeg. Mix well and pour into greased bundt or tube pan. Bake for one hour and 15 minutes. Sift powdered sugar over cake before cutting and serving.

Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at simonegrandmain@gmail.com.

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