This wine cake recipe is a recreation of one of my mom’s signature bakes from my childhood! Made with port or sherry for just the tiniest hint of booze, this version nixes the boxed cake mix for a plush, homemade vanilla cake baked in a bundt pan.
Wine cake was often made for bake sales, or occasionally for when people came over. After letting the steaming, craggy-bottomed cake cool in the pan, we would breathlessly unearth the whole cake by plopping it upside down on a plate and dust the top with a gentle cloud of powdered sugar.
The ridges of our bundt cake dictated the size of each slice (alternating thick and thin). The thick pieces were far superior not only for the obvious size difference, but also because of the greater surface area of browned, crisp-yet-tender crust that formed around the pale wine-scented interior. (The alcohol bakes out leaving behind the mildest of flavors, don’t worry!). I always ate the middle part in short geometric fork strokes, leaving the caramelized crusts for last.
In order to make a from-scratch version, I used this recipe as my inspiration to replicate a boxed mix cake from scratch. I also took inspiration from this DIY instant pudding mix and added a smidge more sugar and cornstarch to act as the pudding replacer.
In the end, the cake turned out so well! Maybe it was just my imagination, but I think the from-scratch version cake had a more natural, less synthetic-buttery taste to it. The crust was also crisper (major bonus!) and though I have to admit the crumb was slightly less fine, there’s still a really fresh and plush tenderness to it.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- From scratch ingredients: Our original family wine cake recipe uses yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding mix and Orville Redenbacher Butter Flavor Oil. While I love the nostalgic flavors, this homemade version uses standard pantry ingredients!
- Simple to make and decorate: Though I love a frosted cake, this cake is simple and perfect served with just a dusting of powdered sugar.
- Reverse creaming for a fine crumb: It’s difficult to perfectly replicate the velvety crumb of boxed cake mix, but the reverse creaming technique helps! Working the fat INTO the dry ingredients helps coat the flour in fat, limiting gluten development and resulting in a moist, tender cake.
How to make wine cake from scratch
Making this wine cake is almost as easy as making it from a box! It can be made in under 20 minutes using the following steps:
Step 1: Mix the dry ingredients and incorporate the butter. You can either do this in a stand mixer (my preference) or by hand. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Then you can use either a paddle attachment or your fingers to mix in the softened butter until the mixture resembles slightly damp sand. This is the reverse creaming step!
Step 2: Combine the wet and dry ingredients: In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and wine. Gently stir wet mixture into dry ingredients until just combined with no floury streaks.
Step 3: Bake: Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan (a standard 10-12 cup capacity works well). Bake for 45-55 minutes at 350 degrees, or until inserted tester comes out clean.
This cake will keep, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to a week. It will also freeze relatively well for several weeks, wrapped well.
This cake makes for great holiday baking and gifting. Please make sure to leave a star rating if you tried this recipe–I’d love to hear your feedback. Enjoy!
Wine Cake From Scratch
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into chunks and softened to room temperature
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¾ cup dessert wine port or sherry–we use port
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Using a paddle attachment (or your fingers), add the softened butter and mix until no large clumps remain and the mixture resembles slightly damp sand.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and wine. Gently stir wet mixture into dry ingredients until just combined with no floury streaks.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes at 350 degrees, or until inserted tester comes out clean.