Friday, August 2, 2013

Sherry Cake

There was once a little cake that people just couldn't get enough of; correction...they still can't get enough of.  With the super elegant taste that it has you would never believe it is such a simple cake to make.  And using a boxed mix no less.

During the late seventies when my dear friend Tyra and I owned a little tea room in Midland, Texas this cake was always in high demand.

Tyra's mother Helen passed the recipe on to us.  It was given to her by a young man who was in culinary school in San Antonio.  Over the decades I have run across a gazillion people who have this recipe or something similar.  A co-worker of mine brings the exact same cake to work except he uses rum.  I'm actually surprised that I don't see it more often.

Enough of the history lesson, it's simply the greatest cake you can make and take anywhere for any occasion.

Simple ingredients:  yellow cake mix, vanilla instant pudding, eggs, water, canola oil, and dry sherry. 

A word on a couple of the ingredients if I may. 
Cake Mix - buy the yellow butter recipe
Pudding - make sure it is instant; also, if you can't find regular vanilla, I have used French Vanilla. 
Sherry - please make sure it is d-r-y; you don't need  an expensive sherry but make sure it's dry; and never use cooking sherry!!
Eggs - I crack my eggs into a bowl before adding to a recipe.  Trust me, if you have ever cracked an egg into a recipe and it turned out to be rotten, you might not crack another egg in your life.


This is why it's so easy...just dump everything but the nuts in the mixing bowl and mix.

 Begin by mixing on low for about 30 seconds to stir everything together

Now flip the switch to medium high and beat for about 2 minutes until the batter is soft and fluffy

Fold in the pecans

Prepare a Bundt pan by spraying well with vegetable spray and pour in the batter.

Here's what gives this cake it's 'wow factor'.  A sherry sauce made of sugar, butter and, what a surprise, dry sherry!

It's very important that the sauce be heated up slowly and boiled briskly for 2 minutes only.  Any time I've had trouble turning this cake out of the pan is when I did not let the sugar dissolve completely or I boiled the sauce for too long and it got to a soft ball stage and hardened too much while cooling in the pan.  The making of the sauce is timed so that it boils for two minutes prior to the cake coming out of the oven.  That's because the minute you take the cake out of the oven, you do this..

Pour the boiling sauce over the just-out-of-the-oven cake and watch it boil right into the cake.  The heat of the cake and the heat of the sauce just explode into bubbles.  See the wax paper under the cooling rack?  I put that there to catch any of the sauce that may boil over; just easier to clean up.

Oh my goodness, I wish you could scratch and sniff this photo; it is a-m-a-z-i-n-g.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan for thirty minutes so it can soak up all of that glorious sauce.

After the cooling time in the pan the cake will have soaked up all of that boozy, sugary sauce.

Turn the cake out on another cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.  Warning:  although the cake has been cooling in the pan for 30 minutes, the pan is still really hot.  So, take precautions when you turn it out of the pan.

Eat it warm, room temperature or cold; it will not disappoint.  Personally, I like it warm.  Cut a slice, pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds and it will taste like it just came out of the oven.

This cake freezes well too.  I have successfully frozen it whole and as individually sliced pieces.

Sherry Cake
Serves 12

For the Cake -

1 yellow butter recipe cake mix
1 3.4 ounce box vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup chopped pecans

For the Sauce -

1 stick salted butter (4 oz.)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dry sherry

Mise en place:
  • empty cake mix and instant pudding into mixing bowl
  • measure out water, oil and sherry
  • break eggs into bowl
  • chop pecans

Pre-heat oven to 325 °F.  Add eggs, water, oil, and sherry to the dry ingredients that are in the mixing bowl.  Mix on low for 30 seconds until all ingredients are wet.  With spatula, sweep sides of bowl and mix ingredients on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.  Fold in pecans.

Spray Bundt pan with vegetable spray.  Pour cake batter into pan.  In a circular motion drag a knife through batter around the center of the pan to break any air bubbles and even out the batter.  Place on rack in middle of oven and bake for one hour.

Place a piece of wax paper on cabinet top and place a cooling rack on top of the wax paper. You want the wax paper there in case the sherry sauce over flows.

While cake is baking, prepare sauce.  In a small saucepan place butter, sugar and sherry.  Set a timer to 2 minutes but don't start it yet.  Begin melting and dissolving ingredients over low heat. 

Here is where you want to find your timing.  With my cook top I start dissolving the sauce over low heat when the cake has about 9 minutes left to cook.  With a small whisk, stir as ingredients are dissolving.  When sauce begins to boil turn on your pre-set timer and whisk constantly.  If it begins to overflow lift the saucepan off the fire until the foaming subsides then set it back on the fire.

When the timer for the cake goes off and the tester stick comes out clean, remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack.  Slowly begin to pour the sherry sauce over the top of the cake.  It will boil and bubble so try to distribute around the top of the cake evenly.

Allow cake to cool in pan for 30 minutes.  Turn cake out on another cooling rack to completely cool.