Friday, November 15, 2013

Blackberry Wine Cake

Day 50 

The first professional job of my teaching career was a Godsend. I worked in a small private school with a kind, generous, and helpful group of people who taught me so much that I still use on a daily basis, 16 years later. One lady with whom I worked was quite a bit older when we were colleagues, but we had a very special past connection because she had also been my first and fifth grade teacher. As a teacher, Mrs. Cooper was of that older, no-nonsense generation of instruction that was strict and demanding. As students, we respected her and worked hard to meet her academic demands.
Copyright 2013, Doug Kapustin Photography
She was the best kind of teacher, truth be told. This remarkable lady was also a gentle spirit who truly cared about her students. Mrs. Cooper was the sort of teacher and colleague that made everyone more confident and ready to face any challenge. Just knowing her made all of us—co-workers and students alike— feel empowered. Although she has passed on now, I have many fond memories of her.

Once, for a potluck meal at work years ago, Mrs. Cooper made a blackberry wine cake that was sinfully rich and delicious. She shared the recipe with anyone who wanted it, and I made it right away. Over the years, the recipe somehow made it to the back of my recipe collection, and I had almost forgotten about it.  What a mistake that was!

I received a letter from my aunt Sarah recently, who shared the recipe again with me, after she had tried it for her weekly dessert. So many memories came rushing back when I saw Ms. Cooper’s potluck contribution, and I simply had to make it again.  It was tremendous; even better than I remembered, I’m happy to report. The fruity, tangy flavor of fermented blackberries and vanilla are pleasantly overwhelming to the senses. They present an explosion of flavor. 

I hope you’ll try this one. The fact that it uses a cake mix and jello powder makes it easier to make for a last minute function or family dessert. If you tend to prefer from-scratch cakes, I’d venture to say that you would be happy to take a preference detour for this one.  I recommend some vanilla ice cream and fresh sugared blackberries to make a berry shortcake, but even plain, it’s delicious. You can use any blackberry wine that you like, but Manischewitz is a really good choice for this one. 

Here’s to you, Ms. Cooper, for sharing this cake with your friends and colleagues all those years ago, and for being a truly admirable lady. I know I speak for everyone when I say that we truly miss you. 

And, what better time to dedicate a recipe than on my 50th entry! Bon appétit! 

Blackberry Wine Cake

1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix
1 box blackberry flavored jello
4 eggs, beaten
¾ cup canola oil 
1 cup blackberry wine (Manischewitz works nicely)
1 tsp. vanilla

For glaze: 
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup blackberry wine
2 tsp. melted butter
1-3 tsp. milk, as needed 

In a mixer, blend the eggs, oil, and wine. Add jello, vanilla, and cake mix. Mix well. Pour into greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until knife in center comes out clean. 

Cool on wire rack. 

To make glaze, mix butter, wine, and sugar until glaze forms. Add milk one teaspoon at a time, and ONLY if you need it to make the glaze thinner. The glaze should be able to pour but should be thick. You might not need any milk at all. 


  1. Shortly after you shared this recipe with me several years ago, I attempted to find blackberry gelatin. As I recall, I had to settle for raspberry or another flavor substitute after a search at several grocery stores stocked no blackberry-flavored gelatin. As you said, the recipe eventually "made it to the back of my recipe collection," but you have restored my determination to search again to find the blackberry gelatin and break out the Manischewitz blackberry wine which has been languishing for several years for lack of companionship in the Jello department of the local supermarket. Thank you, Margaret, for renewing this recipe to the forefront of my repertoire.

    1. you can find blackberry gelatin at Ingles grocery stores it you haven't found them yet. hopefully u have those stores in your area

  2. Thanks Mrs. Fowler, for sharing that memory. Finding blackberry jello is still a challenge, but we have it here if you can't find it there. I hope it turns out, and let me know if I should mail you jello!