If there was Sherry Wine Cake on the table, the Young family knew it was a jovial occasion.
“This was always a happy cake,” Kevin Young said on a recent night inside the Scranton home he shares with his wife, Lisa. “If you came back to the house after a wedding or it was a birthday, this was what we ate. This cake is for celebrating.”
The late Anna Olechna Young learned the family recipe as a young woman, much like her several sisters, and carried on the tradition when she had her own family. Everybody has tried their hand at the recipe, including Lisa Young, who keeps her mother-in-law’s famous dessert in her own repertoire.
It’s only fitting the cake holds so many good memories as today it supports a heart-warming cause. Thanks to the Youngs’ Sherry Wine Cake, PAWSitiviely for the Animals, the organization the couple co-founded with fellow animal lovers, earned a $50 gift card from Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore, through Local Flavor Gives Back. Kevin Young serves as vice president and Lisa Young as treasurer of the animal group along with president Janet Garvey; secretary Jeanie Sluck; Lynette Labukas and Caryle Bruno.
There’s no real secret to the recipe, Kevin Young said, through it took some time to nail down the proper amount of each ingredient.
“(Our mother) never wrote any recipes down,” Kevin Young said, adding they consulted other family members on ingredients and amounts.
Kevin Young and his sister, Mary Ann Garvey, noted their mom would dust the cake with powdered sugar, while Lisa Young created a sugar and milk glaze to drizzle on top of the cake. She also embellished it with sprinkles, cherries and holly leaves.
This is a quintessential holiday cake. The sherry flavor provided a nice bite while the sweet cherries and crunchy nuts gave the cake a perfect texture. Homemade glaze added ideal sweetness.
The cause behind the dessert is just as sweet. PAWSitively for the Animals came about a few years ago with a specific mission: to keep pets with their owners and, most importantly, out of shelters.
PFTA still helps out local shelters, but the organization primarily intervenes when a person or family is in danger of losing a pet. Its services include low-cost spay/neuter programs, the Four-Legged Food Bank, an emergency assistance fund and education regarding responsible pet ownership.
“For instance, if an elderly person is moving into a low-cost apartment and must have their pet spayed and neutered but can’t afford it, we’re there to help,” Kevin Young said. “Or, if a pet needs emergency surgery but the family can’t afford it, that’s where we come in.”
Fundraising efforts include the Howl-O-Ween Pet Parade and a Putts for Paws golf tournament in October, a pet supply drive in February, and pet photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Taylor Library and Plow and Hearth during the holidays. Members also meet with legislators and apply for grants to raise as much money for the cause as possible, and donations are always needed.
“It’s just amazing to know the community and other organizations are recognizing what you do,” Lisa Young said.
In the past few years, Kevin Young estimated, PFTA has helped hundreds of pet owners throughout the region keep their furry friends — from dogs and cats to even horses — with their families.
“If we can reach one person or just keep one pet with their owner, we’ve done our job,” he said. “There’s so many organizations out there to help people who need it, but the animals are sometimes forgotten about. We’re here for them.”
How to help
To donate or for more information, visit pawsitivelyfortheanimals.org. Checks made out to Pawsitively for the Animals may be sent to 3265 Greenwood Ave., Scranton, PA 18505.
Kevin and Lisa Young’s Sherry Wine Cake
For the cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 box vanilla instant pudding
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup cream sherry wine
1/2 pint sour cream
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a tube or Bundt pan.
Combine cake mix, pudding, eggs, oil, sour cream and wine in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until all ingredients are blended. Add nuts, cherries and a little cherry juice from jar. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.
For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Add additional milk or sugar to obtain desired consistency.
Sprinkle cake with powdered sugar or drizzle with glaze. Decorate with sprinkles and more to your liking.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT