The idea of buried treasure is so tantalizing. When something is sealed shut and opened later to reveal the contents, will one find riches or rags? Glittering jewels or clods of dirt?

Or, in our case, good wine or rot gut?

Pat Day of Ravenel called recently in search of an old article she remembered.

The subject was making muscadine wine. The method called for putting grapes in a jar with sugar, then burying the jar deep in the ground for a few months.

I looked for the article in our files to no avail. Prospects seemed dim. Then came a letter from Harriette Dodd of Round O, with a copy of a letter she clipped from this newspaper at some point.

The writer, Jim Way of Dorchester, said he had enjoyed a glass of homemade wine at a home while doing photography for the Upper Dorchester County Historical Society.

The homeowner provided the recipe:

Homemade Wine

Fill a 1-gallon wide-mouth jar with whole ripe grapes. Pour in 2 1/2 cups of sugar and shake it down. Tighten the top. Dig a hole in the ground 4 feet deep. Put the jar in the bottom and fill the hole. Wait 75 days, dig it up and pour.

Who knows? But the anticipation may be more tasty than the wine itself.

Larry Warren, who works in the engineering department at The Post and Courier, stopped by my desk and we talked about the mechanics of making such a wine. He suggested a post-hole digger and tying strong fishing line tightly around the lip of the jar, leaving the leader out of the hole. Unless you have a 4-foot-long arm, he pointed out, something would be needed to hoist the treasure up.

Imagine if you went to all that trouble and the jar was just out of arm's reach ...

Casual cakes

A Charleston caller asked for recipes for crumb cake and/or coffee cake.

Janice Clark of Charleston shares this recipe, which can be made in short order:

Quick Coffee Cake

For cake:

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup milk

For topping:

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

For cake: Sift dry ingredients together. Add egg, oil and milk, stirring until mixed. Pour into oiled 8x8-inch baking pan.

Mix together ingredients for topping. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Serve hot or cold. May freeze.

Peggy Joseph of Charleston offers a fruity version, a recipe from the "Gracious Goodness Charleston" cookbook. She says that any mixture of dried fruits can be used, or even cherries and pecans. She also notes that prunes also may be packaged as dried plums, which I suppose is more palatable to the ear.

Apricot Prune Coffee Cake

For streusel:

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

For cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots

3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried prunes

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix streusel topping in a small bowl and set aside. Grease and flour 10-inch tube pan.

For cake: In a small bowl combine the 3 cups flour, salt, soda and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter or margarine and sugar well. Gradually add eggs, one at a time. Beat until fluffy and light. Add vanilla.

Alternately beat in the flour mixture and the sour cream until all blended.

Coat the chopped apricots and prunes with the 2 tablespoons flour. Gradually fold them in the batter. Spoon 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the streusel mixture. Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle slivered almonds on top.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes until center comes out clean with toothpick. Let cool on wire rack 20 minutes before removing from pan.

Judy Seitz of Summerville, who used to teach home economics in Cincinnati, answered a couple of requests, including this one for coffee cake.

Cheese Streusel Coffeecake

For cake:

1 package (2 layers) yellow cake mix, divided

1 packet active dry yeast

1 cup flour

2 eggs

2/3 cup warm water

For cheese filling:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

2 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

For topping:

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

Remaining cake mix

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Use: Greased 13x9-inch pan or 2 round cake pans.

In large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the yellow cake mix with yeast, flour, eggs and water. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Spread thick batter in greased baking pan.

Blend together the ingredients from the cheese filling. Spread cheese filling over batter to cover.

Make topping by adding the butter to remaining yellow cake mix. Mix until crumbly and sprinkle over cheese filling. Sprinkle with the topping. Bake 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Fran Deane of Charleston supplies a recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Web site a while back. The source of the recipe is Sara Foster of Foster's Market in Durham, N.C.

New York Crumb Cake

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

For the crumbs:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

For the cake: Sift together the 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the egg, milk, canola oil and vanilla. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Spread batter evenly into a greased 9x12x 1/2-inch pan.

For the crumbs: In a medium bowl, combine the 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Melt the butter. Pour melted butter over flour mixture and toss with hands until large crumbs form.

Sprinkle crumbs over batter and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.

Cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Cut into 3-inch squares. Store in airtight container up to 3 days.

Also thanks to Lilly Feher of North Charleston, Kathey O'Connor of Mount Pleasant, Pat Cleary of Goose Creek and Eloise Gatch of Walterboro.

More wheying in

We briefly touched on uses for yogurt whey in last week's column. That generated new responses and recipes on a related subject.

When you drain off the liquid whey from yogurt over a sufficient amount of time, you're left with yogurt cheese. It's creamy and spreadable, and can be used as substitute for cream cheese or sour cream.

To that end, Barb Bowman of Moncks Corner sent a recipe which comes from the book, "Low Fat Living" by Robert K. and Leslie L. Cooper.

"This book contains many delicious low-fat recipes," Barb writes. "This spread is very easy to make and quite yummy."

Cucumber and Yogurt Spread (Greek tzatziki)

5 servings

2 cups nonfat plain yogurt

1 large cucumber, peeled

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 small cloves garlic, minced

Place the yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth or coffee filter. Place over a bowl and refrigerate; allow to drain for several hours or overnight.

Grate or finely chop the cucumber. Place in a colander, sprinkle with the salt and allow to drain for 20 minutes. Rinse and drain the cucumbers again, if desired. In a deep bowl, mix a small amount of the yogurt with the garlic. Stir in the remaining yogurt and fold in the cucumbers. Chill.

Spread on thick slices of hearty, whole-grain bread or serve with other vegetables or crackers as a dip.

Per serving: 55 calories, 0.2g total fat (3 percent of calories), 0g monounsaturated fat, 0g polyunsaturated fat, 0.1g saturated fat, 5.4g protein, 7.9g carbohydrates, 0g dietary fiber, 2mg cholesterol, 283mg sodium.

Judy Seitz adds to the yogurt cheese collection with this dip recipe, which she says is delicious with fruit.

Her notes on making "yogo cheese" provide additional tips:

--Use only regular yogurt, not light or fat-free, or the cheese won't work.

--If using flavored yogurt, mix it up first.

--Place a strainer over a bowl and put a coffee filter in the strainer. The container should be tall enough so the bottom of the strainer does not touch the whey as it drains. Pour the yogurt into the coffee filter/strainer.

--Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

--Allow to drain until you have the desired consistency; 8-12 hours for most uses; 14 or more hours for cream cheese consistency.

Fresh Fruit Dip

Makes 1 cup

1 cup vanilla yogurt cheese

2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

Combine orange juice and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add yogurt cheese, vanilla and almond extracts and stir well. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with fresh fruit.

Who's got the recipe?

--Kathleen Duncan of Charleston writes, "My mother-in-law has been trying to locate an Orange Cake her mother used to make. She says it is heavenly and all she remembers was that at the top of the recipe was written 'Orange Delight.' The orange frosting was cooked and had orange zest in it. Somehow all of Granny's recipes 'disappeared' after her death and Orange Delight was one of them. If anyone can help, it would be great. Granny lived in Greenville and High Point, N.C. I don't know where the original recipe hailed from."

--Elizabeth Brown of Charleston is seeking a recipe for a tomato casserole that included onion and yellow squash as well. She also would welcome recipes for tomato pie with cheese, but not too heavy on the mayonnaise.

--S. Wilkins of St. Stephen inquires about the tuna salad once made by a little deli called Basil's in the shopping center at Ashley Phosphate and Dorchester roads. "They made the best tuna salad that I have ever eaten. It is hard to describe the taste, but when you eat a tuna salad, you usually always have a little bit of an after taste to it. This tuna salad did not do that. It had a little hint of a sweet taste. I think that they used a homemade Thousand Island dressing to mix it up with." Other ingredients included eggs, onions, pickles, celery and pimientos, she believes.