9/24/22

Raisin Cake

A vintage Depression-Era snack cake made with raisins, molasses and cozy spices without any eggs, milk or butter that’s super moist and perfectly sweet.

JUMP TO RECIPE

Husband often waxes poetic about the sweet treats of his Canadian childhood. He recalls the iconic Butter Tarts (that I’ve yet to make as good as his mom’s), Jim Jam Cookies (made them, nailed them, love them), A&P’s Spanish Bar (no way I’m even trying to recreate it) and something called Boiled Raisin Cake.

I was doing some research on the Spanish Bar to see if I thought I could make it but it seems to be somewhat of a unicorn that I couldn’t begin to make since I’ve never even seen or eaten one. I think screwing up the vintage A&P Spanish Bar would be a punishable offense to anyone who’s ever loved it.

Which lead me down Husband’s list to the Boiled Raisin Cake. That doesn’t even sound good, does it? Notice I left out the boiled part of the name in mine?

Raisin Cake! A vintage Depression-Era snack cake made with raisins, molasses and cozy spices without any eggs, milk or butter that’s super moist and perfectly sweet.

I was going to ask my MIL for the recipe but she doesn’t have any written recipes and tells me stuff like, just mix in flour until it looks right so I consulted the internet instead.

I found lots of cake recipes that are all almost the same but with various names: Boiled Raisin, Depression-Era Raisin, Poor Man’s Cake and Old-Fashioned Raisin. I stuck with the basics (they’re all almost the same) then spiced it to my taste and added molasses. 

The references to The Depression (and “poor man”) come from this being one of the recipes that emerged during the World Wars and The Depression that are made without any butter, milk or eggs since those ingredients were being rationed, were unavailable or people just couldn’t afford them.

Raisin Cake! A vintage Depression-Era snack cake made with raisins, molasses and cozy spices without any eggs, milk or butter that’s super moist and perfectly sweet.

The raisins are boiled to rehydrate and plump them up a bit and also to extract their rich, deep flavor into the cake.

I was genuinely shocked at how much I loved this cake. I made THREE of them the first week. I’ve never bought so many raisins in my life.

Some of the recipes I saw had icing or glaze but I’m telling you, this cake does not need anything extra.

Raisin Cake! A vintage Depression-Era snack cake made with raisins, molasses and cozy spices without any eggs, milk or butter that’s super moist and perfectly sweet.

One of the last steps in making the cake is to mix baking soda with a little water then pour it into the wet ingredients which MAKES IT FOAM UP and take on this glossy sheen which can be seen on top of the baked cake.

It’s gorgeous. It’s brilliant. It’s perfect. I love it.

The raisins do sink a little while the cake is baking. I’m 100% fine with it but did want to let you know so you don’t think you did something wrong. I suppose you could use less water, add more flour or bake this hotter and faster but I just love everything about the cake so much I don’t want to change the recipe.

Raisin Cake! A vintage Depression-Era snack cake made with raisins, molasses and cozy spices without any eggs, milk or butter that’s super moist and perfectly sweet.

NOTES ABOUT MAKING THIS OLD-FASHIONED RAISIN CAKE

  • Don’t fret too much over the spices. If you’re out of nutmeg or don’t like ginger or whatever, just use what you have and what you like. 
  • Feel free to add chopped pecans or walnuts! I have added pecans and loved the results. I use about one heaping cup.
  • Yes, both the baking powder and baking soda are needed. This is a dense, heavy batter which requires a lot of help from the leavening agents to rise, especially since there are no eggs in the recipe. You can’t use too much baking powder or baking soda in a recipe without having bad results, so you do actually need to use both in this recipe.
  • If you’re out of or just don’t like molasses, simply omit it. You could substitute dark corn syrup if desired but I think other alternatives (sorghum, agave, maple syrup, etc.) would be too thin.

Recipe for Raisin Cake

Raisin Cake! A vintage Depression-Era snack cake made with raisins, molasses and cozy spices without any eggs, milk or butter that’s super moist and perfectly sweet.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I have. It’s one of my favorites now!

Check out Husband’s beloved Jim Jam Cookies too! They have a spice cake thing going on with raspberry jam in the middle and, if you think you’ll like this Raisin Cake, you’ll definitely like the cookies too!! 

Raisin Cake

Raisin Cake
Yield: 16 Servings
Author: Mandy Rivers | South Your Mouth
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 40 MinTotal time: 50 Min
A vintage Depression-Era snack cake made with raisins, molasses and cozy spices without any eggs, milk or butter that’s super moist and perfectly sweet.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x9 baking pan or spray with cooking spray. Optional: line pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil to easily remove cake from pan.
  2. Combine brown sugar, water, oil, molasses, raisins, salt and spices in a saucepan then heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Once boiling, cook for 1 minute then remove from heat.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl then whisk to combine, breaking up any clumps of flour. Set aside.
  4. Mix water with baking soda in a small cup until baking soda has dissolved then stir into raisin mixture (it will foam up – don’t worry, it’s supposed to!)
  5. Pour raisin mixture into bowl with flour then stir until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared 9 X 9 pan then bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through (test with toothpick if needed).
  7. Cool in pan then cut into squares.
  8. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container.

Notes

  • Don’t fret too much over the spices. If you’re out of nutmeg or don’t like ginger or whatever, just use what you have and what you like. 
  • Feel free to add chopped pecans or walnuts! I have added pecans and loved the results. I use about one heaping cup.
  • Yes, both the baking powder and baking soda are needed. This is a dense, heavy batter which requires a lot of help from the leavening agents to rise, especially since there are no eggs in the recipe. You can’t use too much baking powder or baking soda in a recipe without having bad results, so you do actually need to use both in this recipe.
  • If you’re out of or just don’t like molasses, simply omit it. You could substitute dark corn syrup if desired but I think other alternatives (sorghum, agave, maple syrup, etc.) would be too thin.
boiled, poor man's, vintage, old-fashioned, raisin cake, depression, era, wacky, crazy, no, without, cake, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, molasses, best, moist, recipe, how to, why, snack cake, no icing, no frosting, no eggs
dessert
american
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5 comments:

  1. Wasn't sure about this cake because I'm not crazy about raisins but...this looks and sounds delicious! I will definitely have to buy some raisins and make this cake. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bunnyswarmoven.net has a copy cat recipe for A & P's Spanish Bar Cake. Yes they were addictive.

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  3. Spanish bars? I’m Canadian I’ve never heard of this now you have me curious what they are! I need a good boiled raisin cake recipe my mom has passed and I don’t have hers and my husband loves that cake so I’m gonna give yours a try ,thank you!

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    Replies
    1. So Spanish Bars were this absolutely delicious little bar cake A&P Grocery Store used to sell. My family ate them all through the 60s and they were always a treat. They had a white thick icing. I have tried to make them, but never could find the true A&P recipe. I have tried several, but just not the same. Maybe this is the one! Hope this helps!

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  4. I made this cake & loved it! It goes great with coffee. I just sprinkled a little bit of powdered sugar on top to intice my kids to eat & it worked, lol.

    ReplyDelete

Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy