Boiled Raisin Cake – a 1940s Recipe


One of my Christmas gifts in 2011 was a small 4-½ x 6 inch leather bound book engraved “Cooking Recipes”, purchased in Sugar Creek, Ohio.  The pages are edged in gold and there are 10 index tabs for food categories.  The real gold in this book, though, is the collection of handwritten recipes.  There aren’t a lot of recipes – just 25, 22 of which are desserts.  There is also a page where a child scrawled – Mama probably wasn’t too happy with that.  

The book itself could have been from the 1930s, but I believe the recipes are from the 1945-1950 era.  This is based on a lot of recipes calling for shortening, for using the word “oleo” rather than margarine and the attention given to oven temperatures.  I believe it’s post-World War II because of all of the sugar-laden desserts.  

The handwriting is clear and ingredients are listed correctly, although most of the recipes give no idea of how the item is to be prepared, what kind of pan to use or how long to bake.  That’s why I’ve decided to make each of the recipes, using the products specified, and adding my own instructions.  I like to think that the woman from the 1940s kitchen (who would have been about my mother’s age) would enjoy having someone fuss around with these recipes again and turn out some delicious food for the family.

This cake was new to me and since no directions were given with the recipe, I checked out the internet and found it appears to have been a favorite cake of a lot of people.  It’s a rather plain cake – I made half of the recipe and added a glaze which many on the internet remembered their grandma adding to the cake.  I would consider this a lunch or supper cake – satisfying but not too rich.



  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ¼ cup oleo (margarine)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-¾ cups all-purpose flour


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Approx. 2 Tblsp. Milk

Grease and flour a 9-inch loaf pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a large saucepan, place sugar, hot water, shortening, margarine, raisins, cinnamon and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for one minute longer.

Remove from heat and immediately stir in baking soda – it will foam up.  Allow to cool.

When cool, add flour and beat for 2 minutes by hand right in the pan.

Pour into a greased and floured 9-inch loaf pan and bake @ 350 degrees F for approximately 50-55 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let set in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes.

Loosen sides and remove from pan to continue cooling on rack.

Mix together the powdered sugar, cinnamon and milk to make a thick glaze.  When cake is cool, spoon glaze over top and allow to drizzle down the sides of the cake.

Makes one 9-inch loaf cake


Cranberry Cake and Brandy Sauce

This dessert was adapted from a recipe on  I first made it for Christmas dinner in 2004 and my daughter and I loved it.  The original was for a large bundt cake and I cut the recipe in half to make this version which I bake in an antique 7-inch tube pan.  It could also be baked in a 9-inch loaf pan.



  • 3 Tblsp. butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
  • 6 oz fresh cranberries


  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tblsp. brandy

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease/flour 7-inch tube pan or 9-inch loaf pan.

To make the cake
In a large bowl cream butter and sugar.  In a medium bowl mix together dry ingredients.  Beat flour mixture into creamed mixture alternately with evaporated milk, beginning and ending with flour.   Stir in cranberries.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 50-60 minutes @ 325 degrees F until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (loaf pan may take longer).

Let cool in pan 10 minutes then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

To make the sauce:
In a small pan combine the butter, sugar and cream.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in brandy.  Drizzle warm sauce over slices of cake.

The sauce is quite rich and this amount is just right for drizzling over 6 individual slices of cake.

6 servings

Fresh Blueberry Teacakes

These little teacakes are just right to serve with cold lemonade on a hot summer day.   They are not as thick as muffins and make a nice afternoon snack.


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (Canola)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 tsp. granulated sugar for sprinkling tops

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Lightly oil or line a 12-cup cupcake tin

Note:  There is no milk in this recipe

In large mixing bowl whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Place blueberries in a bowl.  Measure the flour and from this, take two tablespoons of flour to mix with blueberries.

In medium bowl mix remaining flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to oil mixture, stirring just enough to blend.  Stir in the blueberries gently.

Spoon mixture into greased or lined muffin tins.  The mixture will be thick. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.

Bake @ 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.  Let pan cool on rack for 3-4 minutes, then remove cakes to rack to cool.

Yield:  12 teacakes

Light Pineapple Cheesecake

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we have our traditional leftover dish – Turkey Tetrazzini.  I was looking for a dessert that would be completely different from the rich food we have been eating since Thursday.  I found this recipe on and it fit the bill perfectly.  It is light-tasting and light in calories – 207 calories based on 9 servings.



  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, cut into small cubes


  • 8 oz. can crushed pineapple
  • 8 oz. package low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

To make the crust:

In an ungreased 8-inch baking pan, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Rub  in the butter with your fingertips until mixture is crumbly.

Press the mixture onto the bottom of the 8-inch pan.

Bake @ 325 degrees F for 12 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

To make the filling:

Drain the pineapple, pressing down to remove as much juice as possible, reserving the juice (there should be about 1/2 cup of juice); set pineapple and juice aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour.  Add the egg and mix until smooth.  Add the pineapple juice.  Gradually add the milk and vanilla.

Sprinkle the drained pineapple over the baked crust.

Slowly pour the filling over the pineapple.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake @ 325 degrees F for one hour or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack to room temperature.

Cake is good served at room temperature or chilled.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Yield:  9 servings

Concord Grape Upside-down Cake

I have a large collection of vintage cookbooks and enjoy just leafing through one now and then – looking at the old pictures and glancing at recipes as I go.  Occasionally,  a recipe will jump out at me and that was the case with one in a 1942 Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book.  This wasn’t one of the recipes published in the book, but rather one that had been chosen by the magazine from readers’ entries.  It was from a lady in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1948.  I love Concord grapes but have only made pie or jam with them.  Here was a chance to use some in a cake and I was eager to try.

I knew from previous experience that it takes a little time to prepare the grapes, but only one pound isn’t  that much to work with.  Removing the skins is simple – just make a little tear in the skin near the stem end and press the pulp out.

Having a food mill is a real time saver, but it’s also possible to put the cooked pulp through any kind of sieve or strainer.  The flavor of the grapes makes it all worthwhile.

This is my adaptation of a great old recipe.


Grape Topping:

  • 1 lb. Concord grapes
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar

Cake Batter:

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tblsp. cake flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

To make the grape topping:

Separate the grape skins from the pulp and set the skins aside.  Place the pulp in a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the pulp to a boil.  Then lower the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pulp is soft and juicy.

Sieve or run through a food mill to remove seeds.

Return the pulp to the saucepan and add the skins.  Stir in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.  Cook until the skins are tender, about 15 minutes.

There should be approximately 1 cup of pulp.

At this point the pulp can be used to make the cake, can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or can be frozen and then thawed for later baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.

To make the cake batter:

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Mix well, then add the shortening, milk, egg and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour into a well-greased 8×8 baking pan.  Spread the grape pulp mixture over the top of the batter – it will start to sink.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 45 minutes until top is golden brown.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes,

then invert onto a large plate.  Scrape any topping left in the bottom of the pan and spread over the top of the cake.

Serve warm and add whipped cream or topping if desired.

This is a very good cake and not as rich and sweet as most upside-down cakes.

Servings:  6 to 8

Banana Mocha Snack Cake

topperOver 20 years ago, I copied the recipe for this cake from a 1986 Dole Banana flyer.  Today, I just got around to making it with a few of my own touches.  This is a very good, not too-rich, satisfying snack cake with a strong coffee flavor.  It’s an easy cake to mix – everything is put together in a baking dish.


  • 2 ripe bananas (1 cup mashed)
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tblsp. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tblsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a small bowl, blend mashed banana and instant espresso coffee powder.

In an ungreased 9″ baking pan, combine flour, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Blend well with a fork.  Make a well in the center.

In a cup or shaker, mix together the egg, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract.  Pour this into the well in the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until well blended.


Smooth out the batter in the baking pan and bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

When completely cool, frost the top with Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting:


  • 3 Tblsp. butter, softened
  • 2 Tblsp. cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup toasted almond slivers

Beat the butter and cream cheese together, add confectioners’ sugar, instant espresso coffee powder and vanilla extract.  Beat until well blended.  Frost top of cooled cake.

Sprinkle with toasted almond slivers.


This would be a nice cake to take on a picnic or to a barbecue – or just enjoy at the kitchen table with a big glass of ice cold milk.


Favorite Banana Cake


I found the recipe for this cake  in a magazine in 1986 and the cake became a family favorite.   I have a note in my recipe binder, “Excellent.  Won Blue Ribbon at Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati).  Took to work and Matt (my boss) said it was an ‘exceptionally good cake’ – about the best anyone could get from him.”


  • 1 cup plus 2 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. banana extract (actually, banana flavoring)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana

*A substitute for buttermilk:  Place 1 Tblsp. of white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup.  Fill with milk to the 1/2 cup line.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes before using.

Grease and flour an 8″ cake pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a small bowl combine mashed banana and milk.  Set aside.

In large bowl of mixer, cream shortening and sugar.  Add the egg and beat in the vanilla and banana extracts.

Add the dry ingredients alternately with the banana mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients – beat well after each addition.

Pour into prepared pan and bake @ 350 degrees  F for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.


Frost with Banana Cream Cheese Frosting:


  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 oz. butter
  • Approx. 2 cups  confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. banana extract (flavoring)

In mixer bowl cream butter and cream cheese.  Add extract and then add confectioners’ sugar a small amount at a time, beating until smooth and of spreading consistency.

frostedYield:  6 pieces of delicious cake.


Strawberry-Rhubarb Upside-Down-Cake

For 20 years, we lived in the country where my husband grew all kinds of fruits and vegetables.  One of my favorites was rhubarb, so when we relocated to a smaller house and yard almost 7 years ago, I planted some rhubarb and have some to use throughout the summer – plenty for one person.  But in 1989 when we had a lot of home-grown everything, I tried some different ways of using rhubarb and won a ribbon for this cake at the Ohio State Fair.


  • 6 Tlbsp. butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1-3/4 cup sliced rhubarb
  • 3/4 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • Whipped cream and fresh strawberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt butter in a 9″ skillet.  I like to use a 50+ year-old cast iron skillet for this.

Stir in brown sugar.

Lightly mix together the rhubarb and strawberries.

Arrange the rhubarb and strawberries over the top of the butter/brown sugar mixture.  Note:  Don’t do as I did once and try to increase the amount of fresh strawberries – it makes the topping too juicy.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In large bowl of electric mixer, cream shortening, sugar and egg.  Add dry ingredients and milk alternately, starting and ending with dry ingredients, beating after each addition.  Add vanilla and blend.  Spread batter over the fruit.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until top of cake is golden brown and cake tests done when a toothpick is inserted in the center.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto large serving plate.  If some of the fruit sticks to the pan, just scrape it out while it is still warm and add to the top of the cake.

Let cake cool to room temperature and serve with some whipped cream and a couple of fresh strawberries.

This makes a really nice summertime dessert.

One Serving Pineapple Upside-down Cakes


I was first introduced to pineapple upside-down cake by my mother-in-law 55 years ago.  I liked her cake which was made with crushed pineapple but thought it was a little bland.  I was looking for something gooey, buttery and rich and found a recipe in a magazine that seemed to be about right.  The first cakes I made back in the 1950s were baked in a skillet or large pan and often included maraschino cherries in the center of the pineapple slices.  Later, my youngest daughter Shannon and my husband battled over who got the sticky, sweet edges so I started making individual cakes with plenty of edges for each person.  Here is the current version.

One Serving Pineapple Upside-down Cakes

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place butter, baking powder, vanilla, sugar, flour and salt in mixer bowl.  Beat for 1 minute on medium speed.  Add milk and egg, beat for another minute on medium speed.

For pineapple topping:

Drain one 15 oz. can of sliced pineapple.  In each of 8 miniature loaf pans (5x2x1-1/2″ deep), place one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of dark brown sugar.  Place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts and stir the sugar around to dissolve it.  Cut pineapple slice in half and place the two halves on top of the sugar/butter mixture.

Pour the cake batter over the pineapple, place the 8 loaf pans on a large cookie sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes @ 350 degrees.  When you take the pans from the oven, immediately flip them over onto a large tray or individual plates and let cool a few minutes before removing the pans.

Makes 8 delicious little cakes.