Boiled Raisin Cake – a 1940s Recipe

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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.

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BOILED RAISIN CAKE - A 1940s RECIPE

  • 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

GLAZE

  • 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.
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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.

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

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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.

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Makes one 9-inch loaf cake

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Spice Cake – a 1940s Recipe

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a small 4-½ x 6 inch leather bound book engraved “Cooking Recipes”, purchased at an antique mall 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.  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 in most recipes 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.

I made this Spice Cake twice because I misread the handwriting in the book and used too much vinegar the first time.  I also thought apple cider vinegar would work well but it didn’t. This cake is what I would call a weekday-supper cake.  It’s easy to mix, spicy, and a good cake – just not a Sunday dinner cake.

SPICE CAKE

  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour*
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup soft shortening

*Substitute for cake flour:  For each cup of cake flour, Place 2 Tblsp. cornstarch in a one-cup dry measure.  Fill to the top with all-purpose flour.

My vintage Swansdown cake flour scoop

Have all ingredients at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Grease and flour two 9-inch layer cake pans

In a large mixer bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together for one minute:

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg.  Add gradually to the egg/sugar mixture until the dry ingredients are absorbed.

In a one-cup liquid measure combine the vinegar, milk and vanilla.

Add one-half of the milk mixture along with the shortening to the mixer bowl and beat for one minute.

Add the remaining milk mixture and beat for one additional minute.

Pour into the two prepared 9 inch layer pans …

….and bake @ 375 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.

Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn cakes out onto the rack to continue to cool completely.

The recipe didn’t specify a frosting, so I used the only one in the book (for Peppermint Candy Cake and left out the crushed candy).  It’s a basic frosting that my mother would have called “butter cream icing”.

FROSTING

  • ¼ cup softened margarine
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 3-4 tsp. milk
  • ¼ cup pecans (for topping)

Beat together the margarine, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Gradually add 3-4 tsp. milk until frosting is of a good spreading consistency.

Frost the top of the bottom cake layer.

Place the top layer on and frost the sides, then the top of the cake.  Place pecan halves on the top of the cake.

6 to 8 servings

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Cider Sauce

This is my take on a two-ingredient pumpkin/cake mix cake that is making the rounds of food blogs.  I didn’t have yellow cake mix and used chocolate fudge instead with the addition of some pumpkin pie spices.  The sauce is a simple confectioners’ sugar mixture using apple cider or apple juice.

This is a really nice dessert and 5 Weight Watchers Points/Plus based on 15 servings.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CAKE WITH CIDER SAUCE

For the Cake:

  • 18.25 box of chocolate cake mix (Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge)
  • 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger

For the Sauce:

  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tblsp. apple cider*
  • Approx. 1 Tblsp. warm water

Preheat oven @ 350 degrees F

Grease a 9×13 baking pan

To make the cake:

Place the contents of the boxed cake mix, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger into a large mixer bowl and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed.

Spoon batter into a greased  9×13 baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Do not overbake.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack.

To make the Glaze:

Combine powdered sugar, apple cider*, and warm water to make a smooth sauce.

*If you are lucky enough to have Boiled Cider on hand, it makes a tangy, full flavored sauce.  I bought mine online at King Arthur Flour.

While still warm, cut cake into 15 squares.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a tablespoon of the Cider Sauce.

Servings:  15

For 15 pieces with 1 Tblsp sauce:

Diet Power:  189 calories, 2.5 g fat, 41.3 g carbs, 2.0 g fiber, 2.1 g protein.
Weight Watchers Points/Plus:  5

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Walnut Fudge Frosting

I adapted this recipe from one found on Veronica’s Cornucopia for Wacky Pumpkin Spice Cake.  Without eggs or milk, this recipe makes a wonderful moist, soft cake.  Veronica used a Maple-Cinnamon Glaze* on her cake but I wanted to use a Pumpkin Walnut Fudge Frosting I had recently developed.  I cook the pumpkin puree over low heat for 2 minutes to keep it from tasting grainy.  This frosting made the cupcakes extra-delicious and rich.

PUMPKIN CUPCAKES WITH PUMPKIN WALNUT FUDGE FROSTING

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½  tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (Canola)
  • 1 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12 cupcake sections or insert 12 paper or silicone liners.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the 12 prepared cupcake pans…..

…. and bake for approximately 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to stay in the pan for five minutes.  If using paper or silicone liners, leave in liners and remove to a rack to cool for five minutes.

After five minutes, remove the cupcakes from the liners and allow to cool completely on a rack.

Yield:  12 cupcakes

When the cupcakes are cool, frost with rich Pumpkin Walnut Fudge Frosting:

PUMPKIN WALNUT FUDGE FROSTING

  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tblsp. butter
  • 1 Tblsp. evaporated milk, undilulted
  •  ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

In a medium pan, place the pumpkin and cook over medium low heat (#4 on my electric range gauge) for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  A non-stick pan is helpful to keep the pumpkin from scorching.  Add butter and evaporated milk and continue to cook over medium low heat until butter is melted.  Remove from heat and whisk in spices and powdered sugar until smooth.  Stir in nuts.  Cool.  Spread on tops of cooled Pumpkin Cupcakes.  Enough frosting to generously cover 12 cupcakes.

*Veronica’s Maple-Cinnamon Glaze (enough for 12 cupcakes)
½ cup powdered sugar
2 Tblsp. real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together until smooth.  Drizzle over cupcakes.

Fluffy Gingerbread and Spicy Sauce

This recipe for gingerbread comes from a favorite old cookbook, Southern Sideboards, 1978. I have a note that I made it for the first time in September of 1985 and rated it “excellent”.  Then, I have another note from February 6, 2007 – “Revision made during a snow storm and during Rusty’s (my dog) recuperation from pancreatitis.  Had made potato soup for myself  for supper and thought I’d like some gingerbread that wasn’t too high fat-wise.  It was exactly what I was hoping for – had it warm with some whipped topping – excellent.”

The revised version substituted canola oil for butter and cut the recipe in half.  It also omitted a streusel-type topping.

FLUFFY GINGERBREAD

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. molasses (Grandma’s)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Oil and flour an 8-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar,  egg and molasses.  Whisk in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger.

Stir in the flour and then stir in the boiling water.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake @ 350 degrees F for approximately 25 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

This time around, I decided to serve the gingerbread with a Spicy Sauce:

SPICY SAUCE WITH APPLE JUICE

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tblsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup cold apple juice*
  • 2 Tblsp. butter

*I make stronger flavored apple juice by combining 6 tablespoons of apple juice concentrate with enough water to make one cup.

In a small pan, combine sugar and cornstarch.  Add cold apple juice and whisk until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.

Serve warm over warm gingerbread.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups of sauce.  Sauce can be reheated.

Gingerbread with Caramelized Apples

About 10 years ago, I copied this recipe from an old 1976 Bicentennial Heritage cookbook before the book was donated to Goodwill.  Recently, as I was updating my computer files, the recipe turned up and looked interesting.  It was way too high in calories and fat, though, so I adjusted the recipe considerably.  My youngest daughter and I enjoyed it for dessert – and it’s just right for these nice autumn days.


GINGERBREAD WITH CARAMELIZED APPLES

For the Caramelized Apples

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 cups thinly sliced tart apples (Golden Delicious or Granny Smith)

For the Gingerbread

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup oil (Canola)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tblsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

To make the caramelized apples: In a large skillet, melt the butter and add 1 cup brown sugar.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add apple slices and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is as thick as syrup and apples are tender.


To make the gingerbread: Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses and oil.


In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, soda, salt, baking powder, 2 Tblsp. brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon.

Add the dry ingredients to the molasses mixture alternately with the boiling water, stirring just until blended.

Spread the apple mixture in the bottom of a 9-inch ungreased baking dish.  Pour the batter over the apples.

Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Increase heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes longer or until cake tests done when a tester is inserted in the center.

Remove pan to wire rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes…

…then invert the pan onto a large platter, apple-side-up, to continue cooling.

This cake is delicious slightly warm and keeps its soft texture for several days.