Raisin Cake is one of those recipes that has been around around since the wooden cook stove of pioneer days. One of my lady friends received this raisin cake recipe from her mother, who learned it from her mother who learned it from her mother and so on. It truly is from the olden’ days – and the autumn olden’ days at that – with spices of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. None of the ingredients require refrigeration and just a few simple kitchen utensils are required. Can you picture it? A lady named Myrtle brings her famous raisin cake to the local town square dance in October 1856. I imagine it was all gone by the end of the evening!
This cake not only has history, but amazing taste. The only change I made to the recipe was substituting out some of the white flour for whole wheat in favor of a heartier texture. You certainly can leave as is! Either result is a delicious and moist “bar-like” cake with a slight crunch on top. It has become our new favorite and the best part? It takes less than 10 minutes to mix up and only 30 to bake. Those pioneer women had a lot of other chores to get done!
Friends, I introduce to you the timeless autumn raisin cake. Come on in to my kitchen!
The ingredients are simple. You probably have all of them on hand and as I said before, none of them require refrigeration. Flour, sugar, shortening, baking soda, spices and of course, raisins. Ah, the raisin. It seems either you like the delectable little dried grape or you don’t, but this cake takes the raisin to a whole new level. You actually boil the raisins soft to draw out both their color and flavor. I don’t care for oatmeal raisin cookies, but I LOVE this raisin cake!
Put 1 cup of raisins in a pot and pour in 1 cup of water. Easy! Let it boil for 5 minutes. Much of the water will be soaked up by the raisins.
While you are waiting, get your dry bowl ready. Whisk together 3 cups flour (I prefer to use 2 cups white and 1 cup whole wheat), 1 Tbsp baking soda and 1 tsp each of ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. If you are going to grate your own nutmeg, you will only need 1/2 tsp.
When the 5 minutes is up, turn the heat off and mix in 1/2 cup shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar until the shortening is melted and the sugar is dissolved.
Now the fun part! Make a well in the center of your flour mixture and pour in the hot raisins. Stir it all together.
The cake batter will be very thick, so we need to add 1/4 cup water and while you are at it, 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
Go ahead – taste it! It will bring nothing but excitement for what is to come. Spread it into your favorite large casserole dish and bake it at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
When done, a toothpick will be clean when inserted and the top of the cake will be a crunchy golden brown. This cake is delicious hot, so if you made it all for yourself, grab a fork!
If however, you’ve made it for a special friend or even your local square dance? I suppose you’ll have to stack them in neat squares on a pretty little platter…but trust me, no one will notice if there’s one missing 🙂 This cake also freezes wonderfully. Place baked squares in freezer containers and eat frozen or thawed.
Now you will see why this autumn raisin cake recipe survived the 1800’s and has since been beloved for decades. It’s clever, it’s simple, and it’s delicious.
- 1 cup raisins
- 1¼ cup water, divided
- ½ cup shortening
- 1½ cups sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 1 T. baking soda
- 1 t. ground cinnamon
- 1 t. ground cloves
- 1 t. ground nutmeg
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- Combine 1 cup of raisins with 1 cup of water on the stove top. Boil for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together 3 cups flour, 1 Tbsp baking soda and 1 tsp each of ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
- When the 5 minutes is up, turn the heat off and mix in ½ cup shortening and 1½ cups sugar until the shortening is melted and the sugar is dissolved.
- Make a well in the center of your flour mixture and pour in the hot raisins. Stir it all together.
- Add ¼ cup more water and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Spread it into your favorite large casserole dish and bake it at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
- When done, a toothpick will be clean when inserted and the top of the cake will be a crunchy golden brown.
Meredith is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom living in NW Ohio. She loves to adapt recipes to her family’s eclectic tastes and is learning to provide nourishment for any bellies who walk through the door at a moment’s notice. If not in the kitchen, you’ll find Meredith in front of her sewing machine or spending quality time with her home and church families. Life goes by so fast!