Maine Molasses Cake

Photo Courtesy The Yankee Chef

Many of you will remember this deliciously sweet cake from your parents or grandparents but have not seen it for a while. Molasses cake was a staple at lumber camps many generations ago, and sadly it is seldom made now. I am sure you have some molasses leftover from holiday baking, and I urge you to give this old-time recipe a shot. This cake is also a perfect substitute for gingerbread. Top it with vanilla ice cream while it is hot, grab a blanket, and watch the snow fly outside. This is the perfect cold weather cake and my all-time favorite.

A quick FYI. The batter will be thinner than ordinary cakes, which is perfectly fine.

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar

1/2 cup molasses

1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter or margarine

2/3 cup sugar 

1 egg

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and ground cloves*

An hour before making the cake, cover raisins with boiling water; set aside.

Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper; set aside. 

When ready to complete the recipe, drain raisins; set aside. (See NOTE, below.)

In a bowl, with a hand-held whisk, not an electric mixer because you don’t want every single lump to disappear, add milk, lemon juice or vinegar, molasses, melted butter or margarine, sugar, and egg. Whisk well.

In a separate bowl, thoroughly blend flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves and add this mixture to the molasses mixture. Whisk until just incorporated, and then fold in raisins.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 38–40 minutes, or until it springs back when touched in the center. Remove cool slightly cut and eat warm or refrigerate for later.

* You can use allspice instead, but you really should use ground cloves.

NOTE: The reason we treat the raisins this way is because if you don’t, they will sink to the bottom of the batter and burn while cooking. The batter is not thick enough to suspend them, and don’t listen to other chefs or recipes that tell you to coat them in flour to prevent this sinking from happening. That technique simply does not work in thin batter.

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