Grandma's Raisin Cake a.k.a. "Poor Man's Cake"

This cake has a long history....some people call it "Poor Man's Cake", others call it a "Depression Cake", and I have also seen the recipe online also called "War Cake". I call it my Grandmother's Raisin Cake, cause that's what I remember it as.

The basic story was that during the Depression era, people didn't have a lot of money to buy ingredients with, hence the name.....but what confuses me is, butter and sugar had to be a luxury, no? How about raisins?

The only thing missing here in the ingredients list to make this a thrifty cake are the eggs.

My grandmother made it with vegetable oil (which would be thrifty), but I used butter.

And she made it in a ring cake pan, I made it in my Simax glass bundt pan (which I ADORE!!!).

This is basically a spice cake with raisins (minus eggs).
It is the perfect snack cake. It freezes well, and stays SUPER MOIST for days!

I like a confectioners sugar glaze, but you can dust it if you like.

Baking times will vary for this cake. My glass pan baked it in 40 minutes, while others may take up to an hour, so keep an eye on it and test the cake.

Grandma's Raisin Cake:

2 cups raisins (I like dark Thompson raisins, but you can use golden or mixed)
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (a stick)
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

In a medium saucepan combine the raisins and water. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and butter.

Stir until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices.

Pour the cooked raisin mixture onto the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until well blended but do not over mix the batter. Pour the batter into a well greased and floured bundt pan or tube pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 40 minutes and up to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (see my notes: baking time will depend on the size of your cake pan).

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Dust with powdered sugar or make an icing (powdered sugar w/ some lemon juice).

Raisin lovers unite!!



Katie C. said…
You know it’s funny that you mention that the cake is a depression cake but the only thing that seems to be missing is the eggs. I make something called a Wacky Cake. I’ve heard people say that it’s a war time or depression cake too. Like yours, it just doesn’t have eggs. It uses vinegar for its rise which sounds awful but isn’t. I never thought it through before but it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s a good chocolate cake though.
Stacey Snacks said…
My mother in law used to make that chocolate cake w/ the vinegar recipe. It was so simple and so good!
Thanks for reminding me!

Anonymous said…
My mom had a recipe for that chocolate cake with the vinegar also. I had no idea about the story behind it. We used to love watching it fizz. I made it for an event that had a child with an egg allergy. Thanks for the insight!