In The Holiday Homicide for January, “The St. Nicholas Abbey Rum,” heroine Gwen Wickersham takes a raisin cake to the bereaved mother of a little girl who was accidentally poisoned during a Twelfth Night Party. In deciding what kind of cake she might make on short notice, I was reminded of one my mother made, often when she was out of eggs. It’s called Poor Man’s Raisin Cake, probably because it consists of only a few very simple ingredients. Though I don’t have my mother’s recipe, the one below is very like what I remember.
POOR MAN’S CAKE OR RAISIN CAKE
2 loaf pans, 6” x 10”
4 Cups cold water
2 Cups white or brown sugar
4 Tablespoons butter or Crisco
1 box (15-ounce) seedless raisins
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, dissolved in a little warm water
4 Cups flour
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves
Grease and flour loaf pans. In a stock pot, simmer raisins in water for 15 minutes. Let cool. Add shortening and dissolved baking soda. In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; mix well. Add sugar to raisins; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix well. Divide batter between loaf pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.