Poor Man’s Cake: A Family Recipe From The Great Depression
There is something so special about family recipes. They hold stories and memories that get brought up again every time we make them. This particular recipe comes from my mother’s mother, Trenna Linden, my dear Grandma.
The name of this bundt cake stems from the time’s in which Grandma had it growing up. During the Great Depression, things that seem so basic to us today like dairy and eggs were expensive, so this cake omits those. Yet it still holds so much moisture and flavor from the shortening, warm spices, and raisins. (So unintentionally vegan for those looking!).
Below is a page from a beloved family recipe book my father’s mother, Jane Pugel (whom I call Nana), compiled. Thank you, Nana!
Every time we make this cake, my mom, aunts, and uncles share memories of their childhood growing up in the church, welcoming people into their home, traveling around with their missionary parents, and the stories Grandma shared with them of her own childhood. Making this cake reminds me of the history of my family, the love they have poured out to others through serving, giving, and hospitality, and just how special time with family is.
This is a delicious spice cake, filled with raisins, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. You can also ice it with butter cream for extra sweetness or add nuts for more texture. We typically leave out the nuts but that’s just because my siblings and I didn’t care for nuts growing up (but things have changed!).
I love to have this in the morning with a cup of coffee, or with some hot tea after a long walk in the cold weather. A great option for fika.
I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. And I encourage you to cherish family traditions, new and old, or make traditions of your own to pass along!
Poor Man’s Cake
- 3 cups raisins
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 cups hot water
- 1/4 cup shortening (Crisco)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- (optional 1 cup chopped nuts)
- Put the first 7 ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer and cook slowly for 15 minutes, stirring throughout.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease a bundt pan.
- Add in the dry ingredients and stir just until all the ingredients are mixed together.
- Pour into the bundt pan and bake for an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean (this was around 50 minutes for me).
- Cool the cake in the pan before removing it.
- Frost the top with a buttercream frosting and nuts sprinkled on top, or dust with powdered sugar.
I love this post, Lilly! And the picture of the recipe from Nana’s family recipe book warms my heart! xo, Mary
It’s really one of my favorite recipes!!