Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Hand-Me-Down Family Recipe - Poor Man's Cake by Kaye Spencer #recipes #westernfictioneers

For my April article, I shared a hand-me-down family recipe (Dutch Babies/Puff Pancakes). I’ll continue sharing old family recipes for a few months. This time, the recipe is Poor Man’s Cake.

This recipe is probably older than the 1930s date I put on it. I do know both my maternal and paternal grandmothers made a variation of this recipe. This rendition is my alteration of mom’s version.

Poor Man’s Cake was a common sweet-treat during the Great Depression Era. It doesn’t require a lot of each of the ingredients, and it’s easily altered to accommodate the ingredients on hand.

 Poor Man's Cake c. 1930s


1 cup raisins
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
2 cups flour                                                    


1. In a small sauce pan, boil raisins in the water until about  ½ cup of water remains & raisins have plumped.

2. Add: shortening & sugar. Stir until shortening melts & sugar dissolves.

3. Set pan aside to cool.

4. When cool, transfer to a mixing bowl & add egg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, & cloves. Mix by hand until blended.

5. Add flour. Mix by hand until batter is smooth.

6. Spread batter evenly over lightly greased jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Batter will be thin.

7. Cake is done when nicely browned, edges pull away from sides, & center is springy to touch.

8. Straight from the oven & while still quite warm, frost cake with a thin powdered sugar frosting glaze.

 *Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes.

*It’s okay to cool the raisin mixture until the shortening solidifies on top. Simply stir & continue with recipe.

*Cut cake into pieces & store lightly covered.

Powdered Sugar Frosting

For every 1 cup of powdered sugar, add a splash of vanilla, a tablespoon of melted butter, & enough water or milk to mix until smooth. Add  more liquid &/or powdered sugar to make a thin glaze.

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer
writing through history one romance upon a time



  1. Yum. I may try this with gluten-free or nut flour. Thanks! Doris

  2. I love old recipes - keep 'em coming!