This recipe is called poverty cake. I want to share the story that accompanies this recipe in the cookbook:
I was not much more than a child when I met an elderly woman whom I remember vividly. She was short, jolly and round - the way I think of Mrs. Claus. Her house was a weathered grey colour, without even a remnant of peeling paint, and apple trees blossomed in her yard. When I think now about her life, I realize how hard it was: electricity was fist connected to their barn, and only years later to their house. She served me a slice of Poverty Cake with a spoonful of applesauce and I liked it so much that I asked her for the recipe. She told me, "You can tell it's done when a fine field straw comes out of the centre clean."
I read this story and I decided to make the recipe by hand - without the luxury of my Kitchen Aid. I made sure to use softened butter to add ease when beating with the eggs and sugar. The recipe reminded me of "coffee cake", a cinnamon flavoured cake that my mum makes in a bundt cake pan. I decided to use a pan (see below) that is shaped like a bundt pan but there is no cut out in the centre. I slowly made the batter, taking my time (and giving my arm a break!).
I carefully followed the instructions, and used a toothpick to check when it was done. When it was part-way cooled, I flipped the cake over to separate it from the pan. It was stuck, very stuck. I went around the edge with a knife and tried again. Still stuck. I worked at it for an hour (it seemed!) and then decided I had to sacrifice part of the cake. Long struggle short, I got the cake out, but the top remained stuck in the pan. I looked at it, and thought, "I've given a whole new meaning to the name of this cake." My second thought was, "can I serve this to my girlfriends who are coming for dinner tonight?" I decided to cover it in "Quick Caramel Icing" in an attempt to make it pretty. Then I added some walnuts in the shape of a crown. Every last bit of it was eaten, so I guess it turned out okay!
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup sour milk
1 cup of raisins (which I omitted!)
Beat egg in bowl. Beat in brown sugar, butter, and vanilla. Stir together flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
If you don’t have sour milk, combine 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice with enough milk to make 1 cup.
Stir flour mixture into brown sugar mixture alternately with milk. Stir in raisins.
Turn into buttered 9 inch cake pan and bake at 350°C for 1 hour.
Let cool. Top with Quick Caramel Icing, sprinkled with chopped nuts (if desired).
Quick Caramel Icing
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup milk
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp cream
1 tsp vanilla
Combine sugar, milk, butter, and salt in saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until mixture reaches soft ball stage (234°F) on candy thermometer.
Remove from heat and cool to 110°F.
Beat until icing begins to thicken. Beat in cream and vanilla, beating until spreading consistency.
Note: I did not cool it all the way or beat it to a spreading consistency. I cooled it to a sauce consistency, to pour over the cake, almost like a glaze.
*Recipe from the Farm and City Cookbook