Caramel Icing

Poverty Cake with Quick Caramel Icing

Poverty Cake Recipe

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!).

Poverty Cake Recipe
Poverty Cake Recipe with Quick Caramel Sauce

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!

Poverty Cake Recipe with Quick Caramel Sauce
Poverty Cake Recipe with Quick Caramel Sauce
Poverty Cake Recipe with Quick Caramel Sauce
Poverty Cake Recipe

Poverty Cake

1 egg

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

dash salt

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

pinch salt

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.

Poverty Cake Recipe with Quick Caramel Sauce
Poverty Cake Recipe
Poverty Cake Recipe with Quick Caramel Sauce

*Recipe from the Farm and City Cookbook