Recipe Finder: Spanish Bar Cake

July 18, 2011|By Julie Rothman, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Blanche Harrrell from Forest Hill was looking for a recipe for making a cake that was sold at the old A&P stores when she was growing up called Spanish bar cake. She said it was a delicious dark, moist cake with raisins.

James Welker from Lykens, Pa., sent in the recipe for the cake Harrell was in search of. He said he worked at an A&P store when he was high school in the late 1950s and remembers the cake very well. He said he thinks the cake sold at that time for 39 cents. He still makes the cake several times a year and enjoys it.

I tested the recipe and was somewhat surprised at how thick and weighty a cake it turned out to be. It had a wonderfully moist texture and nice spice cake flavor, full of raisins and nuts and not overly sweet.


Margaret Underwood from Baltimore is searching for a recipe for a candy she remembers fondly from her childhood growing up in East Baltimore around Johns Hopkins Hospital during the 1950s and 1960s called "Heart Attacks." It was a solid block of candy made with coconut. She thinks someone in the neighborhood likely made the candy in their homes and then sold it to the corner stores.

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request, write to Julie Rothman, Recipe Finder, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278 or email If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate piece of paper and be sure to include your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Name and hometown must accompany recipes in order to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letter and recipes may be edited for clarity.

Spanish Bar Cake with Nutmeg Icing

Makes: 16 to 20 servings

For cake:

4 cups water

2 cups raisins

1 cup shortening

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups white sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup chopped walnuts

For icing:

4 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted)

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 tablespoons heavy cream

2 dashes ground nutmeg

For cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9 inch cake pan.

Cook raisins in the water for 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir in shortening. Stir until shortening is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, spices and salt. Add raisin water shortening mixture. Blend well. Beat eggs lightly and stir into batter. Stir in chopped nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until tester comes out clean. When cake is cool, frost with nutmeg icing.

For icing, combine confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla and heavy cream in a bowl and beat until smooth. Add nutmeg to taste.

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