September 20, 2017

Nibbles: Now is the Time to Bake a Spice Cake

On Sunday, March 1, I decided that winter was done. That afternoon, though, I drove to the Ward’s home in Madison to celebrate Zimmy’s 90th birthday. There would be around 40 of us and the food promised to be yummy. I had bought my Coca-Cola Cake and a slow-cooker full of Cincinnati four-way chili. Both were good but Eugenia’s baked rigatoni along with chopped liver, potatoes Lyonnaise and Norma’s  gorgeous jelly roll, 18-inches long ringed with beautiful berries were even better.

It was snowing as I drove my car out of the garage and the light precip turned into serious snow (I’d worn real shoes instead of the knee-high mukluks’ I lived in for more than a month.) By the time I got to Madison, there was an inch on the ground. The party was fabulous, but by late afternoon, people began to head home.

When I got into my car, it was a serious snowstorm, and I had “miles to go before I sleep,” as Robert Frost wrote. The usual 45 minutes tuned into two and a half hour, never seeing a white or yellow line. All I could do was follow the cars in front of me. Fortunately, I made it home safe and sound.

Obviously, my decision that winter was over made God laugh. Once home I made a cup of tea and warmed my toes with a blanket. After watching “Downtown Abbey,” my new decision would be to make a spice cake the next day.

Old-Fashioned Spice Cake

Adapted from Linnea Rufo, Bee & Thistle Inn, Old Lyme, CT

Yield: serves 10 to 12 people

old_fashioned__spice_cake1 cup sugar
One-half cup (1 stick) butter
One-half cup currants or raisins or dried cherries (optional)
One-half cup candied ginger, chopped
2 eggs
2 tablespoons molasses
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
One-quarter teaspoon cloves
One-half teaspoon ginger
One-teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease a 10-inch tube pan.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  4. Pour batter into prepared tube pan. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until cake pulls away from sides of pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool cake in the pan, set on a rack, for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and spread on icing at once, while cake is still warm.

Espresso Icing

1 and one-half cups of confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon of espresso
1 tablespoon milk

Whisk icing ingredients together.

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