On Sunday, knowing my daughter, Alex, and her sugar-loving boyfriend, Josh, were stopping by for dinner, I decided to bake a cake. After pouring through the contents of a recipe box I purchased at an estate sale in Akron -- (I remember the person making the sale kindly offered to dump all the cards -- she thought I just wanted the box!)-- I was all set to make Sugarplum Spice Cake, mostly because I liked the name.
Then, I discovered a recipe card simply titled "Spice Cake." On the reverse side was the notation: (good one). So with that endorsement (from an unknown 1940s home cook) that's the one I made. It's a keeper. Simple to make and absolutely delicious. Josh said it was like carrot cake, but without the carrot. All of us liked the fine crumb, moist texture and bold spice of the cake. And having just eaten two more pieces, I can guarantee that it's as good, if not better, the day after it's baked.
Like many butter cakes of the 1940s (and those popularized more recently by Rose Levy Beranbaum in The Cake Bible), this is made using a rather uncoventional (by today's standards) method. The butter is initially mixed with the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, etc.), not with the sugar. This method produces a very fine textured cake, according to uber baker Nick Malgieri, who notes that it was called high ratio baking when it was introduced by Proctor and Gamble in the 40s.
Tomorrow: The caramel frosting for the cake.