Spanish Bar Cake. A real old fashioned treat! A supermarket favourite from years ago, this simple raisin spice cake is easy to make, moist and utterly delicious.
A few weeks ago, I got a request from a reader for a recipe for Spanish Bar Cake. I had never heard of it before.
She explained that it was a cake made by a supermarket bakery that she loved many years ago. I set off to do a little research on this cake,
Spanish Bar Cake was a very simple bar shaped raisin spice cake with an unfussy vanilla frosting. Being a fan of old time recipes, I certainly became quite interested in finding a recipe.
Turns out this cake was made by Jane Parker Bakery and sold through the A&P supermarket chain in the US & Canada. The reader who sent me the request grew up in Ottawa. I have since heard that it was available in Toronto when a friend was growing up there 20 or so years ago.
There were a few recipes I found on a few websites but none of them definitively said they were the original recipe. I finally came across an old entry in an online food forum which claimed to have been gotten from Jane Parker Bakery.
The recipe was written for two 9×13 pans. Thos two layers would have been frosted and stacked, then cut down the middle to produce 2 bar cakes. What the Spanish inference relates to is completely lost on me, except if that’s where the rasins came from.
Spanish Bar Cake, the result.
I cannot say with any certainty that this was the original recipe. The reader who tried it called it a “very good raisin spice cake” but not quite the flavour she remembered.
Memory is a funny thing though. We sometimes like to imagine things better than they actually were. Then again, with such a widespread production of this cake, there may have been subtle differences in the recipe used regionally.
She noted that a tablespoon of cocoa, which some recipes add, would make it the darker colour she remembered. She also said the flavour was not so intense as she remembered.
The intenseness of flavour in this recipe would really have to come from the spices. My suggestion would be to add 1 tablespoon of cocoa to the dry ingredients and to up the amount of spices by half, if you want a more deeply flavoured cake.
For my taste, and Spouse’s, who loves spice cake, this was a really delicious, easy to make cake. We brought it to a friends house for dinner and it got rave reviews.
Next time I will try it with the adjustments I mentioned, but I would be more than content to enjoy it again, just as we made it.
If you love old fashioned cake recipes you may want to check out this collection with some everyday recipes like Cherry Pound Cake too. Favourite Newfoundland Christmas Cakes here.
Like this Spanish Bar Cake recipe?
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- 2 cups water
- 1 cups raisins
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening or butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
- 2 1/4 cups icing sugar
- 1/4 butter at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk more if needed
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking pan and line it with parchment paper.
Add the water and raisins to a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the shortening to the boiled mixture. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Sift together the sugar, soda, flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt.
Add the sifted ingredients to the cooled raisin mixture, along with the beaten egg and the nuts, if you are adding them.
Fold gently until the flour is just incorporated into the batter. Do not over mix.
Turn into the prepared pans and Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool completely and ice with frosting if you like
Beat together the icing sugar, butter, vanilla and a tablespoon of milk until smooth.
If necessary, add more milk until the frosting is a good spreadable consistency.
Cut the cake in half, frost the first layer then top with the second layer and frost again. To get the characteristic lines on top, run the back of a fork over the top frosting in straight lines.
This recipe also makes about a dozen cupcakes if you prefer.
The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.
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