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Spanish Bar Cake

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. 

Spanish Bar Cake on a slate serving plate with coffee in the background.

Spanish Bar Cake

Originally published December 2018.

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 starts with boiled raisins, shown in saucepan.

Spanish Bar Cake starts with boiled raisins

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.

Spanish Bar Cake made with everyday ingredients like walnuts, spices, flour and sugar.

Spanish Bar Cake made with everyday ingredients

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 final folding of the Spanish Bar Cake batter.

The final folding of the Spanish Bar Cake batter.

The recipe was written for two 9×13 pans. Those 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 raisins came from.

Spanish Bar Cake old newspaper ad from 1960!

Spanish Bar Cake old newspaper ad from 1960!

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.

Spanish Bar Cake just out of the oven

Spanish Bar Cake just out of the oven

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.

So, for my taste, and Spouse’s, who loves spice cake, this was a really delicious, easy to make cake.

Raisins for Hot Cross Buns shown in a white bowl.

Sultana Raisins are great in this recipe but you can use any kind you like.

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.

Looking for more holiday baking inspiration?

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.

Best Newfoundland Christmas Cake Recipes

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Spanish Bar Cake image with title text for Pinterest

Spanish Bar Cake

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Spanish Bar Cake on a slate serving plate with coffee in the background.
Yield: 12 or more servings

Spanish Bar Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

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.

Ingredients

  • 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)

For the Frosting

  • 2 1/4 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, more if needed

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking pan and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Add the water and raisins to a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the shortening to the boiled mixture. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  4. Sift together the sugar, soda, flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt.
  5. Add the sifted ingredients to the cooled raisin mixture, along with the beaten egg and the nuts, if you are adding them.
  6. Fold gently until the flour is just incorporated into the batter. Do not over mix.
  7. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan and Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely and ice with frosting if you like

To prepare the frosting

  1. Beat together the icing sugar, butter, vanilla and a tablespoon of milk until smooth.
  2. If necessary, add more milk until the frosting is a good spreadable consistency.
  3. 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.
  4. This recipe also makes about a dozen cupcakes if you prefer.

Notes

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.

Recommended Products

Rock Recipes a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Our product recommendations are almost exclusively for those we currently use or have used in the past.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1 slice (1/12 of the cake)

Amount Per Serving Calories 346Saturated Fat 2gCholesterol 13mgSodium 201mgCarbohydrates 64gFiber 1gSugar 38gProtein 2g

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Susan Moats-Allen

Thursday 4th of November 2021

Anxious to try this cake... Tried another recipe that didn't have ground cloves in it and it is very good but isn't just right. Thank you for your posting this recipe.

JaniceLaws

Sunday 17th of October 2021

I remember my Mom getting these at A&P so yummy.That has been over fifth years ago .Will do my best to make one.Loved these cakes.

Frances Hux

Sunday 17th of October 2021

I am so glad that I've finally found this recipe. This was by far my favorite cake when I was young. Can't wait to try it. Thank you for finding the original

20 Easy Spanish Desserts - Top Recipes

Wednesday 6th of October 2021

[…] 14. Spanish Bar Cake […]

Pat

Sunday 26th of September 2021

I have been looking for the English fruit cake that A&P use to have. I can’t find it.

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