Unearthing Old Recipes: California Raisin Cake

Deep inside, I am a neat person. If you knock on my hotel room door on any business trip, you’ll find it tidy, all the clothes hung, shoes lined up in a row and everything in its place. I am also a meticulous packer.

But at home? Not so much.

Everything is fine until I get busy; then I let things slip. Recently, Dave and I have been working seven days a week on Special Fork and my house has paid the price. So, given it was the first free weekend I’ve had in a long while, I looked forward to getting my house back in shape.

Going through my files as I cleaned, I came across old recipe brochures that I helped to produce at Ketchum, the PR agency where I worked for so many years. And it brought back old memories of clients, associates and good work accomplished.

One of the brochures I found included a recipe for California Raisin Cake. The notation stated that we sent the recipe to newspaper food editors in 1987. You can tell it’s an old recipe because it calls for sifting the dry ingredients. Today, unless it’s a feathery cake, most recipes call for just stirring the dry ingredients together. Also, the recipe required 2 cups of sugar; I reduced it to 1 3/4 cups because we tend to eat things less sweet these days. I think you can cut the oil back somewhat, too. Since I didn’t test it that way, if you try cutting the oil back and you like the result, please let me know by adding a comment below.

While the ingredient list may look long, the recipe takes just 30 minutes to prep and an hour to bake. It’s a nice snacking cake made with everyday ingredients many of us have at home.

California Raisin Apple Cake
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups peeled 1-inch apple chunks
1 cup raisins
¾ cup chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar, as needed

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In mixer bowl combine oil and sugar; beat until thick. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together well the flours, soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add to oil mixture; mix well. Stir in apples, raisins and walnuts just until blended. Spoon into a greased and floured 9- X 13- X 2-inch baking pan. Bake 1 hour or until pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cake on rack 15 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 10 to 12 servings. Recipe adapted from the California Raisin Advisory Board.

Note, if you are baking for the first time:
  • To grease and flour a pan: You do this so the dough doesn’t stick to the pan. Smear butter or vegetable shortening in the pan, covering the entire surface with a thin layer. Add flour and tap and shake it around to adhere to the grease evenly. Turn pan upside to discard any leftover flour.
  • To insert pick: Use a toothpick or bamboo skewer and poke it in the middle of the pan, down to the bottom. When you remove the pick, there should be no doughy residue on your pick.
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Posted: Apr 17th by Sandy_Hu