The glorious Big Sky country of Montana was the recent setting for my mother Pat’s memorial, which holds the story of redemption. This couldn’t have been more special, with family there from all over the state, as well as Washington, California, and Oregon. It was a blessed reunion of next of kin and old friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen for decades. My 94-year old mother, who was so eager to be with her Maker and my father, was smiling down from heaven, highly pleased with all our gaiety.
Needless to say, the food at this week’s many meals was the greatest. My sister Maureen, who follows a ketogenic diet, is highly gifted in creating memorable ailments. (She trains people in ketogenic-style cooking and presently is writing a cook book, which includes beautiful creative desserts; I will promote it when it comes out.)
Today’s boiled raisin cake, however, dates back to my early childhood in the 1950’s; my mother probably found this well-known cake recipe in a popular magazine. Maureen knows the original instructions by heart, to which I have added a few twists of my own, such as freshly ground flour-this is totally optional, but oh so good!
Pleasing the palate beyond words, this world’s easiest, foolproof cake is mixed in the saucepan in which you boil the raisins. I couldn’t help but share it at this time, thus honoring my mother.
Death normally brings loss; Mom’s departing, however, promoted life and goodness. Her long-term desire to be with Jesus and my father “Buzzy Baby” was finally granted; our Redeemer brought great liberty to many with her passing.
Food, friends, and faith were the best description of her earthly sojourn; thus, these attributes also marked her transition to heaven, for my sister Maureen labored to insure their presence at all our gatherings, thus commemorating our beloved mother-nothing was overlooked. This week-long series of family events highly esteemed this great woman, with the actual memorial, in our village of East Glacier Park, being the height of the glory which was signified by her home-coming.
At this treasured celebration, I was able to reunite with many childhood friends-some of whom I hadn’t seen since the 1970’s. During the reception, extreme laughter blessed us at one table, as we traversed memory lane, for we were recalling our shared employment at my parent’s restaurant.
So many people who came to memorialize Mom’s life had worked for my parents in their fifty-plus years of restaurant ownership; all were bearing rich, belly shaking stories. It was at this respected establishment that I first learned my love for food, in which I have a unique approach of educating with health and history.
Here I note that the raisins in this cake receipt were most likely sun-dried on rows of paper in the vineyards for about three weeks, as is their most common form of production in the United States. There are many thousands of grape varieties, which are of the genus Vitis V. vinifera. Here in North America, we have about 25 native grape species, where in temperate Asia, there are about 10; the major source of wine and table grapes, however, is native to Eurasia. About two-thirds of the world’s grapes result in wine; of the rest, about two-thirds are consumed fresh, with the remaining made into raisins. 1
Urbain Dubois published a recipe in his 19th century cook book, in which he ingeniously combined raisins and capers; presently, Jean-Georges Vongerichten has capitalized on this unique paring, enhancing it even further by pureeing it with nutmeg as a sauce for skate (this popular dish is on his restaurant menu). 2
Loving food and adventure, my mother would have appreciated this daring treatment of raisins. You may experiment with this raisin/caper combination, or just securely rest in Mom’s proven boiled raisin cake. (I suggest making the latter with white vanilla, which is ideal for white frostings-this uncommon flavoring was my recent gift from friends traveling to Mexico, the home of the world’s most outstanding, dirt-cheap vanilla.)
- Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 363.
- Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley& Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 70.
Boiled Raisin Cake Yields: 12 servings. Total prep time: 1 hr & 50 min, with 45 min inactive prep time for cooling raisins, unless you boil them ahead of time, following step one/ active prep time: 20 min/ baking time: 45 min.
3 c flour (Optional: may grind 2 c organic soft white wheat berries to make 3 c flour.)
2 c raisins
3 c water
1 cube butter
2 lg eggs, beaten
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c sugar (Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index; for health benefits, see Zucchini Bread, 2017/07/24.)
1 tsp salt (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 c pecan pieces, optional
Spray oil (Coconut oil is best for flavor and health; Pam coconut spray oil is available in most stores; our local Winco brand, however, is far cheaper.)
2 c powdered sugar (Organic is best; Trader Joe’s has 1-lb packages, where Costco has more economical, larger packets.)
1/2 c butter, melted
1/2 c cream (Organic heavy whipping cream is better for your health.)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
In a 3-quart sauce pan, bring raisins to a boil in 3 cups of water over medium heat; cook for exactly 5 minutes; add butter. Place in a sink full of cold water to cool quickly.
- If using fresh ground flour, grind wheat berries now.
- Make glaze by mixing above “glaze” ingredients, set aside.
- When raisins are cool, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add flour and all other “cake” ingredients to pan; blend well; do not over-beat, however, as this toughens cakes and cookies. IF grinding your own flour, be sure to let batter sit for 45 minutes, as freshly ground flour is coarser and absorbs the liquid more slowly.
- Pour batter into 9”x13” pan, which has been sprayed with coconut spray oil.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, and cake lightly responds when pressed with finger.
- When hot out of oven, immediately poke holes over the whole cake with a toothpick or skewer.
- Pour 2/3’s of glaze evenly on cake (see photo). When cake has cooled, frost with remaining icing; see photo of finished product at top of recipe.
- This cake is dynamite, and it gets better as it sits over time!