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Saturday, April 1, 2017

RAISIN CAKE? Oh, heck yeah!



All the while you thought grapes were just for wine and Roman orgies.  Not so.  And don’t lie, you haven’t been to a Roman orgy is years, so how would you know?  Bet you don’t even know where your toga is. 

Wine, of course, is another matter.  I can tell by the little red wiggly veins that you have a nose for wine.

Let’s go past an adult view of grapes and wine, all the way back to raisins. I look at raisins as the transition between childhood and adultery adulthood.  Maybe your mommy even explained raisins as granddaddy grapes.  Let’s take a closer look and fumble through some history.

One question that always comes up is, “How do they get the seeds out of raisins?”  That’s an easy one.  According to ‘Today I Found Out’ (http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/04/raisins-made-seedless-grapes/) raisins from seedless grapes have been around since antiquity.  Dried fruit travels well and by the early 19th Century the raisin trade led to a great boost in commerce, especially between Greece (an exporter) and England (an importer).  The Brits, then known only as The Engs, did a lot of baking with raisins.   Only kidding about The Engs. As any schoolchild knows, in 1707 with the Acts of Union, Scotland joined England and Wales to form Great Britain. By the time raisins were big boys in the world of commercial trade, Great Britain was already Great Britain and raisins were a big item in commercial baking.

 English baking, or is it Brit baking?  Anyway, the most famous and historic raisin bakery items were and are hot crossed buns. You still find them in bakeries all over The Commonwealth.  Remember the rhyme “One a penny, two a penny, hot crossed buns?”  Lots of symbolism and dark church history involving hot crossed buns.  Dictates about when you could sell them, punishments, etc. ‘Fraid you’ll have to do your own Googling.  I’m hungry!  We’ll streak on to making some Raisin Cake! As usual, this recipe is simple and simply delicious!

Raisin Cake

2 Cups raisins
2 Cups water
½ Cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup cold water
2 Cups white sugar
4 Cups flour

1 Teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and baking soda
½ Teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC)
Grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan.  I used a glass pan, greased it with butter, then dusted it with flour.

Put raisins and two cups of water in a saucepan and boil for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Melt the butter and add it to the vegetable oil.  I heat butter and oil together in a microwave.  Add the mixture to the raisins, along with a cup of cold water.

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.  Add the un-drained raisin mixture to the bowl and mix well.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured baking pan and slide it into the pre-heated oven.  Bake for 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on your oven), or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

You’ve just make a sensational, flavorful amalgamation of childhood and adulthood, with some history tossed in!

I like to add a dollop of freshly whipped cream to each piece of cake.  Settle back, sip some coffee and calm your restless guests with a perfect after dinner treat. 







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