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A Slice of Yum Yum CakeAs a general rule, I don’t fall for recipes with cutesy names. But when I kept stumbling across a recipe for “Yum Yum Cake,” in my old cookbooks, I decided that perhaps there was something more to the recipe than a cute name and ought to give it a try.

Ingredients for Yum Yum CakeThe method for making this cake is really quite fascinating. It is a spice cake, made with raisins, and contains no eggs or milk. The raisins get boiled in a syrup of sugar, water, and butter instead, and then the mixture is allowed to cool before mixing in flour, spices, and leavening agents.

Cook until syrupyYum Yum Cake Ready For OvenThe resulting cake bakes up with a tender, moist crumb inside, and a delicious, thick dark-gold crust on the outside. It is a sturdy, old-fashioned cake, a bit dense and very flavourful.

A Raisin Spice CakeIn the old cookbooks, the cake was usually referred to as a “cheap” or “economical” fruitcake, as the absence of eggs and dairy (the older versions of the recipe called for using lard, not butter) made it a luxury that could be afforded more easily. Nowadays, we probably aren’t worrying about the cost of milk when we’re picking out a cake recipe to make, but food allergies and the popularity of the vegan diet have given us a new reason to find this a useful recipe.

Old-Fashioned Spice CakeOf course, my version isn’t vegan, since I insist upon using butter in my cakes, but you could easily substitute a vegetable shortening and still get a good result. (Or you can use lard and be truly authentic, although certainly not vegan!) The truth is, what with all the spices and the brown sugar and raisins, you really wouldn’t miss the butter flavour that much at all.

The cake certainly is “yummy,” although I still feel that the name is silly. However, it came in very handy for this month’s Alphabakes challenge, hosted by Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker, as the letter selected was “Y.” We’ve been going through some tough letters in the challenge recently, which is organized by Ros and Caroline of Caroline Makes (they host on alternating months). Last month was “X”—pretty tricky—and “Z” is due to come up any time now.

What a shame it isn’t zucchini season. I fancy we all would have been doubly creative in trying to use up this famously prolific crop. As it is, I suppose we’ll just have to really put on our thinking caps. It should be a very interesting round-up. I’ve already got an idea, which, I’m sorry to say, involves yet another cutesy name. But, like Yum Yum Cake, it has more good points than just a cute title.

Yum Yum Cake

Update: July 6th, 2014

This cake was one of the ninety vintage Bucks County recipes featured in my newly-released cookbook, Potato Pie and Cherry Pickle. If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy the book! You can take a peek inside on its Amazon page.

Adapted and updated from various sources


1 ⅔ cups (365 g.) light brown sugar, tightly packed
1 ⅔ cups (400 ml) cold water
1 ⅔ cups (220 g.) raisins
7 tablespoons (100 g.) unsalted butter
2 ½ cups (360 g.) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon hot water


  1. Combine the sugar, cold water, raisins, and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil and let the mixture bubble away for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature, at least one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and grease the sides of the pan.
  5. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, spices, and baking powder.
  6. Dissolve the baking soda in the teaspoon of hot water, and stir it into the cooled raisin mixture.
  7. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the raisin mixture and stir until the batter is smooth.
  8. Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  9. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake test clean, 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes.
  10. Cool in pan before cutting into squares.

Yield: 16 servings