Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

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Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.

Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

We were delighted to be sent on a vintage recipe hunt for a blog follower.  The mission was a Boiled Raisin Cake with a frosting.  Patti wanted to surprise her 91-year-old father by making this cake that he remembered fondly.  After searching high and low through all her vintage cookbooks, Barbara came up empty-handed.

And then, like divine intervention, someone posted a photo of their dinner in a Facebook group.  Included in the photo was a Boiled Raisin Cake. The cook was kind enough to share her recipe, so Barbara went to town tweaking it just a tad. The original recipe called for the cake to be made in a tube pan sans a glaze or frosting.

Grandma’s Raisin Cake

This Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake is made with raisins that are boiled in water and brown sugar to soften them, making a sweet, sugary syrup.

Barbara decided to go the route of a 13 x 9-inch glass dish which she thought would complement the cake to frosting ratio.  Barbara also came up with a delicious brown sugar frosting.

The simple brown sugar frosting could be used on any type of cake, especially spiced cake, rum cake or pumpkin cake.

Chocolate Raisin Cake Ingredients

Raisins

Water

Cocoa Powder

Butter

Brown sugar, light or dark

All Purpose Flour

Baking Powder

Baking Soda

Salt, iodized

Ground Cinnamon

Allspice

Ground Nutmeg

Cloves, ground

Brown Sugar Frosting Ingredients

Brown Sugar, light or dark

Butter

Milk

Powdered Sugar

 

Cinnamon Raisin Cake Recipe

The flavor and aromas of this cinnamon raisin cake is very much that of a lovely fall dessert.

This cake is full of spice flavor with the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.  If you are lacking one or more of these spices, just omit and add a little bit more of those ones you do have on hand.

It may be the perfect cake to accompany a cup of coffee. Our mom noted that it reminded her of an applesauce raisin cake her mom used to make.  Our dad gave this cake 2 thumbs up.  It passed the test!

How to Make Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Full recipe steps and ingredient amounts for chocolate raisin cake is found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Bring to a boil, water, brown sugar, raisins, butter and cocoa. Let simmer for 5 minutes and then remove from heat and let cool.
  2. In a different bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until completely incorporated.
  4. Pour into greased 13-by-9 inch glass dish or cake pan.
  5. Bake in 350-degree F oven for 35 minutes. While the cake bakes, prepare the frosting.

How to Make Brown Sugar Frosting

  1. On the stove, stir together brown sugar, water and milk.
  2. Heat until brown sugar dissolves while whisking constantly.
  3. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, pour into mixer bowl and add powdered sugar. Mix until a frosting is formed.

 

Notes About Old Fashioned Raisin Cake

  • We typically use purple raisins but yellow would work too.
  • Use light or dark brown sugar in the boiled raisin cake and/ or the brown sugar frosting.
  • Let the brown sugar syrup cool before preparing the raisin cake batter.
  • If you are missing a couple of the spices, feel free to leave them out. Just add a little bit more of the other spices.
  • The brown sugar icing is completely optional.  The chocolate raisin cake is just as good by itself. You could even dust with powdered sugar.

Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.

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Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.
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4.75 from 4 votes

Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake is topped with a delicious homemade brown sugar frosting.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: boiled raisin cake, boiled raisin spice cake
Servings: 16
Calories: 513kcal
Author: Barbara

Ingredients

Boiled Raisin Cake

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Brown Sugar Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Boiled Raisin Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • In a medium saucepan, mix together water, brown sugar, raisins, butter, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool. 
    Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves.  
    Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until completely incorporated. 
    Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.
  • Pour into a 13x9 inch glass dish or cake pan that has been generously sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. 
    Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.
  • Bake for 35 minutes of until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake.
    Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.
  • While cooling, prepare the Brown Sugar Frosting.

Brown Sugar Frosting

  • In a medium sized saucepan, mix brown sugar, butter and milk.  Heat until the sugar is dissolved, whisking constantly.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.
    Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.
  • Once the sugar mixture is cooled, pour sugar mixture into a mixer bowl.  Add powdered sugar and mix until a frosting is formed.  If a runnier texture is desired, add milk 1 T. at a time until desired consistency. 
    Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.
  • Frost the cake, and enjoy!
    Old-Fashioned Boiled Raisin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a spice cake featuring raisins cooked in brown sugar. This vintage cake is flavored with a combination of cocoa, cinnamon nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice.

Notes

  • We typically use purple raisins but yellow would work too. 
  • Use light or dark brown sugar in the boiled raisin cake and/ or the brown sugar frosting.
  • Let the brown sugar syrup cool before preparing the raisin cake batter. 
  • If you are missing a couple of the spices, feel free to leave them out. Just add a little bit more of the other spices. 
  • The brown sugar icing is completely optional.  The chocolate raisin cake is just as good by itself. You could even dust with powdered sugar.
  • Love vintage spice cakes? Try this amazing Pumpkin cake. 

Nutrition

Calories: 513kcal | Carbohydrates: 95g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 246mg | Potassium: 260mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 62g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2mg

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33 Comments

  1. I lost my mother’s boiled raisin spice cake recipe. It was also made in a tube pan. What kind of changes were made to the original recipe? How would I go about finding it?

  2. My mother made a similar cake but it did not have cocoa in it. It had cherries, gumdrops, candied fruit,and walnuts in it and was baked in a loaf pan and that was our fruit cake at Christmas. She mixed it all in the pot after the liquid was warm. This is why I could never understand why everyone I met didn’t like fruitcake. Our fruitcake was very moist and delicious. I took it to work to share with all the co-workers that said they didn’t like fruitcake and they all loved it.

    1. Sorry to hear that MaryLou. We haven’t tried it without the cocoa. It’s only 3 Tablespoons so it may be just fine without it.

  3. I’d like to make this recipe but as cupcakes for a book club brunch I’m hosting. Do you think this recipe would work well for cupcakes? Thank you so much for sharing, it’s looks/sounds delicious!

    1. Ashley, we haven’t tried this cake as cupcakes, but it should be possible. I’d suggest making the batter as noted in the recipe card and bake at same temperature but for one-third to one-half the baking time. You might start with baking 1 or 2 cupcakes to test the baking time and then do the rest. Hope this helps!

  4. Dammit, it’s COMPLEMENT, not COMPLIMENT!! The frosting isn’t telling the cake how beautiful its raisins are.

    1. Paula, there is no need to curse. Thank you for letting us know and we’ve made the edit. Have a great day!

  5. Hi,
    I was happy to come across this recipe doing a web search for a similar recipe. Boiled Raisin cake is in my recipe box, handed down by my mother. During my college days, while working at a rather well known Inn, I talked the chef to let me bake this and put it on the menu. The next night, I waited on a table where a gentleman had returned after the show for yet another serving of this delicious treat! So happy others know of how good this cake is!
    Thank you,
    Judith

    1. What an awesome story! Love that it is a family recipe of yours that made such an impression on others! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I love raisins and want to
    Make this but it’s just me. Is it possible to cut this recipe in half?
    Thank you & please advise

  7. I have my great grandmother’s Boiled Spice Cake which is similar to this recipe. There is no frosting recipe and it was baked in a loaf pan.

  8. Just made this recipe, reminds me of my grandma’s kitchen. My kitchen smells so good. My husband just told me this was the best cake I have ever baked. 10*

    1. Rebecca – So glad you (and your husband) enjoyed it. Nothing better than a recipe that reminds you of grandma!! Thanks for sharing.

  9. This is a great cake reminds me of my child hood at my grandparents my grandmother made this for us everytime we would go visit

  10. Flavor was good. Frosting was way to sweet for me. I have a boiled raisin cake recipe made with molasses which is my favorite. Had to try this one using cocoa.

    1. I would love to get the recipe for your cake with molasses! I’m still searching for my grandmother’s cake. It was very dark, moist and she called it Poor Man’s Cake. Made an old War Cake yesterday and it was definitely not it. Thank you in advance!

  11. Hi, my mom used to make the cake with the same recipe and it didn’t last long at our home the icing can also be made with cocoa for some other cakes so good and can be made in creamy candy

  12. I was delighted to find this, thank you for posting it. I am in the process of cooling the raisins and liquid. I am hopeful this will be what my brother has been craving! I did leave out the cocoa, as I know my mom didn’t put that in, but I am pretty sure there was an egg??? Has anyone tried it with an egg mixed in with the wet ingredients??

    Bonnie

  13. I think this is similar to my grandma’s recipe, but she would use coffee instead of water and lard instead of butter. I’m going to use the coffee and see how it taste.

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