09/24/2012 08:49 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Heirloom Molasses Cake

I was cleaning out one of my mother's many closets after she passed away and found a little stack of recipes written in either my grandmother's hand or some other distant female relative's tiny writing. The recipe for Molasses Cake caught my attention. It had measurements like "1 large spoon of butter." What kind of spoon? I found out after making it the first time that it probably wasn't a small spoon.

I get cravings for molasses things--not gingerbread (too wintry), but the kind of cakey stuff that's inside a shoofly pie, but without the pie's crust and the wetness. The first time I made this recipe it was too dry, and it collapsed under the crumbs. So the second time, I added eggs and more butter (think of it as a LARGE spoon of butter, like maybe even a ladle). It was good! It was moist! It was dark and rich because I use organic molasses, and it's the dark stuff that's filled with nutritional goodness. I also used white whole wheat flour, which can really hold up to it in this recipe. It's total yumness and very quick and easy to make.

Heirloom Molasses Cake

  • 3½ cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1½ sticks butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Mix the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Set aside 1½ cups of the dry mixture.
  2. To the main bowl add ½ stick of the butter, melted, the eggs, molasses, baking soda, and hot water. Stir until mixed together and put in a cake pan.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  4. Take the remaining flour, sugar, and salt mixture and cut in a stick of butter. Mix with your hands until it's a good crumb mixture.
  5. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the cake mixture and put in the oven.
  6. Depending on the size of your cake pan, you can cook it either for 15 minutes (big, flat pan) or for 40 minutes (small, deep pan). Check with a knife. If the knife comes out clean, it's done!
We served it with whipped cream. Sigh. Very good and easy!

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