Indulge in the rich flavors of a cherished family recipe with our Spanish Bar Cake. This delightful dessert, steeped in tradition, captures the essence of old-world charm and the warmth of a loving kitchen. The Spanish Bar Cake holds a special place in our hearts, evoking memories of generations past and the joy it brought into our lives. With its moist crumb, an enchanting blend of spices, and luscious pockets of raisins, this cake is a true testament to the art of baking. Join us as we embark on a journey to recreate this beloved classic, allowing its aroma and taste to transport you to a time when every slice held the essence of love and the comfort of home.
The Spanish bar cake holds a special place in my heart
Let me share with you the story of the beloved Spanish Bar Cake that used to grace the shelves of A&P grocery stores in the past. While it may no longer be available in those stores, the memories it holds and the legacy it carries are still alive in the hearts of many. I reminisce about the times when my dad would bring one home every Friday after work, and how this cake became a symbol of love and cherished moments in our family.
In the 80s and 90s, A&P grocery stores were a hub of culinary delights, offering a wide array of delicious treats. In Canada, most of them were Dominion stores in the 80s but transitioned to A&P stores that still carried the infamous Spanish bar cake. During those times, that infamous spice cake reigned supreme, captivating the taste buds of young and old alike. Its moist texture, delightful spices, and succulent raisins made it an irresistible indulgence. And almost every Friday, my dad would come home from work, carrying that familiar box that held a sweet treat to enjoy after dinner.
Unfortunately, as time passed, the Spanish Bar Cake vanished as most A&P stores in Canada were sold to Metro, a supermarket giant that operated grocery stores in Quebec. It became a relic of the past, a treasure tucked away in the annals of culinary history. Yet, its absence only served to deepen the value it held in our hearts. That cake, once readily available, became a rare gem that we cherished even more dearly.
While we can no longer find the cake in stores, we have found solace in recreating it in our own kitchens. While it may not be the actual recipe, I feel it’s pretty close and if you have suggestions or comments about the recipe, let me know in the comments! As I bake this cake today, I am transported back to my childhood, to the love-filled moments spent with my family, and to the lasting impact that a simple cake can have on our lives.
Join me on this journey, as we recreate the magic of the Spanish Bar Cake together. Let us honor the legacy of a cake that once graced the shelves of A&P grocery stores, and create new memories that will be cherished for generations to come.
Water: Water serves as the liquid component in the recipe, helping to not only hydrate the raisins but also create the desired consistency of the cake batter.
Raisins: Raisins add a natural sweetness and a chewy texture to the cake. They also contribute to the distinct flavor profile of the Spanish Bar Cake as it simply would not be the same cake without raisins.
Margarine or Butter: Margarine or butter provides moisture, richness, and flavor to the cake. You can choose between margarine or butter based on your preference or dietary restrictions.
Granulated Sugar: Granulated sugar adds sweetness to the cake. It also helps with the overall texture and structure by providing moisture and promoting browning during baking.
Baking Soda: Baking soda is a leavening agent that helps the cake rise and become light and fluffy.
All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour is the main dry ingredient in the cake batter. It provides structure and stability to the cake.
Ground Cloves, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeg, and Ground Ginger: These spices are the heart and soul of the Spanish Bar Cake, adding warmth, depth, and aromatic flavors. They contribute to the distinctive taste that sets this cake apart.
Salt: Salt enhances the overall flavor of the cake, balancing the sweetness and spices.
Large Eggs: The beaten eggs act as a binding agent, providing structure and moisture to the cake.
Cocoa Powder: Cocoa powder adds a touch of richness but the main use for it in this recipe is to add a darker color to the cake. The original A&P Spanish bar cake had a deep rich color which could have been due to the dark spices like cloves and allspice or it possibly contained molasses; however, this is just a guess.
Each ingredient plays a specific role in creating the unique taste and texture of the Spanish Bar Cake, resulting in a delightful combination of flavors that transport you to the heart of Spain with every bite.
Preheat and Prepare
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan, ensuring all sides are well coated.
Soak the Raisins
In a small saucepan, combine the water and raisins. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool.
Cream the Fat and Sugar
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the vegetable shortening (or butter) and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. A hand mixer or stand mixer works well for this step.
Blend the Dry Ingredients
In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and salt until well combined.
Combine the Ingredients
Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture to the creamed fat and sugar, alternating with the beaten egg. Mix well after each addition until the batter is smooth.
Add Cocoa Powder and Raisins
Stir in the cocoa powder until it is fully incorporated into the batter. Then, fold in the soaked raisins along with any remaining liquid from the saucepan. The raisins will infuse the cake with a delightful burst of flavor!
Bake to Perfection
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it evenly. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool and Serve
Once the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely. This step is crucial for ensuring the cake sets properly.
Frosting or Dusting (Add your personal touch!)
You can leave the cake as is for a simple and rustic presentation, or you can take it a step further and add your favorite frosting or dusting of powdered sugar. Traditional options include cream cheese frosting or a simple buttercream frosting.
Slice and Savor
Finally, slice your Spanish Bar Cake into squares or bars and serve. This cake is perfect for any occasion, from family gatherings to afternoon tea. Each bite will transport you to the heart of Spain with its heavenly aroma and delightful blend of spices.
How many servings are in a Spanish bar cake?
The number of servings can vary depending on the size of the cake and how it is sliced. Generally, a 9×13-inch cake can yield approximately 12 to 16 servings when sliced length-wise to make it a 2-layer bar cake. However, if you slice it width-wise to create a 3-layer bar cake, personally, I find it cuts the cake down to 10-12 servings but the servings are more filling because it’s a 3-layer bar cake versual 2 layers. In addition, if you’re serving it as a dessert at a larger gathering, you may choose to cut smaller pieces, resulting in more servings. Conversely, if you’re serving it for a special occasion or as a centerpiece dessert, you can opt for larger slices, resulting in fewer servings.
Spanish Bar Cake RecipeCourse: Desserts
2 cups water
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
- Buttercream Frosting
2 1/4 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk (if needed)
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan, ensuring all sides are well coated.
- In a small saucepan, combine the water and raisins. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the margarine (or butter) and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and salt until well combined.
- Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture to the creamed fat and sugar, alternating with the beaten egg. Mix well after each addition until the batter is smooth.
- Stir in the cocoa powder until it is fully incorporated into the batter. Then, fold in the soaked raisins along with any remaining liquid from the saucepan.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it evenly. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Once the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To assemble the cake, you can either slice it along the middle lengthwise to create a longer 2-layer bar cake. Alternatively, you can slice it twice widthwise to make it a shorter but taller, 3-layer bar cake.
- Finally, slice your Spanish Bar Cake into squares or bars and serve. This cake is perfect for any occasion, from family gatherings to afternoon tea. Each bite will offer a taste of nostalgia with its heavenly aroma and delightful blend of spices.
- Buttercream Frosting
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter using an electric mixer or stand mixer. Beat the butter on medium-high speed until it becomes smooth and creamy.
- Gradually add the icing sugar, about half a cup at a time, to the creamed butter. Beat on low speed after each addition, allowing the sugar to incorporate fully before adding more.
- Add the vanilla extract to the bowl and continue to beat the mixture on medium speed.
- Assess the consistency of the frosting. If it’s too thick for your liking, add a tablespoon of milk at a time and continue beating until you reach the desired spreadable consistency.
- Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat the frosting for an additional 2-3 minutes. This will make the buttercream light and fluffy, creating a smooth texture that’s perfect for spreading.
There you have it! The best Spanish Bar Cake recipe, I truly hope that you and your family enjoy it as much as I do.
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