It’s been just me and Mini Me the past couple of days. The boys are in the mountains and it reminded me that I can’t remember the last time it was just us girls. I’m not even sure there’s ever been another time, and we are taking full advantage of it. Our day started with a big pot of coffee – drastically more for me than for her. I mean, what kind of mother pushes a caffeine addiction on her 13-year old?
In my defense, she recently started asking to try it and puts about a tablespoon of coffee in her mug along with a full cup of milk. So I’m not the worst mother ever, thank you. And she feels super grown up. I kind of like that part. Then, she started her day of virtual school while I baked this Holiday Spice Cake. By the time it came out of the oven, the aromas had nearly knocked her over and she was begging for a slice before it even had a chance to cool.
Not a Fruitcake!
This Holiday Spice Cake is like nothing I’ve ever had. It’s not fruit cake even remotely. I feel like some people hear the words “spice cake” and think fruit cake. No way. And it’s also not gingerbread, although it’s similar in color. There’s no ginger in this cake. But it’s got the holidays all over it. There’s a healthy dose of cinnamon, a generous handful of cloves and loads of plump, juicy raisins. This cake is incredibly moist and flavorful, and I secretly lusted after the recipe for years.
Truth be told, it’s not my recipe at all. It belongs to my mother-in-law, and she doesn’t just give it out to people. I had to earn it. And once I had earned it, she still didn’t just hand it over. I had to apprentice in her kitchen and take notes as I watched her make the cake. I think I even recorded the entire process on my phone.
And it’s a good thing I did because this Holiday Spice Cake is prepared in a way I’ve never seen a cake prepared before. It starts on the stove. Yep, you cook this cake on the stove before you put it in the oven. The 10 minutes on the stove gives the raisins a chance to rehydrate and plump up which makes for a super moist cake. It’s an interesting step but not a difficult one, as this cake isn’t hard to make at all. Secret yes, difficult no. Pour the warm batter into a bundt pan and bake it for a little over an hour. That’s it! And with a generous snowfall of powdered sugar, it becomes the quintessential holiday cake. It’s the Big Guy’s favorite cake of all time. This, for him, brings all the warm and fuzzy feels.
So back to my girl time with Mini Me. After school we took a long walk in the cold with the dogs, which she complained about but secretly enjoyed (this is what I tell myself). By 5pm we had lit the fire in the fireplace, brought our dinners into the family room, and continued our months-long binge of Gilmore Girls. The series is long, and I’m grateful for that because it’s more time I get with Mini Me. It’s kind of our thing right now. I’m about to plate us each a slice of Holiday Spice Cake that we’ll also eat in the family room, snuggled under a big blanket. And that, my friends, is what I call a perfect girls night. Happy Holidays!
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 tsp. ground clove
- 4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 12 oz. box of raisins
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- confectioner’s sugar (for dusting)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Place all ingredients except for the flour and baking soda into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to combine. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Pour the warm ingredients into the flour mixture and fold gently to combine.
Spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter into the bundt pan and smooth the surface. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes. Allow cake to cool in the pan. Turn out the cooled cake onto a serving dish and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.