I read “Lean Years, Creative Cakes” [published on June 30] and was surprised that the recipe was for my Great-Grandma Mary Fritch’s old-fashioned spice cake. We use 1 cup of shortening and 1 cup each of brown and white sugars and 2 cups of raisins. Instead of the salt, ours has 1/2 teaspoon of allspice. We boil the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, cool, and add the 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon soda, and nuts (if desired).
We had never encountered others that made it (except extended family), but I found an almost identical recipe in an Amish cookbook titled “Cooking From Quilt Country” by Marcia Adams. It was called “Amish Christmas Cake.” It had 1 tablespoon each of lemon and orange rind. I know that my great-grandma called her heritage Pennsylvania Dutch.
The cake is delicious served with whipped cream. Often, we make a cooked brown sugar icing for it, as follows:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup half-and-half
Cook to a soft ball stage. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Let set until glossy. Beat and spread on cooled cake.