The squares can be cut into 12 large or 24 smaller portions. They are good at room temperature, but even better when served warm. If you want to gild the lily, top them with scoops of good quality vanilla or ginger ice cream. Nothing fancy–just simple and delicious– this baked dessert of yesteryear was comforting to serve on a crisp, cool autumn day.
Molasses Spice Cake Squares
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, divided, plus extra for flouring baking pans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing baking pans
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsulfured molasses (See note.)
1 cup cold brewed coffee
1 cup dark or golden raisins
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (See cooking tip.)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and butter and flour the parchment paper.
2. Mix together 1 cup flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger; set aside. In a mixer on medium speed, cream the butter for one minute. Gradually add the sugar and cream until sugar is well dissolved and mixture is light in color, about 3 to 4 minutes. (It will still be slightly lumpy; that’s okay.) Stop the machine to scrape down sides of the bowl if necessary.
3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Beat in the molasses until blended. Add the coffee and beat just until blended. Add the flour/spice mixture and mix until combined, 1 minute or more. Stop machine to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary
4. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and stir in the remaining flour, the raisins, and the nuts until combined. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and cool 15 minutes.
5. Loosen the edges with a sharp knife and gently invert onto a work surface. Remove parchment. Cut into 12 large (approximately 3-inch) squares or 24 (approximately 2-inch squares). Serve warm or at room temperature dusted with confectioners’ sugar. (Squares can be made ahead; cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.) Makes 12 large or 24 small squares.
Note: Both sulfured and unsulfured molasses are available. The latter is lighter and has a cleaner flavor.
Cooking tip: To toast walnuts, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and cool.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2014
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