Friday, December 13, 2019

Mattie Roberts Whitson Was an Awesome Grandmother

I was blessed that my grandmothers were still living when I was growing up and both had quit house-keeping and would come to visit for extended lengths of time. My mom was a teacher, so she especially would love when Grandma Whitson came to stay… and I have to say, some of my best memories of Grandma was helping her in the kitchen.
Matilda Roberts Whitson in New Mexico 

Fran at 15

One precious memory was making a boiled spice raisin cake from scratch with her. She let me help with every step. First, we boiled the spices (wow the kitchen smelled fabulous), then we added raisins to “plump them up” (her words).  While the spices were boiling, we mixed the dry ingredients together.
We did let the boiled mixture cool, and knowing Grandma, I am sure there was something we did in the meantime. She was always busy.  

[While we are waiting on the spices to cool, I will digress and tell another funny memory I have of her. She was, in my father’s words, obsessed with washing clothes. I think she was just obsessed with automatic washers.  😉 Back to the story, she would twist the knob too many times (may have been because she had coke bottle bottom glasses) and my dad would end up having to fix the washer, so he was say…’Mom don’t do any washing.’ Before the day was through, she had done a couple of loads and hung them out on the line. Probably one of the sources of my stubbornness.]

Back to our recipe. After the spices cooled, we added it to our dry mixture, then mixed well. We then poured the mixture in a greased and floured 9 X 13 baking pan and set our timer for 35 minutes. When the timer went off, she let me take the cake out. I was devastated. The cake looked like a ski slope. She just laughed and said, “Sweetie the best tasting cakes are failed ones.” She was right it still tasted great. Never figured out what caused the cake to do that but learned from her nothing was a failure if you found a bright side and learned from the experience.

Years later I wanted to make the recipe for my kids only to discover that Grandma never wrote her recipes down. We lost the best tasting roll recipe because of that too.  I searched cookbooks thinking maybe I could find a recipe that someone else had done that was the same.  Unable to find one, I used my memory and basic cake making skills to recreate her cake.  It was as close as I could get, but the real reason I sought the cake was centered around the memory of being in the warm kitchen after school with my grandmother and just having fun with something great tasting to share with my parents. Ah, days gone by. 

Now the kids have another Matilda Roberts Whitson story. (I have read that the boiled spice cake was invented in the depression when eggs and milk were a premium. 
This was NOT how our turned out.

Boiled Spice Raisin Cake
Wet mix:
1 cup water
1 cup molasses
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups raisins
1 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp pure Vanilla
Dry mix:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan, mix water, molasses, brown sugar, raisins, butter, and the spices. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a separate bowl, mix, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.
Pour into a 13x9 inch glass dish or cake pan that you have greased and floured.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake.

You can frost or not. Makes a great breakfast cake (high in iron).
(the vanilla is my addition... I use vanilla. 😀) franE

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