I made a version of this cake back in July, and since the year will come to an end soon, it seems a good time to try another. This recipe (one of four) for Raisin Layer Cake was contributed by Mrs. C. Stein for the 1906 Berlin Cook Book.
I started by separated the two medium eggs. I creamed the brown sugar and butter together and added the egg yolks. Next I mixed the sour milk (1/2 tsp of vinegar in 1/2 cup of milk) and added it. I mixed the raisins with the dry ingredients (salt, baking soda and flour) and then mixed it with the other ingredients. Finally I whipped the egg whites and folded them into the batter. I spooned the batter into two greased cake pans and baked at 350°F. for 30 minutes.
While the cake baked I started the caramel icing. Sweet milk is simply fresh rather than sour milk so nothing extra is needed. I usually use 1% or 2% milk. I wasn’t sure how much milk to use but based on other recipes in the cook book I prepared 1/4 cup and added 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. It took about two tablespoons of the vanilla flavoured milk to moisten the brown sugar. I put the brown sugar, milk and butter in a saucepan on low heat until it melted. I usually use a heaping tablespoon of butter when the recipe calls for butter the size of an egg. I let the mixture boil and stirred and tested it occasionally. The instructions say to “boil until it strings” and I think I reached that stage. It became caramel coloured and set up quickly on the cake. Unfortunately it also set on my finger when a bit dripped. Be very careful as molten candy sticks to skin and hurts like crazy.
Once the cakes were out of the oven I quickly removed them from the pans and put the caramel icing ont he first layer and then topped it with the other layer. I put more icing on top. There really isn’t enough icing so I had to drizzle the last bit. It does set up quickly so speed is important. I’d also cut out pieces right away too as the icing become crunchy.
Augusta nee Frost and Charles Stein and their ten-year-old daughter Erma are listed in the 1901 census. Augusta was born in 1867 in Germany but came to Canada when she was a year old. Based on information on the Waterloo Region Generations website, Augusta was the oldest of five children. Sadly her next oldest sister died when she was one year and two days old and it was several years before her parents had any more children. Thirty-six year old Charles is a bookkeeper and was an only child. By 1911 the little family includes a 7-year-old niece Margaret Frost and Augusta’s younger brother Herman Frederick Frost. Little Margaret had been born in September 1903 in the USA but came to Canada the same year. Her mother died in 1903. The Steins and Frosts all live at 15 Alma Street. Herman works as an upholsterer in a furniture factory and Charles is a liquor dealer.
The cake itself is quite basic. The raisins are the only flavour in the cake so if you don’t like raisins don’t bother making it. I love raisins so this cake suits me except that it is so plain. The caramel icing makes it much better. The soft cake and crunchy icing is different. A modern cook might want to add some spices to the cake particularly if you don’t plan to use the icing.
RAISIN LAYER CAKE
Mrs. C. Stein
2 egg whites beaten, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup sour milk, pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon soda, 2 cups flour, 2 cups raisins (dredged with flour).
Bake in 2 layers with caramel icing between and over the cake. — Icing: 1 cup brown sugar, wet with sweet milk, flavored with vanilla, butter size of an egg, boil until it strings, take off, beat, put quickly on cake.