This is a very special holiday cake that my Dad's stepmother (aka Grandma Brown) always made every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter in our family. It was distinctively dark in color, almost black, because of the cocoa powder. But the flavor is somewhat like pumpkin pie, with an extra rich "cloves" flavor. The taste of the spices in the bread really don't come to their full flavor until the next day... We NEVER ate this cake fresh out of the oven, for this very reason. Grandma would always make a few loaves a day ahead, wrap them in foil and let them rest at room temperature until the next day-- when we would all start carving into it and spreading butter on the slices! Ahh, the memories...
Step 1 Ingredients:
1 cup seedless raisins
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
3 table spoons shortening
3 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Step 2 Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. In a medium sized pot, bring Step 1 ingredients to a boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
2. **Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.** This is a very important step in the making of this cake. Adding the dry ingredients while the mixture is too hot will ruin the batter and make the baking soda activate too soon.
3. Add the teaspoon of vanilla extract.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Mix Step 2 ingredients into the pot with Step 1 ingredients.
6. Coat baking pan(s) with shortening and a light dusting of flour. Use 2 pans for smaller loaves, 1 pan for a larger loaf.
7. Pour batter into pan(s). Bake 1 hour, remove from oven and place on a flat protected surface to cool.
8. After cake is cool, remove from pan carefully, loosening the edges from the pan with a butter knife. Wrap in plastic to store.
Serve either at room temperature, or reheated if you wish. Its best to store either wrapped in plastic at room temperature, or refrigerated.