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Grandma's Great Depression Cake

This depression cake recipe is a tasty trip down memory lane.

Grandmas Great Depression Cake
Grandmas Great Depression Cake
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A delicious spiced cake recipe that is made with cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg, Grandma's Great Depression Cake is easy to make and easy on the budget. Old fashioned cake recipes like this will forever be remembered as some of the best desserts out there. Baked until golden brown, each slice has a bold flavor that is perfect for the colder months of the year. Serve it when it is still warm and you won't be able to stop at just one slice. This is a great cake recipe to serve with tea or coffee for a nice afternoon pick-me-up. It could even be eaten for breakfast, as a sweeter alternative to your regular eggs and toast.

You might notice that this depression cake recipe is missing some common baking ingredients. It's dairy-free and egg-free, because those ingredients were difficult to get during the 1930s. This frugal cake was a great alternative to other cake recipes that used more expensive ingredients. And the recipe turned out to be so delicious that everyone continues to make it today! Our version of depression cake uses raisins and a healthy amount of spice, for a dessert (or snack) that is bursting with flavor.


Preparation Time15 min

Cooking Time55 min


  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Powdered sugar for serving (optional)

Depression Cake Recipe


  1. Preheat oven to 325º degrees F.  Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang.

  2. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine water, raisins, brown sugar, vegetable oil and the spices. Bring to a boil and, stirring constantly, boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile mix the baking soda and salt in water and stir until completely dissolved. Combine flour and baking powder and toss with a fork to combine.

  4. After raisin mixture has cooled, add soda and salt mixture – it will bubble up, so stir well.  Add the flour mixture and stir until a stiff dough has formed and raisins are well distributed. Spoon into prepared pan, smooth the top and bake 55 minutes. 

  5. Remove cake from oven to a cooling rack and let cool 5 minutes, then use overhanging foil to remove cake from the pan and allow to cool completely.

  6. Serve slightly warm as dessert or with morning coffee. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving if desired.  

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