Mrs. Magary’s Spice Cake


Grandma Dora and Grandpa in front of their log cabin home as newlyweds.

When my grandparents were first married, they lived in a small log cabin on the top of a hill, looking over a pond.  They had nothing, but they were happy.  They were married for many years, where they worked hard and raised a family.  My dad said he doesn’t remember them celebrating their anniversary.  Perhaps he never noticed because there was never spare money to do anything fancy, but I’m sure they celebrated in their own simple way.

My parent’s just celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary.  We had a small luncheon at our house with a few of their friends.  It was potluck style.  Everyone brought salads to share.  I decided to make the dessert, the anniversary celebration cake.  I flipped through Grandma Dora’s recipe box and found Mrs. Magary’s Spice Cake.  It looked like a simple, but yet elegant cake, with it’s Ground Raisin Glaze.

Spice Cake Recipe1

Spice Cake Recipe2

Mrs. Magary’s Spice Cake

  • Yolks of 3 eggs, white of 1 (other 2 whites for glaze)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sour milk or buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • A little cloves or nutmeg (I put in 1/8 teaspoon cloves.)
  • 2 cups flour

Cream eggs yolks, 1 egg white, butter and sugar.  Combine dry ingredients.  Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk a little at a time until batter is formed.  Generously grease and flour a bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 36-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Ground Raisin Glaze

  • Whites of 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup ground raisins

Beat egg whites.  Boil sugar and water to make a syrup.  Pour syrup over beaten egg whites.  Mix in ground raisins.  Serve warm, drizzled over cake.

(A half recipe of the Ground Raisin Glaze would be plenty.  Though you could freeze the extra for another time.)

Spice Cake IngredientsI gathered my ingredients and got started.

Spice Cake Sugar Eggs Butter I started by creaming together the eggs, 1 egg white, brown sugar and butter.

Spice Cake Dry Ingredients

Then I mixed all of the dry ingredients together and set the bowl aside.

Spice Cake Alternating

If you don’t have buttermilk or sour milk, you can make buttermilk.  Measure 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice and pour it into the bottom of a 1 cup measuring cup. Then fill the rest of it up with milk.  I did this and began the process of mixing the batter together.

Spice Cake Batter

I slowly alternated adding the buttermilk and then the dry ingredients mixture, little by little, into the creamed ingredients in the Kitchenaid, until the batter was smooth.

Spice Cake in Bundt Pan

I greased (and later learned that I should have greased it MORE and floured it too) my bundt pan and added my ingredients.  I popped it into my oven, at 350 degrees, and started the timer.  There was no temperature or time on the recipe, so I guessed, slowly adding time as needed while it baked.

Spice Cake Baked

While it was baking, I  kept commenting how it smelled like Christmas in our house.  I think it was the cloves, which I don’t use very often.  After 38 minutes in my oven, the toothpick came out clean.  It was done.  I pulled the golden-brown beauty out of my oven.

I left the cake to cool for about 20 minutes before inverting onto a cake plate.  This is where I ran in to trouble.  After the 20 minutes was up, my bundt cake wouldn’t budge!  How could something so beautiful be so stubborn?!  (Sounds like what my husband says about me. Ha!) I began doing some research, and found a bunch of tips, which I will share.

Loosen the sides of your bundt cake with a rubber spatula, not a knife, as the knife will scratch the insides of your pan.  (Mistake number one.  Oops!  Way to ruin your new bundt pan, Wendy!  You know, the one that you bought to color coordinate with your kitchen!  Ugh!)  Before you begin, GENEROUSLY grease your bundt pan.  I thought I had, but apparently I wasn’t generous enough.  You can also flour it, too.  Specifically for chocolate cakes, but you can flour other kinds too if you wish.  (I WISHED I had read that before I put in the batter!)  So I was in a dilemma.  You can’t go back after it’s baked!  I read on a website that you can steam your bundt cake out, so I thought I’d try that.  I boiled water in a tea kettle, placed a kitchen towel in the bottom of the sink and poured boiling water over it, just enough to wet it, not so it was dripping.  Then I laid the towel over the bottom of the bundt pan while it was inverted on the cake dish.  It popped right out!  Whew!  It was a MIRACLE!  Crisis averted!!

Deep breath…….Now it was time to make the Ground Raisin Glaze.  What were ground raisins?  Do you buy them ground or grind them yourself or what?  I’d never heard of them, so I went back to the computer and did some more research.

Raisins have tendency to clump up in baking recipes, so they are ground to avoid this. To make ground raisins, you boil them in water for five minutes, let them cool, and then put them in a food processor, chopper or blender.  They look almost pureed when you are finished.

Spice Cake Raisins

The recipe calls for 1 cup of ground raisins.  I knew that I’d need more than a cup of whole raisins to end up with a cup of them ground.  I measured in 1 cup and then threw in extras with my hand.  Probably about a half cup.  I boiled them for five minutes, drained the water and left them to cool.  Once cool, I threw them in my chopper.  I ended up with one cup ground raisins, which I set aside.

Spice Cake Egg Whites

I beat the egg whites by hand in a bowl.

Spice Cake Cooking Sugar

Next I brought the sugar and water to a boil.

Spice Cake Raisins in Frosting

Then I poured the boiling syrup over the eggs whites, which seemed to cook them just a little.  I added the ground raisins and whisked them all together.  The Ground Raisin Glaze was completed.

Spice CakeI served Mrs. Magary’s Spice Cake by slicing a piece and drizzling Ground Raisin Glaze on each plate.  You could put it on the whole cake, but I was afraid that any leftover might have gotten soggy.

Our friends at my parent’s anniversary party thought it was a very good cake, totally different from typical, box cake mixes.  It had the consistency of a quick bread, like our first entry, Date and Nut Cake.  They suggested that if someone didn’t like raisins, they could still make the cake, but use other glazes or frostings.  Raspberry was mentioned.  I thought cream cheese frosting would be really good on top too.  A simple powdered sugar glaze, drizzled and hardened on top would be not only easy, but elegant.

My parent’s enjoyed their anniversary luncheon.  I hope that Mrs. Magary’s Spice Cake helped to make it a little more special.  It really was a beautiful, celebration cake!

Happy Baking!



Raspberry Pie – A Bonus Recipe

Raspeberry Pie

I have been making this recipe for berry pie for years.  Like the zucchini bread recipe, this one is my mom’s recipe, not my grandma’s.  But, since it is so delicious and this is fruit season, I thought I would share it with you as a bonus recipe.

 Raspberries in strainer

I have always made this recipe with strawberries and strawberry jello (which I highly recommend you try as well), but since I had an abundance of raspberries on hand, I decided to try it with raspberries and raspberry jello.  I used a graham cracker pie crust, but I will give you the crust recipe that goes with this pie because it is super simple and I use it in all different pie recipes.

Fresh Berry Pie


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Combine with a fork.  Press into the pie plate with your fingers and prick with the fork many times.  Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned at 425 degrees.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water

Cook until thickened.  Remove from the heat and add 1/4 cup jello (flavor of the berries used), cooling slightly.  Add berries to cooled crust.  Pour filling over berries.  Chill.  Whipped topping can be used if desired.

Raspberry Pie Slice

This recipe can be made with raspberries and raspberry jello, strawberries and strawberry jello, or blueberries and peaches with peach jello.  I think the best combination I ever made with this recipe was strawberries, raspberries and blueberries with strawberry jello.  I made it for the 4th of July and it was a hit!  Just like orange ice, this simple no-bake pie is a classic summer dessert.  It is a delicious pie that looks like it took hours to make.

Happy Baking!


Butterscotch Pie

Since my husband found out he’s not allowed to eat chocolate, desserts have become a real challenge, or shall I say disappointment, at my house.  In my opinion, all desserts should involve chocolate in some way, to make them worthy of eating.  It’s not that desserts without it are bad, but chocolate always makes everything better!  When I find a recipe that calls for it, I have a battle in my mind.  “Should I make this delicious chocolate dessert that he can’t eat and has to watch the rest of us eat or should I be nice and make something else?”  Most of the time I make something else.  Just his luck, I was having one of my, “be nice and make something else” moments when I ran across Grandma Dora’s recipe for Butterscotch Pie.  While it wasn’t chocolate, it certainly sounded delicious!  I pulled it out of the recipe box and went to work.

Butterscotch Pie Recipe Butterscotch Pie (With a few tweaks.)

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons flour (I added another Tablespoon to make it thicker.)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg (I put in the whole egg so I didn’t waste any of it.)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Add all ingredients into a small saucepan.  Turn on to medium heat and whisk constantly.  Bring to a boil.  Whisk one minute while boiling, until sauce is thick and creamy.  Pour into baked pie shell.  Cool in refrigerator overnight or until set.  Cover with Cool Whip and serve cold.

Butterscotch Pie IngredientsThis is a pudding type pie, so you only need a bottom crust… bonus!  I love it when I have a pie that doesn’t require a double crust!  I happened to have one of Pearl Curtis’ Pie Crusts all baked and ready to go so I quickly pulled out the ingredients for the filling, which are ones that everyone has on hand, and got started.

Butterscotch pie pouring milkIt really couldn’t have gotten much simpler.  I measured everything into the saucepan, put it on the stove top on medium heat and whisked constantly.

Butterscotch pie mixed in panAs the filling began to warm up, the butter melted and it looked like a beautiful, though thin, butterscotch sauce.  I continued to whisk and brought it to a boil.  Once boiling, I timed it for one minute.  The filling got thick and glossy.

Butterscotch Pie in Shell

After the filling had cooled for a minute, I poured it into the baked pie shell and popped it into the refrigerator to cool.  I left it overnight, though it’s not necessary.  It just needs enough hours to set.

Butterscotch Pie with Cool WhipIf you can’t have a dessert with chocolate, then you should at least have, my favorite, Cool Whip!  I thought it helped to fill in the rest of the crust nicely too.

Butterscotch Pie SliceWe had family stopping by the next day for a visit, so I made sure to get this out when they arrived.  I thought it would be a nice treat while they visited and besides, how many pies, cookies and cakes can one family eat?!  We managed to polish off the whole pie that afternoon.  My brother-in-law compared the flavor to Mrs. Sanderson’s butterscotch ice cream topping, but thicker…..and homeade!!  I thought it was a pretty nice compliment, especially for how easy it was to make.

I did receive a couple of complaints about the pie.  There were a few people who were upset that they weren’t there to try it.  There were also the complaints from the ones who only go to eat one piece!  Sounds like I will be making Butterscotch Pie again soon!

Happy Baking!




Elmer Smead’s Graham Bread

When I first found this recipe for Graham Bread, I was interested in two things.  First, who is Elmer Smead?  Second, what is graham flour?


Elmer Stead’s Graham Bread Recipe

I thought it was unique that a man had given my grandma this recipe.  All of the other recipes I looked at, were given by a woman, if they had a name on them.  I thought the first question would be easy enough to get an answer to.  My grandparents lived in a small rural community where everybody knew everybody.  I found my dad and asked him, “Who is Elmer Smead?”  He said, “I don’t know.  Why, did he call or something?”  Okay, so maybe the answer to the first question was going to have to remain a mystery.  When I told my dad he was the person who had given Grandma Dora this recipe and did he remember him he said, “Never heard of him.”  Oh well, at least I would be able to find out if this mysterious Elmer Smead was a good cook or not after I made his bread.


My Grandpa with my Dad on the old tractor on their farm.

Before I made Elmer’s bread, though, I would have to find out what graham flour was.  I did a little research for this second question.  First, I looked on a box of graham crackers and sure enough they had graham flour in them.  Interesting, but not really that helpful.  So, I googled graham flour and found that it is a specialty flour that is also known as whole wheat pastry flour.  I have purchased and used whole wheat pastry flour from the Amish bulk food store we go to when we are up north, so I knew what that was.  And since I was headed up there this summer, I bought a bag to use in this recipe.

This recipe ended up being very simple to put together.  The recipe had only a list of ingredients and no instructions at all.  I decided to cream the brown sugar and shortening.  I then added the egg and mixed well.

graham bread 001

Sour milk and dry ingredients ready to be added to the creamed ingredients.

I combined all of the dry ingredients and then added them alternately to the creamed ingredients with the sour milk.

graham bread 003

Batter in the loaf pan ready to go into the oven.

I then decided to grease one loaf pan and pour the batter into the pan.  I set the oven to 350 degrees.  I baked it for 30 minutes.  The top was a nice crusty brown, but the inside still seemed a little undercooked.  So, I let it go about 10 more minutes and it was done.

Elmer Stead’s Graham Bread

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soda
  • 2 cups sour milk (I put in 2 tablespoons lemon juice and then filled the 2 cup measure the rest of the way with milk.  You can also use vinegar in place of the lemon juice.)
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 cups graham flour

In a mixing bowl, cream brown sugar and shortening.  Add the egg and mix well.  Combine all of the dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients alternately to the creamed mixture with the milk.  Pour the ingredients into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

graham bread 004

Elmer Stead’s Graham Bread

Graham bread has a very distinct, earthy flavor.  I would compare it to corn bread in some ways.  It is very good with honey.  It is a very healthy and delicious addition to any meal.  Thank you for the recipe Elmer Smead!  You ended up to be a good cook, whoever you are.


Graham Bread

Happy Baking!


Peach Whip


Grandma Dora and Grandpa in the back yard of the “brown house” down the road from their farm house.

Family get togethers often pop up during the summer.  We had one coming up, with my husband’s, mother’s side of the family.  Hamburgers were on the menu for the main dish.  Everyone was asked to bring a side of some kind to go along with it.  Now, being the mulit-tasker that I am, I decided it would be in my best interest to use one of my Grandma Dora’s recipes.  That way I’d be getting my side dish and a blog entry ready at the same time.   So, I pulled out the recipe for Peach Whip.  Fruit salads, are such a “picnicky,” potluck food and it seemed appropriate.  I also thought (which was the real reason I picked it) that it seemed like it wouldn’t require a lot of effort, which was good, since I was in a pinch for time.

PW -Recipe

Grandma Dora’s Peach Whip recipe was extremely vague.  I’d never made a jello salad before so I did some research on the computer before I started.  There were tons of fruit and jello salad recipes, but none with her combination of ingredients.  It was intriguing to me how unique this recipe was.   Grandma Dora’s recipe, with my details, is as follows:

Peach Whip

  • 1 small box lemon jello
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup peach juice
  • 1 cup peaches, mashed
  • 1/2 container Cool Whip

Mix boiling water and lemon jello packet until dissolved.  Set aside.  Drain peach juice from can and add water until you have 1 cup.  Add to jello.  Mash peaches and mix them into jello mixture.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Chill in the refrigerator overnight or until set. Stir before serving.

PW - Ingredients

While I was boiling water in my tea kettle, I measured out the peaches and peach juice.  (I doubled the recipe because I was taking it to a family reunion.)

PW- Mashing Peaches

Then I mashed the peaches.

PW- Mixing Cool Whip

After the water had boiled, I measured out a cup and stirred in a box of the jello until it dissolved.  I added a cup of peach juice and the mashed peaches.  Then I stirred in the Cool Whip and put it in the fridge to set until morning.

Peach Whip

In the morning, I mixed up the Peach Whip and packed it into the cooler to take to the reunion.  It was served along side of the dessert, for those who didn’t want cake.  It was a light, fluffy salad.  The lemon jello gave it just the right amount of tartness, but it was also sweet because of the peaches and Cool Whip.  Peach Whip is a jello salad that could be served as a side with a meal or as a summer dessert.  The extended family really seemed to enjoy it!  I was glad that I had chosen to make it and was really happy it was so simple!

On Grandma Dora’s recipe card, she also listed the ingredients for another jello salad.  I didn’t try this one, but perhaps you will!  As usual, she only listed the ingredients below:

Lime Pear Salad

  • Lime jello
  • Cream Cheese
  • Pears

I would make it following the same directions as I did for Peach Whip.  Boil water and dissolve with lime jello.  Add pear juice and mashed pears.  Mix in cream cheese.  Refrigerate until set.  Stir before serving.

I hope you enjoy these delicious summer jello salads!  They are simple and easy to add to any meal!

Happy Cooking!