Brownstone Front

March 20, 2009


You know, while visiting with my elderly cousin and perusing her family cookbook I came across a cake recipe that my family loves (I don’t) and hasn’t had since my Nana passed away.  The reason they haven’t had it is that although the recipe exists, she baked using a china teacup for her measurements…and it is not exactly 8 ozs dry or liquid measure and her recipes are geared toward it.  Now you’d think well just measure it up and see what the difference is and adjust from there!  Not so simple.  The favorite baking cup went to my favorite cousin and she is in Okinawa while her belongings are safely stashed at Langley till she retires.   I was delighted to find the family recipe in my great aunt’s book…because she didn’t have Nana’s special cup to work with so it must turn out ok! 

First I need to get past the notion that the Brownstone Front we know and most of us love is not a dense chocolate cake like the customary Brownstone Front.  Rather, it is a dense spice type cake.  My Nana always served it uniced…I think it would benefit immensely from a cream cheese icing.  But I don’t like spice cakes so I probably shouldn’t venture any guess at all.  I also don’t like walnuts which my Nana’s version was chock full of.  This one is not.  But regardless, it’s a spice cake already and not chocolate and I always wonder if there is really any other kind of cake BUT chocolate!  Except my Nana’s chocolate cake recipe which I did not like at all but my dad and brothers and almost everybody else raved over.  But that’s a different story.  For now, here’s Brownstone Front as we know it in my family for years and years.  My Nana’s grandmother was an innkeeper’s wife back in Wales so perhaps this recipe is circa 19th century Wales…and they just attached the Brownstone Front name to it.   Me?  I loved her banana cake.  That’s a recipe for another day.  Anyway.  I digress.  Here’s the recipe.

Brownstone Front   350 degrees

1/2 Cup shortening and 1  1/2 Cup Brown Sugar.  Blend both together well.  Add 3 eggs.  Mix in 1 Cup sour milk (Nana always made this with a smidge of vinegar right into the ilk then stir till curdled), 1 tsp. Baking Soda, 1 lb. raisins (boiled and cooled) NOTE:  My Nana would have done 1 Cup raisins and 1 cup chopped walnuts.   2 Cups flour and 1 tsp each of vanilla, cinnamon and cloves.  Bake per usual…greased square or rectangular cake pan, till tester comes out clean.  (I added this last part for clarity…but let me say this.  The old family recipes did not have these clarifying details.  I think they just thought you knew these things.)   Oh.  Try it with some cream cheese frosting and don’t listen to the whispers of horror my Nana is whispering into my ear from the great beyond at such a suggestion as that.



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