Thanks To Prunes, The Wait Is Over
If you’ve made it this far into the recipe then you’re obviously open to prunes. I mean hey, they have a bad rap for being associated with senior folks… and for giving the gift of, ahem, “regularity.”
Regardless of prunes’ affiliation with the trots at least 4 generations of my family have loved knocks at bathroom humor even before it was vogue. So I’m not sure why it took me 8 years after recovering Mom’s cookbook to dive into this recipe just because of the word “prune;” I should have been drawn to it!
So in 2000 even though the FDA changed the name of prunes to “dried plums” which boosted sales I say bring on the prunes! They taste great no matter what they’re called and who doesn’t like a little regularity? Plus, it seems that California may have returned to their prune-y roots, making me want to just call this “prune-plumb cake” just to ensure I have all “loose ends” covered (pun intended).
A Prune By Any Other Name…
I smiled when I saw this came from the Fredericksburg cookbook of our family friend “Lela.” Fredericksburg, Texas holds a special place in the hearts of Texans and it’s where Texas-German charm and heritage runs as thick as our state’s love for silky queso. I had a gut instinct this cake had historical origins to our European roots and I was right! Whether it goes by spice cake, election cake or muster cake, this is a delightfully decadent and dense cake that tastes like a warm slice of sweet Christmas drizzled with butter.
What’s different about this cake is the twist of incorporating Texas pecans and vanilla, and commingling them with the fruity smash-up taste of prunes in both the cake and the icing! I think you’ll agree this cake will disappear in a jiffy!
I saw in a recent McCormick video (below): “It’s the recipes we pass on to the next generation that are the reason there’s really no flavor like home.” And I hope this recipe becomes a, ahem, “regular favorite” that hails from Fredericksburg, to Lela, to my Mom, to me, and now to you!
❤ You can enjoy prune cake tabletop warm or cold from the fridge… but my favorite is when it’s just a bit warmed from the toaster oven or the microwave.
❤ 9″ x 13″ loaf pan? This threw me because I thought loaf pans were almost as tall as they were wide. A 9″ x 13″ pan is what I call a sheet cake pan. I’m wondering if I could make a couple of 5″ x 9″ loaf pan cakes out of this!
❤ Prunes’ super power? Fiber, sorbitol, and polyphenols. They act as antioxidants and help keep a clean house.
Total prep: 1-2 hours (includes cooling the cake)
for the cake:
3 | cage free eggs, well beaten
1 ½ cups | sugar
1 cup | salad oil
1 teaspoon | soda
1 cup | buttermilk
1 teaspoon | cinnamon
1 teaspoon | ground cloves
1 teaspoon | allspice
1 teaspoon | nutmeg
1 cup | mashed prunes, cooked
1 cup | pecans, chopped
2 cups | flour
1 teaspoon | baking power
for the icing:
2 tablespoons | butter (my Grandmother insisted on “Falfurrias” brand butter)
1 cup | sugar
2 | cage free eggs
½ cup | sour cream
1 cup | chopped prunes
1 cup | more chopped pecans
1 teaspoon | vanilla
a pinch | salt
iii. What to do
1. In a medium bowl beat the eggs and add the sugar. Beat everything together.
2. In a measuring cup add the soda into the buttermilk, making sure to leave plenty of room as the soda will cause carbon dioxide bubbles to form, so use a larger measuring cup to prevent a “blowout,” (shown).
3. Add the salad oil, the buttermilk mixture and the the rest of the cake ingredients and mix well.
4. Bake everything in your choice of a greased 9″ x 13″ cake pan or three greased 8-inch cake pans at 350°F for about 25 minutes. When done remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a cooling rack, if you have one.
5. After the cake has cooled a bit you can jumpstart your icing! Cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs. Mix with the remaining icing ingredients, transfer into a medium pan and cook over medium-low or medium heat until thick. Spread on cooled cake.
Serves: About 20 (sheet cake style)
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
Who is Lela?
When I was growing up Lela Swinny lived at 3006 Northridge in San Antonio just 2 doors around the corner from my family’s home at 2927 Trailend.
The Swinny family was a delightful bunch of folks and my family spent almost as much time at their house as our own so naturally “fooding” was a part of the times our two families shared.
Mom’s dear friend “Lela” taught me many things ~ the joy of laughing, how to swim in their awesome pool, and how to cook a memorable breakfast treat called “Egg In A Nest,” which is also posted here at Betty’s Cook Nook.
True family fact: Back in the 1970s Lela was throwing out an old desk that caught my Mom’s eye. A coat of red paint later and it was a cornerstone in my brother Tim’s red white and blue bedroom (it was around the time of our Country’s Bicentennial celebration so red white and blue was hot). In the 1990s I painted the desk black and it’s the desk where I author this blog to this day, proving that Lela is still with us, heart and soul!
You’ll find a picture of Lela and me in the “old family photos” tab and you can search for her by name to connect with more of her spirited recipes.
Cheers to two great friends – Mom and Lela!
Our home at 2927 Trailend was decked out in the holiday best every year.
Our family’s signature was a white-light-wrapped Texas mesquite tree in the front yard. Neighbors expected us to don the tree with the shiny lights and so we did. Hundreds of them. Indoors … garland, ribbons and a crackling fire helped trim the season in the best of ways.
Over 40 Christmases later I stumbled upon a recipe folded and tucked deep inside Mom’s cookbook from an old Southern Living Magazine article headlined “Serve Supper After the Trimming,” which made me snicker. Supper? Um, DINNER! I offer my headline option: “Dinner, Decorate and Discotheque!” ;)
I later realized I had unintentionally ignored this hidden recipe for too many months, but this year it piqued my interest when I actually read past the vintage photo on the time-worn page – it contained two different menu ideas that were “quick to prepare and simple to serve.”
In a new era of microwavable meals and drive-thru food on the go, I don’t know if this would still be considered “quick,” but Joe and I found the holiday flight of recipes surprisingly tasty and worthy of a repeat eat. My chosen line-up? This Tomato Bisque recipe followed by Stroganoff Steak Sandwiches, Holiday Cake and Apple Cider – all coming this holiday season here at Betty’s Cook Nook.
However you celebrate the holidays, the deliciousness of food will make it all the greater!
tasting notes ~
♥ If you have old recipes like this one, make sure to take note of the details. A simple search of the photographer’s name “Jerome Drown” landed me to this online article with an interesting story of who he was; a Southern Living photographer, nature lover and conservationist with an awesome mid century modern home in Atlanta.
♥ If you’ve read the original recipe (below) you’ll see we’ve been “gypped” of the Apple Cider recipe. Apparently I could have made a few bucks as a proofreader in a former life. No worries – I’ll find a suitable replacement for the Apple Cider. In the meantime …
2 (10 ¾ ounce) cans | chicken broth
1 ⅓ cups | canned tomatoes
1 cup | celery, chopped
2 teaspoons | onion, chopped
1 cup | carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon | salt, divided into halves
6 tablespoons | falfurrias brand butter, divided
¼ cup | all-purpose flour
2 ⅔ cups | half-and-half, scalded
2 large | tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons | sugar
¼ teaspoon | soda
to taste | paprika
ii. what to do
1. Combine broth, canned tomatoes, celery, onion , carrots and ½ teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Strain and reserve the broth and discard the veggies (sorry, veggies – you served us well)!
2. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan then gradually stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly over low heat for 2 minutes. Gradually add the half-and-half, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring and stirring until thickened. Remove the mixture from heat then stir in the reserved broth from Step 1 (above). Set aside and keep warm.
3. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the fresh tomato and sauté 2-4 minutes. Stir in the sugar, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and soda. Add to the broth mixture, stirring well. Garnish with paprika and serve!
Yield: About 6-8 servings
Here’s a scan of the original recipe!