Good to Have a Back-up Plan

Made some Spanish Bar Cake on Sunday and it was not bad. It’s a treat I remember from my childhood. There was always a plate of these on the counter of the diner in my small town, and I’ve not had a hankering until recently. I don’t know if it’s my age or that I’m now a grandmother or hormones or what, but I’ve been remembering good food from back in the day and looking high and low for recipes to match.

There’s a long list, of course, and the more I think about it, the more recipes come to mind. My mother’s homemade orange rolls and my grandmother’s raspberry Jell-O dessert. My other grandmother’s fattijmand and lape cookies. A hot sandwich my mother made with a ground ham and olive and cheese spread. Rye bread with Cheez Wiz and crushed potato chips. Warm homemade rice pudding, and my father’s deep fried bread dough with bacon grease and real maple syrup poured all over it. I could go on for a very long while. Oh, yes – my mother’s sage stuffing. Dad’s beef jerky.

One of the great gifts of my life is my love for cooking and baking, and for the exchange of recipes which goes along with it. I got a recipe for bone broth just the other day, and one for jambalaya, too. So much fun to try making something someone else loves. Not all recipes make it into the box, however. Now and then I try something that SOUNDS good, and either it’s too futsy or it just doesn’t taste so good and into the recycle pile it goes. That’s how it was with the maple French toast I tried out recently. It was meant to bake in the oven, and the whole idea of it was delicious, but either I did something wrong or the recipe was off. The bread was SO stuck to the pan and I was something to behold. How frustrating. I spent a good half hour trying to separate the bread from the pan, and ended up tossing it. Pan and all. Yes, I did.

Cooking and baking is no cakewalk. It’s more like climbing a mountain. Takes energy, an adventurous spirit, endurance, curiosity, the ability to forgive oneself, and patience. Among all the other things. There has been many a day when whatever it is I’m making ends up in the garbage disposal or the dog’s dish. Many a day when I’ve ended up in tears over something I thought was a sure thing that ended up a glorious flop. Many a day when I looked at Mr. S and asked if we might have a pizza delivered, or how ‘bout we go out for dinner tonight? And then there was the day I added triple the baking soda to the oat bars without realizing it, and later watched the ladies at church pucker up after taking a bite. Oh, my.

Today I’m going to make a salad. You know the one. Cottage cheese and lime Jell-O and pineapple, just for the heck of it. It’s been a while, and if it doesn’t taste just right, no matter. I’ve got a box of tapioca for Plan B. Good to have a back-up plan. Sure is.

Here’s one from the memory books. I searched high and low, found something similar and made a few adjustments. Some things stand well the test of time, and this is one of ‘em.

A&P Spanish Bar Cake

2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 T cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice, ground
1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups applesauce
2 medium eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup raisins (plump in warm water, drain)

8 oz cream cheese …softened
4 T butter, softened
2-3 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 T lemon juice
Walnuts are an option, half a cup chopped or so

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and baking soda. Then add the cocoa, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and allspice. Mix well. Add the vegetable oil, applesauce and the beaten eggs. When all of the above is mixed, add the plumped raisins. Put in a greased and floured 9×13 cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to35 minutes in a pre-heated oven.

For the frosting, mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and lemon juice together. Spread on the cake. To make a layer cake, just like the original Spanish Bar Cake, cut the cake into 2 pieces, then spread the frosting between the layers and on the top.



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