Heirloom Molasses Cake

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I was cleaning out one of my mother’s many closets after she passed away and found a little stack of recipes written in either my grandmother’s hand or some other distant female relative’s tiny writing.

The recipe for Molasses Cake caught my attention. It had measurements like “1 large spoon of butter.” What kind of spoon? I found out after making it the first time that it probably wasn’t a small spoon.

I get cravings for molasses things—not gingerbread (too wintry), but the kind of cakey stuff that’s inside a Shoofly Pie, but without the pie’s crust and the wetness. The first time I made this recipe it was too dry, and it collapsed under the crumbs. So the second time, I added eggs and more butter (think of it as a LARGE spoon of butter, like maybe even a ladle).

It was good! It was moist! It was dark and rich because I use organic molasses, and it’s the dark stuff that’s filled with nutritional goodness. I also used white whole wheat flour, which can really hold up to it in this recipe. It’s total yumness and very quick and easy to make.

Heirloom Molasses Cake


  • 3½ cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1½ sticks butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Mix the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Set aside 1½ cups of the dry mixture.
  2. To the main bowl add ½ stick of the butter, melted, the eggs, molasses, baking soda, and hot water. Stir until mixed together and put in a cake pan.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  4. Take the remaining flour, sugar, and salt mixture and cut in a stick of butter. Mix with your hands until it’s a good crumb mixture.
  5. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the cake mixture and put in the oven.
  6. Depending on the size of your cake pan, you can cook it either for 15 minutes (big, flat pan) or for 40 minutes (small, deep pan). Check with a knife. If the knife comes out clean, it’s done!

We served it with whipped cream. Sigh. Very good and easy!



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8 Responses to Heirloom Molasses Cake

  1. Richard burke September 24, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    thank you, as ever.

  2. Sadhvi Sez September 24, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    This recipe sounds so good, and looks so simple. I will try it since today is the first day that it feels like Summer is in fact, over. the taste of this molasses cake might make the transition easier.

  3. Laurie September 24, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    YUM! Can’t wait to try this! I love shoo fly pie but also, can do without the crust.

  4. Barbara September 24, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Oooo! I think tomorrow just became baking day. I too love the deep, gooey sweetness of a good organic molasses. Time to soothe a craving…

  5. Brenda Carter September 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    This sounds awesome. Can’t wait to try. Question: Would the pan need to be greased & floured?

  6. Donna in Delaware September 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    I so love gingerbread, and make my own because others tend to be too sweet, or not have enough ginger. I will definitely try this. Yes, it’s baking time again! I baked savory chive popovers this past weekend. Delish! Welcome Autumn!

  7. Susan October 29, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Made this cake yesterday. It is as yummy as imagined. I used a 9×13 cake pan. Greased and floured the pan, baked at 350 for 35 minutes. Cake is very moist.

  8. Brian February 12, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    I’ve been thinking about this cake. I have a bunch of old recipes that just list the ingredients. You are supposed to know how to make the recipe. That’s when I’m so happy for the internet.

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