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Raisin cake

Updated: Wed, 8 February, 2023

Raisin cake was originally created in wartime austerity so it’s milkless and eggless – but still full of comforting taste and flavour.

raisin cake

Cake with raisins or raisins with cake?

You’d think a raisin cake is a cake studded with raisins, wouldn’t you? Perhaps with a lot of raisins, like a Christmas fruitcake but still, the fruit being an addition to the batter or dough.

This is not that kind of cake: this is actually MADE OF raisins. And it’s incredibly easy to make: Mary Berry standard of easy.

It goes down rather well with some people: The Weather Man thinks you can never have too many raisins.

wartime raisin cake

A cake made for Bundt tin

I’ve found the recipe at allrecipes ages ago and baked it frequently, its popularity explained above. But when baked in a loaf tin or a round cake tin, it would always come out slightly underbaked in the middle.

That was not necessarily a reason to write it off in my house. We’d start cutting the cake from the outside and politely ignore the centre fiasco.

I must say I’m secretly partial to the gloopy, unbaked bits but that’s because I’m of the ‘it’s so delicious there’s no point baking the batter’ school of thought. But in a seasoned baker I aspire to be it certainly won’t do.

The solution is the Bundt, or angel cake, or tube cake tin. It cleverly takes the middle of the cake out of the equation leaving the cake to bake all round, in the literal and figurative sense.

boiled raisin cake

War Cake

Interestingly, the recipe apparently came about in the post-war egg and milk scarcity. Hence, nearly no dairy; at the time the fat used in it was shortening or margarine if they could get any.

It is unclear post which war exactly this recipe was created as I’ve seen claims for both World Wars. Hence, it is also known as Boiled Cake, Poor Man’s Cake, Wartime Cake or Depression Cake.

With all those raisins it will certainly have a cheering up effect!

How to make raisin cake?

It is truly and literally made of raisins, more than you‘d think possible to use in a single cake. Two hundred grams or a whole one cup – that’s a lot of raisins.

They are boiled with water for ten minutes so so far, so sticky toffee pudding except raisins instead of dates. To that hot mixture butter and sugar are added, to melt organically as the mix cools down.

The dry ingredients are the flour, baking powder and soda, and spices. I like cinnamon and nutmeg – if you prefer, ground ginger or mixed spice could be a good alternative.

raisins and dry ingredients

Eggs are whisked into the cooled raisin mix, then the flour and spices. That’s all: awfully runny batter so if you should want to bake it in a springform tin, it will need to be completely lined with parchment or foil.

raisin cake batter

That’s another reason a Bundt tin is perfect for it.

The cake bakes for up to an hour and it looks lovely out of the tin, naturally glossy. You can dust it with icing sugar or mix a simple cinnamon icing, with 100g icing sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon and enough milk whisked in to reach drizzling consistency.

raisin cake in bundt tin

More easy cake recipes

The easiest chocolate yogurt cake with no butter and no need to melt chocolate. A quick fix, skinny chocolate cake ready to bake in 5 minutes. With not much added sugar, this chocolate yogurt cake is almost healthy.

Doughnut cake, old fashioned Bundt cake that tastes just like a giant doughnut. A recipe for buttery tender cake covered in crunchy sugar coating. Much healthier than oil-fried doughnuts, this doughnut cake is baked in the oven and coated with butter and sugar topping.

Island Kitchen buttermilk cake with raspberries is the easiest in the world. This eggless cake is ridiculously easy to make and surprisingly delicious, considering it has so few ingredients. It can be made with fresh or frozen berries.

More fruit cake recipes

Simnel cake with icing and a marzipan layer inside. Traditional English Mothering Sunday Simnel cake, a sponge rich with fruit, it is also often baked for Easter.

Parsnip loaf cake, festive with orange zest, cinnamon and raisins. It’s made with fresh grated parsnips and has lots of flavour. Very similar to carrot cake though not quite as moist, it’s a good enough Christmas alternative to fruit cake.

Lighter Christmas fruit cake, with plenty of dried fruit but no brandy, flavoured with a little rum. This Christmas fruit cake keeps well for weeks but doesn't have to be made much in advance.

bundt raisin cake

Raisin cake

Servings: 12Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 200g (1½ cups) raisins
  • 500ml (2 cups) water
  • 120g (1 stick) butter
  • 200g (1 cup) sugar
  • 260g (2 cups) flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten


1. Place the raisins and water in a large pan (you’ll be mixing the cake in the same pan), bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Add the butter and sugar and leave to cool until barely warm.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Butter and flour a 21cm Bundt tin.

3. Mix the flour with the spices, baking powder, soda and salt.

4. Whisk the egg into the raisin mixture, add the flour mix and beat in well with a spatula or an electric mixer. It will be very runny.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

6. Cool in the tin, then carefully turn it out onto a plate. Dust with icing sugar or drizzle with icing.

Originally published: Sat, 9 April, 2016

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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