Welch’s Grapelade Cake

Posted on Aug 26 2009 - 11:24am by RetroRuth

Welch's001Welcome to this week’s Mid-Century Menu!  I have to confess to a bit of poor planning on my part.  I didn’t put two and two together on this one, and I planned Menu night for the same night that we were suppose to go to a ballgame and eat hot dogs for dinner!  Ah well, when you have a problem, you think up a compromise, right?

So, instead of doing an entire menu, I decided that it would be a neat idea to make some crazy dessert I had my eye on, and then we could eat it when we came home from the ballgame.

And, with that in mind, I started to dig through my cookbooks with an eye out for a showstopping dessert. I found it in the Wonderful World of Welch’s cookbook.

This book was publish in 1968, and I picked it up at a church rummage sale with a ton of late 60’s – early 70’s cooking pamphlets for about 10 cents each.  I adored this book from the very beginning, because the pictures on the front of this thing are just classic. Oh, and the introduction in the beginning of the book, which reads:

“Dear Homemaker:


It gives me great pleasure to endorse ‘The Wonderful World of Welch’s.’

We hope you will enjoy using the unusual and interesting recipes that feature Welch’s products.”

Unusual? Interesting? Unusual AND interesting?  There can’t be any two words more tantalizing for me.  I feel like this was written for me!  Well, for the Mid-Century Menu anyway. And as I paged through the book, I found a ton of possibilities for terror; Saucy Liver (with Welchade), Lobster Catonese (with Fruit Punch), Turkey Glazed with Grape Juice, Spicy Grape Loaf (you don’t even want to know what is in that), and that was only from the Entree section!

But there, right on the front cover, I found my victim.


Welch’s Grapelade Cake. 


That’s right.  A cake made with grape jam, cloves and cinnamon, and then topped with grape juice tinted coconut. Make that a lot of cloves. That has to be a typo.

Anyway, you had better believe I am ready to go!

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All of the assembled ingredients.  Notice the prominent placement of the Welch’s products.  Yes, I did actually get the proper products!

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Getting ready to sift together the dry ingredients.  Except for the jam, this pretty much looked like a standard spice cake recipe to me!

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Creaming the shortening. No butter in this recipe!

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The sugar and shortening creaming.  And there is a LOT of sugar in this recipe.

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Oh, and here’s more sugar!  Over a cup of grape jam. Wow.

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Mixing in the grape jam and eggs. Notice the pretty purple color.

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Now here is where it gets fun, kind of like a science experiment.  As I started adding the buttermilk and dry ingredients, the batter started changing color.

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Still a little purple, but not much anymore.

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Adding the final buttermilk.

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The batter mixed up and ready for the pans.  It is now only slightly purple.

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Three pans full of batter, ready for the oven.  It is going to be a big cake!

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The cakes, fresh from the oven.  I love my little wall oven because it keeps its temp really well, but I hate having to shuffle pans around while they are baking.  All three of my cakes fell! Rrrrr….thank goodness for frosting!

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Assembling cake. I decided to use a cream cheese frosting instead of a butter or boiled icing like the recipe recommended. I thought it would taste good with the grape flavor of the cake, and make umm…..the cake taste good if it really didn’t. 🙂

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Here is another small change I made to the recipe.  I normally don’t make changes, but I figured using the rest of the grape jam as filling for the cake would be allowable.

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Popping the lid on the cake.

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Adding the cream cheese icing. 

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Mixing up the “Lavender coconut”, adding grape juice concentrate.  I also decided to change a bit here, instead of mixing it in a bowl like the directions recommended, I tossed it in a plastic bag like I was breading chicken. It was a lot less mess!

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Applying the coconut to the cake.  By this point, everything was really, really sticky!

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The coconut applied to the sides of the cake. I didn’t bother smoothing out the cream cheese icing when I applied it since I knew that the coconut was going to be smashed on there anyway.  And it is a good thing I didn’t, because it was so humid and sticky out that without the rough spots the coconut would have rolled right off!

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The finished cake, with coconut on the sides and top!

I actually really like how it looks at this point. My grandma would have loved this for a birthday cake, she always loved purple so much!

Ok, so, the cake is finished with no major problems. It smells pretty good, it looks pretty, and Tom is chomping at the bit to get a piece of it. So, I pick up the knife, cut into it, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand…..

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It’s green inside.

“Holy cow!”  I dropped the knife.  “Look at it!  How did that happen??!?!”

Tom leaned over it, poked it and sniffed it. “Yep, it’s green all right.”

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Look at this!  It almost matches the plate!

Maybe it was the mixture of cloves and grape jam.  Maybe it was the heat from the oven.  Maybe it was the other purples of the cake that made the cake itself LESS purple. Either way, that sucker was GREEN!

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But Tom is undetered by the color change.  He dug in with excitement.  Probably even more excitement then if we would have cut it and it would have been purple.

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Mmmmm…it’s green.

“So,” I asked, “how is it?”

He chewed for a while.  “It tastes like cream cheese, ” he said. “And it is really sweet.”  He took a couple more bites. “And there is something else.”

I took a bite, and chewed. “That would be the cloves,” I said.

“There is a lot of cloves, aren’t there?”

I couldn’t reply.  My mouth was stuck closed with grape jam and cream cheese icing.

The Verdict:  Good. Tasted like cloves, sugar and cream cheese.  Not sure what it would be like without the cream cheese icing.  I never really got a mouthful where I said, “That tastes like grape.” And then there was the disturbing green color.

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My unfinished piece.  But don’t worry, Tom took care of the leftovers.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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16 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. sablemable August 26, 2009 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    LOL, now that you know how to make green cake, you’re all set for St. Patty’s Day!!!!!

    Honestly, I can’t see where your cakes fell, Ruth! They look nice! Great job on applying the lavender coconut.

    I wonder if you used allspice instead of the separate cloves and cinnamon if it would taste better. This recipe is similar to jam cake, albeit the coconut.

    Welch’s sure pushed the inside of the envelope out with this “creation” LOL!

  2. Sara in AZ August 26, 2009 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Tom looks preeeeetttty excited to be eating that cake! Yeah, where did your cake fall? They look great to me! Green cake – too funny! In the pics of the raw batter in the pans, it actually looks more gray than purple or green. I really like the purple coconut, I think it looks really cool. As Sable says, now you are all set for St. Pattys Day – all you need now is some Guinness and you are all set!

  3. sablemable August 26, 2009 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    LOL, you’re right, Sara! The batter DOES look gray!

    Pass the Guinness, mate!

  4. RetroRuth August 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Yeah, they fell, guys. They were totally flat in one place each. I cleverly concealed it with photography. 🙂

    It might be better with allspice, Sable. Don’t know if I am ever going to bother to make it again, though!

    It did look gray, Sara! But it still had a bit of a purple cast to it. Baking made it totally green. Hmmm…maybe I could make the cake with Guinness instead of grape jam!

  5. sablemable August 26, 2009 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    I must dig out my recipe for jam cake and try it; I’ve never made one before and now I’m curious to see what color the batter will be since the ingredients are so similar. Maybe if I drink enough Guinness while baking, the batter will turn out whatever color I want it to be, LOL!

  6. Magnarama August 26, 2009 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    I’ll bet you anything that Welch’s has changed the formulation of their jam since that cookbook was printed, and that the change in chemicals resulted in your green cake.

    Looked darned pretty until it was cut into, though. 🙂

    Once again, kudos to Tom The Brave, and gratitude to Ruth for going to the scary places so that we don’t have to!

  7. Sara in AZ August 26, 2009 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    HOORAY for Guinness everyone!!!! Mike is totally obsessed with that beer! You guys are TOO funny. 🙂

    Ruth – Maybe you are onto something……a Guinness cake – oh Mike would so be all over that!

    Sable – LOL! I think you should make the jam cake while drinking tons o’ Guinness. It would probably taste fantastic then and, yeah, you probably would not even care about the color!!! Send photos when you do make your jam cake – and we want to see Guinness in the pics too! he he Yippee!!!

  8. Amy August 26, 2009 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    Well although it looked a bit dubious your husband proved that it tasted normal. Not sure if I’d make it though hmm..

  9. AmberDusick August 27, 2009 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Too bad for the green, the outside was quite pretty! I wonder about the theory another from another comment that the new Welch formula is what made it green. Totally possible!

  10. Andrea August 27, 2009 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Wow, that has to br the most alarmingly coloured cake! I am not sure what is more alarming, the purple from the cake on the cover or the green that your cake surprisingly turned out!

  11. viridian61 August 29, 2009 at 11:02 am - Reply

    The gray batter in the pans looked like concrete! Luckily it did not turn out as hard as concrete. Your posts are great!
    I have a mid-century “Bar Man’s bible” of drink recipes – much more fun 😉

  12. tanja October 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    i love Penzy’s spices!

  13. Lady Ashmire January 24, 2014 at 2:01 am - Reply

    It’s Incredible Hulk cake!

  14. Mark. June 9, 2014 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    Belatedly: the natural color in Concord grapes is I believe an acid/base indicator. Ingredients and baking made the cake go from acidic to basic and the grape color changed to green as surely as litmus paper goes from red to blue. If you add baking soda to red wine or water in which red cabbage is cooked you get something similar.

  15. Lori Ingram April 18, 2015 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Did anyone try adding purple paste colouring to ensure that the cake was purple when baked??

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