Molasses Layer Cake – A Vintage Church Cookbook Recipe Test

Posted on Jun 12 2013 - 6:53am by RetroRuth

It’s time for some good, old-fashioned cake.

Molasses cake, to be exact.


This week we are going back to the From Ridgewood Kitchens church cookbook for another recipe.  But this time I picked a cake rather than a gelatin because…well…I felt like cake.

Molasses Layer Cake
  • ½ cup butter or vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs (save white of 1 for icing, if desired)
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • ½ cup sour milk *
  • 2 cups flour
  1. Bake in 2 or 3 layers in moderate oven (375 degrees). Use egg white for seven minute icing and sprinkle with cocoanut [sic].
*sub buttermilk for "sour" milk. Also, since this recipe is woefully lacking in instructions, I put together the cake by creaming the butter and sugar and then adding the wet ingredients (buttermilk and molasses combined) alternately with the sifted, dry ingredients in three batches, starting and ending with the wet ingredients. I then baked it at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until the cake was springy when touched in the center.



And here it is! I topped the finished cake with a single recipe of miracle frosting, which barely covered the top and filled the middle, but I still think it ended up looking pretty good. However, if you want more frosting on your cake, I suggest doubling or even tripling the frosting recipe.

Oh, and one note on the cake recipe. I substituted buttermilk for the “sour milk” called for in the original recipe. Through tough trial and error, I learned that our modern milk we buy in the grocery store doesn’t “sour” the way raw milk does. Modern milk just goes bad. So be warned and just use regular milk or buttermilk in this recipe.


A cake cross-section of deliciousness.

I would describe the texture of this cake as “old-fashioned” in that it was more coarse than tender, but it was still moist, with crumbs clinging to the knife after I cut Tom a good-sized piece.

Speaking of Tom, he couldn’t wait to put the cake in his face.

Tom TastingIMG_1472

“How is it?”

“It tastes like molasses.”

“Is it good?”

“If you like eating straight molasses. The taste is pretty strong. Otherwise it is pretty good, and I like the frosting.”

The Verdict: Yummy, If You Like Molasses A Whole Lot

From The Tasting Notes:

Tastes more like a molasses spice cookie than a cake. The cake layers were sturdy and chewy, but not dry. It had a good, strong molasses flavor, so if you don’t care for molasses than I would steer clear of this one. However, if you are looking for a delicious, old-fashioned cake with pronounced molasses flavor, than this is the one!

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit 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 (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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

  1. David June 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    You did an amazing job putting it together and frosting it, even if it tastes like… straight molasses! I do like molasses in small quantities (ginger snaps, barbecue sauce). I wonder how this would be if prepared with pure maple syrup.

    • dkzody June 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      ooh, I like that idea of maple syrup. Molasses is not for everyone. Usually, when I’ve made a recipe using molasses, it only calls for 1/4 cup. That may be the reason this cake is so strong with the flavor. Somebody REALLY liked molasses.

  2. Jen June 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Hm, I actually like molasses, but it does seem like this would be heavy on that flavour! I like David’s idea of adding maple syrup to make up for some of the stronger stuff. 😉

  3. Lisa June 12, 2013 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Its sound really good. I love molasses, so will give this a try for Aunt Lil’s Kitchen!

  4. anonymous June 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Maybe honey? though cakes or cookies made with honey have to be baked at a lower temperature because they burn faster. So – maybe 1/4 cup of molasses mixed with 1/4 cup of white corn syrup?….this is an old fashioned recipe, people actually did eat more molasses in years past. It was plentiful, used on pancakes, and supposed to be good for you, too. But it has faded and is now used in small amounts for flavoring in beans, and of course cookies.

  5. Charlotte June 16, 2013 at 11:14 am - Reply

    This looks really good; really old fashioned. What did you use for frosting?

  6. S S June 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Tasty. But when I made it, the batter made only one cake layer of the same thickness of the ones in the pictures.

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