Vintage Recipes: Yum Yum Cake

In my husband’s family they have a Yum Yum Cake I have made before (I dubbed it War Cake when I remade it to be sugar-free in the last version). The first time I made it was in 2011. I revisited it in 2015 as well, using higher end plant-based ingredients.

The cake recipe is a dense but moist treat, that doesn’t call for eggs. Go back far enough and this was a Great Depression era recipe. This version is different from the family one, so I decided to try it out and see how it tasted in comparison.

One thing I liked about this version is it contains butter, and not shortening. While shortening is period correct, I just don’t use it in daily life. And I for sure don’t like the taste of it. Even the high end red palm shortening…just tastes like flat grease to me. Butter is so much better. You could of course keep it plant-based and use “vegan” butter if one wanted.

I’ll pretend I am living on a dairy farm and it’s 1937, OK?

Because this recipe is far, far better to me than the original. It’s the butter, baby.

Yum Yum Cake


  • 1 2/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 2/3 cups rasins
  • 1 2/3 cups cold water
  • 7 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 300 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp warm water
  • ¾ tsp baking soda


Add the sugar, raisins, water and butter to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.

Let rest for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, oil an 8″x8″ glass baking pan. Cut parchment paper to fit it, then spray it with oil as well.

Preheat oven to 325°.

Add the the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to a mixing bowl

Dissolve the baking soda in the warm water, in a small bowl. Add to the cooled raisin mixture, and stir in.

Scrape the raisin mixture into the dry ingredients, stir till mixed in.

Scrape into the prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. Test in the center with a toothpick, it should come out clean. If not bake until done.

Let cool in the pan, on a cooling rack, then cut into squares. Store tightly sealed, preferably refrigerated. It will become more dense with cold, and even more delicious.