Poor Man's Cake Recipes

Recipes of this type have been popular since the Great Depression and can be served as a simpler, less expensive alternative to the traditional fruitcake during the holidays too. This page contains poor man's cake recipes.

May 19, 2010 Flag
12 found this helpful

Very similar to spice cake, this recipe has been handed down in my family for generations. It is called Poor Man's Cake because you don't need milk, butter or eggs to make it. During the depression, these were expensive and during the War (World War II) they were rationed. It is an excellent, moist cake that needs no frosting. It is always a big hit at potlucks.


Wet: Dry:


Combine all ingredients in saucepan, bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool at room temperature. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into a large, generously greased and floured cake pan (I use a 13 x 9 inch pan) and bake at 325 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes. Center should be firm and a clean knife or toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Allow to cool before cutting.

Source: Knox family recipe

By dove947 from Millinocket, ME

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May 19, 20100 found this helpful

This is also called a 'War Cake'. It is a great one too!

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May 19, 20100 found this helpful

Great! A vegan cake :) I can't wait to make it.

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December 5, 2005 Flag
0 found this helpful

I lost my recipe for a very moist poor man's cake. it was dark brown in color and very moist. I tried a recipe from the internet, and it was not at all like my favorite one. It came out lighter in color, and somewhat dry. Does anyone have this very moist poor man's cake recipe? I would appreciate it!

P.J. from Delaware

December 8, 20060 found this helpful

PJ...I love your comments about the cake being expensive. My mother said that same thing! She said they only thing it is missing is eggs.

It was about 50 years or more ago that she made this cake. I couldn't find her receipt...so thanks for sharing yours.

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August 21, 20080 found this helpful

I think this may be the recipe you were looking for. I got it off the internet because I'd lost my recipe, too. Thanks to Mrs. Dorothy David, we can both enjoy an old favorite. Good luck.

Bonnie N.

Title: Poor Man'S Chocolate Cake


3 c flour

2 c sugar

6 tb cocoa

2 ts baking soda

1 ts salt

12 tb oil

2 tb vinegar

2 ts vanilla

2 c cold water


Notes: By Mrs. Dorothy David, Albrightsville. The Times News, PA

In greased pan 13x9, mix all ingredients until smooth. Bake 350ø 40 to 45 minutes. Do not overbake. Frost if desired. (see below)

Poor Man'S Frosting -- Yield: 4 To 6 Servings


1 c milk

1/4 c flour

1 dash salt

1 c sugar

1/2 c margarine

1/2 c vegetable shortening - such as crisco

1 t. vanilla


In saucepan, cook milk, flour & salt till thick.Cool well. In small mixing bowl add sugar, margarine & shortening. Beat well with electric mixer. Add flour mixture & 1 t. vanilla. Beat till fluffy and stiff like whipped cream.

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August 21, 20080 found this helpful

I sent you feed back regarding your search for the Poor Man's Chocolate Cake, but just now I found another recipe on line that I think is much closer to the one I remember and may be the same for you. Good luck!

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September 15, 20080 found this helpful

This is the one my grandmother always made. It is dark and very moist.

Stew one pound of raisins in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes. In the same pot add 1/2 cup of shortening and stir until melted. Add 1 cup cold water, 2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Then add 2 more cups of flour on top of the baking soda (if the baking soda hits the warm water it will start to fizz too soon). Add 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and either allspice or cloves (I used allspice). Mix in original pot and pour into a greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, turn oven off and leave cake in for 5 more minutes. Cool completely before covering.

hdharley @ verizon .net (remove spaces to email)

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August 22, 20100 found this helpful

November 10, 2006 Flag
0 found this helpful


  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 2 rounded Tbsp. shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of each of the following:
  • salt
  • allspice
  • nutmeg
  • cinnamon
  • ginger


Cook raisins and water down to 1 cup juice. Add soda and shortening to liquid while warm. Add sugar and flour (enough to make light batter - will not be stiff), baking powder, salt, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Mix well and bake at 350 degrees F until done.

By Robin from Washington, IA

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March 5, 20150 found this helpful

What suggested amounts for salt and spices?

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