Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Monday, October 4, 2010

St. Francis' Poor Man's Tonsure Cake

Just in case you are a reader here, but not a reader at Catholic Cuisine, I am posting the recipe for today's feast day dessert: St. Francis' Poor Man's Tonsure Cake. The tonsure is, of course, St. Francis' hairdo (for lack of a better word). St. Francis, in the practice which many monks, friars and other religious adopted, clipped his hair away from the top of his head, creating a ring of sorts, of hair around the sides of his head. A ring-shaped cake resembles the tonsure, and the cake recipe, a Poor Man's Cake, is a perfect cake for the saint who left the riches of his family to live among and serve the poor.

The cake recipe has been passed down from my 94-year-old grandma. It is called a Poor Man's Cake because when my grandma was young, butter and eggs -- traditional cake ingredients -- were dear (expensive), and raisins, nuts, and spices were plentiful.

This cake would also be wonderful for St. Anthony's Feast Day, on June 13, as he was also a Franciscan (and thus sported the tonsure) and is patron saint of the poor.

Poor Man's Cake

Printer Version

3 cups flour
2 cups water
⅓ cup shortening
½ lb. raisins (I estimate this to be about 2 cups)
1 cup brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. baking soda
½ t. baking powder
1 cup walnuts

Grease and flour bundt or ring pan.
Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place water, shortening, raisins, sugar, cinnamon and cloves in saucepan over medium heat. Cook to boiling and boil for 5 minutes.
Cool completely.

Mix flour and baking powder in a large bowl.
Dissolve baking soda in 1 t. water.
Add raisin mixture and baking soda mixture to flour mixture. Add nuts.

Spoon into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until toothpick comes out clean (my ring pan requires less baking time than my bundt).

Cool 15 minutes.
Turn out of pan and cool completely on a baking rack.

Frost with butter or cream cheese frosting of your choice, or top with the thick butter glaze below.

2 T. butter, melted
2 c. powdered sugar
2-4 T. milk
1 t. vanilla extract

In a bowl, mix melted butter with powdered sugar, 2 T. milk, and vanilla until blended (no lumps) and a thick drizzling consistency, adding a little more milk if necessary.
Spoon over the crown of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.


Charlotte (WaltzingM) said...

It looks delicious! If I didn't have cookie dough already chilling in the fridge, I would be whipping this up! Can you send me a slice? :)

Aimee said...

I LOVE this cake! I have an almost exact replica of this recipe from my own grandmother, except she calls it "war cake" because all the "good" ingredients were rationed! She has also been known to call it "poor man's fruitcake" when we make it at Christmas time, since she doesn't want to talk about war at Christmas. :) We make ours in loaves, and I've never thought of doing it in a ring. Maybe I'll have to see if I have time to fit this recipe in tonight.

Unknown said...

Saving you a piece!

I love a recipe passed down by grandma. Not only do I get to eat yummy cake, but I get to think about grandma while I'm baking! I hope you find some time. It's really very no-fuss.

Abby said...

It's so interesting how the price of the ingredients has flip-flopped! My grandmother's recipes are my favorites - for many reasons. What a nice cake!