Retro cake

March 24, 2012  •  Category:



I guess everyone has their own personal notion of what a retro cake is. A retro cake, to me, is the one my mother used to serve when she had her girlfriends over for the purpose of playing bridge or gossiping. Personally, out of the two activities I find gossiping to be  a lot  more fun than spending hours shuffling cards. 

To get back to the cake, her cake was this dense rectangular pound cake studded with hard candied things (angelika and such) that tasted sour and that I would secretly pluck out when no one was looking. Strangely I had a yearning for this cake, wondering if I would find it as boring now as then. 

The cake is a bit boring, but, hey, it is a classic. The major improvement here is that the candied fruits are actually good.

If you go through the trouble of making it, don’t worry, it will be gone fairly rapidly. It freezes well and I would freeze it in individual slices so that whenever you feel like it, you can reach into the freezer, grab a slice and warm it up in the toaster.

 INGREDIENTS: 12 servings

  •  2 cups all-purpose or cake flour (add 1/4 cup if using cake flour)
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter or 1/2 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of extra-fine sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla or orange blossom or rose water or any other flavoring you like
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • Fruits: 1 cup of dried cranberries, golden raisins, dried kiwi or melons or mangoes, diced small
  1. Beat butter (and oil, if using) and sugar till lighter in color. Mix the flour in a bowl with the baking powder and salt. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time and mix thoroughly each time. Add the flavoring. Add the flour mixture gradually and mix until well combined. Add the diced fruits. 
  2. Line a rectangular loaf pan (or 2 if necessary) with parchment paper. Pour the batter and bake in a preheated 350F oven for about an hour. Twenty minutes into baking, you can score the cake with a knife all the way across the pan to form a slit in the middle; this is supposed to help the cake bake evenly. About 40 minutes into baking, check to see if the cake is done by inserting a toothpick in the middle. 
Recipe is loosely adapted from Anahid Doniguian’s Cookbook of Gourmet Cooking.


20 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. rosa says:

    Lovely! I love such old-fashioned cakes.



  2. Belinda @zomppa says:

    I am such a fan of hearty, dense pound cakes!

  3. Pierre says:

    le rétro est encore à la mode !!Bizz ensoleillée de notre capitale !!pierre

  4. Nele says:

    I recently tried Omani version of this pound cake that I found in one cookbook and it was marvelous. The base is basically the same, just add orange juice, orange rind and pieces of dates, also the original recipe calls for nuts, such as walnuts. I did not use the nuts and it was great nevertheless. In Egypt, where I live, they usually add just vanilla, but it is also very popular in here. Probably the most popular cake made at home – because all the other are usually bought from the bakery.

  5. fimère says:

    le retro ça ne s’oublie jamais, il m’a l’air excellent
    bonne journée

  6. Hanan says:

    I love this cake, it’s my favorite, but without the dried fruits.. So funny how you write you used to pluck them out, I still do that! 😉

  7. Mark Wisecarver says:

    Love retro, artisan, etc.
    Not much of a cake eater really but am wondering if might happen to have any of the old Lebanese doughnut recipes. There was one brought to Detroit, the Coffee house across from Belle isle was ours, and I miss that flavor with Turkish Coffee. They were old fashioned “cake” doughnuts, medium in color, no toppings but delicious.

  8. Jeannie says:

    I love simple old fashion cakes like this one, so delicious!

  9. Mark Wisecarver says:

    I think they probably were, was only 12 when Sito passed away.
    Is anything like that common in Beirut where card games and coffee are served?
    For the most part these were all old Lebanese men playing cards. 😉

    • Joumana says:

      @Mark: In my mother’s and grandmother’s time (60s and early 70s) ladies would get together to play cards (pinnacle colonne and other games) and sip tea and eat cakes like this.

  10. Mark Wisecarver says:

    Thanks for sharing that. 🙂
    I was born in 1961. Detroit had a booming Lebanese community back then.

  11. Barbara says:

    There are a couple other advantages to retro cakes like this, Joumana. One…they freeze a dream, which makes them perfect gifts for friends who are homebound for one reason or another.
    The other is, they are simple cakes, and perfect with tea or coffee.
    But then, those retro years were my years! So I’m biased/

  12. Banana Wonder says:

    I love the name of this cake and also never thought about adding dried kiwis(!!) Great idea!

  13. Hanan says:

    Baked this today [without the dried fruits bien-sûr], it was soooo yummy, merci Joumana 🙂

  14. s says:

    this is lovely- this is indeed a retro cake- we call it fruit cake in Pakistan, but your phrase is much better. my in laws play bridge and they eat this cake whilst playing- how fascinating your mum did the same! i actually love this cake, i grew up w it. x s

  15. Alaiyo Kiasi says:

    Retro Cake! I love the name. My grandmother made a cake like this, flavored intensely with lemon, which she kept available for anyone dropping by–like the minister. I think these types of cakes, besides being easy to make, were a form of sweet comfort food. I’m intrigued by the rose water addition. I’ll bet it’s wonderful!

  16. Katie@Cozydelicious says:

    I love the name! I think of coffee cake as retro cake for the same reason – it reminds me of my grandmother’s card parties with the ladies. This cake looks yummy!

  17. Caffettiera says:

    I hated dried fruit too. I imagine it was due to poor quality. And I really don’t get cards as well – my partner loves them. I just don’t have the patience to make and effort and remember the rules.

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