Spanish Bar Cake


I’ve never been a fan of spice cake. Now, I say that I’m not a fan, but that does NOT mean that if you put a piece in front of me, I wouldn’t eat it. Quite the contrary, I would eat it, and I would most likely enjoy it. I know. It’s crazy. But it’s cake, and I love cake! Just not spice cake.

Having said all that nonsense, there are times that I’ll get a craving for Spanish Bar Cake. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…. Spanish Bar Cake is basically a spice cake with raisins. But it’s so dense and moist at the same time, and with all of those plump little raisins in every bite, how can I resist?

I’m fickle.
I’m spice cake fickle.

Add cream cheese frosting to the insanity, and I’m over the edge. Throw some walnuts on top, there’s no going back, and you’ll find me heading for that second piece.


Now ask me about spice cake.
And I’ll tell you I’m in love.



Spanish Bar Cake

Just a quick note: I had to call my mom for this recipe, as she is the keeper of all things good. While she was reading her ingredient list to me, she said that it calls for two cups of granulated sugar. But then she said that there was a hand written note that said you could use one cup of granulated sugar, and one cup of brown sugar.

After thinking about it for about one-fifth of a second, she said: “I think that’s what you should do. The molasses in the brown sugar will bring such a great flavor to this cake”.

Mom was right. I love her.

Things to do first:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour a 9” x 13” pan

The Ingredients:
3 cups water
2 cups dark raisins
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar (~or~ one cup granulated sugar plus one cup brown sugar)
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
4 cups flour

In a large saucepan, bring the water to boil over high heat. Add the raisins, vegetable shortening, cinnamon, cloves, and coffee to the boiling water. Remove from heat, and let cool.


In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar(s), and salt until well blended. Add the cooled raisin mixture and beat until well blended, about three minutes.


Pour into prepared 9” x 13” pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.



NOTE: Baking time will most likely vary. While this recipe called for 1-hour baking time, it only took 45 minutes in my oven. Keep an eye on the cake while it’s baking.


Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 – 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
½ cup softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Spread over cake, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts if desired.



44 thoughts on “Spanish Bar Cake

  1. This is so weird. When I was a child my Mom frequently bought a Spanish Bar cake and it was one of my favorites. I was just remembering it the other day and wishing I had a piece, I love how moist it is, the spice and the creamy white icing. I am not a fan of raisins and have been known to pick them out of things but in this cake, no way I would they are so good in the cake. I am so making this. My Mom didn’t make it she bought it, probably in a supermarket but whoever made it as I recall it was fantastic. Thank you for posting this.

  2. I had never heard of a Spanish Bar Cake, and now I wish I had a slice in front of me…

    do you think the frosting is absolutely necessary?
    I love spice cookies, I think this cake would be a favorite here…

    I am pinning this for the near future….

    • It really is a lovely cake! No, I don’t think the frosting is necessary at all. Technically it should have a plain white icing… but of course I went for the full calorie ending! Honestly, it would be delicious plain, or even a dusting of powdered sugar if you didn’t want to go the frosting route. Thank you so much for stopping by.. 🙂

      • Thanks! My “problem” is that my dear husband doesn’t think a cake is a cake without frosting, and I love a simple cake, with at most a sprinkling of powdered sugar. See? Life can be soooo complicated 😉

    • I wanted to be sure that I was answering you correctly, Francesca… so I called the expert (my mom). There was a store called A&P that sold these Spanish Bar Cakes. They were actually very small bars of cake, not as tall as this version, and super, super moist. When that store chain closed, then I believe that was the end of the cakes as well. I’m not certain, but A&P could have been a national chain, or maybe it was just on the East coast.. but it was a very popular cake!

  3. It’s the frosting…definitely the frosting. I love it and wouldn’t quit eating it by the spoonfuls…and how’d you get it so whipping and swirly looking? Love this cake and want some now. You know, I have never, ever bought vegetable shortening. Is it necessary? I always just use butter. Maybe the shortening gives it a fluffy texture or something magical I am missing out on?

    • It really is, Victoria… There’s something to those raisins after they’ve soaked in that boiled spice concoction. They’re just delicious..and you pretty much get one in every bite! If you try it, let me know how you liked it! Thank you so much for stopping by.. 🙂

  4. Oh gosh that sounds just like me – I’m soooo fickle – I’m always changing my mind about things. This sounds gorgeous – I’d never even heard of Spanish bar cake (and I practically live on the Spanish border). I love the addition of coffee and of course the cream cheese frosting. Yum!

    • lol… it is our absolute right to be fickle. 🙂 I’m not sure why it’s called a Spanish bar cake…I tried looking up the origin of the name, but couldn’t find anything. It actually comes from a grocery store chain called A&P that closed years and years ago. I’m not sure if that chain of stores was an East Coast only line, or if it was nationwide.

  5. Haha, you made me laugh! When I started reading I was convinced ‘I do not like spice cake’ when I finnished reading your story and looking at your pictures, I was convinced: “I must have some spice cake”

    • Lol…I think it’s the general consensus that we’d all eat that cream cheese with a spoon! 🙂 It really is delicious..the raisins definitely make it. Ok, the cream cheese frosting really made it, but the raisins are an important part of it as well!! Honestly though? If you wanted to eliminate the raisins, I think you really could. Maybe add some walnuts to replace the missing raisins… Thank you so much for stopping by.. 🙂

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