Warwick Cake

A type of gingerbread cake with coffee and raisins.

Some cakes are printed in a newspaper and become hugely popular, like German’s Chocolate Cake. Others are printed and then vanish into a stack of old newspapers, forgotten.

Warwick cake is from the latter category. I put off posting it for a few weeks trying to locate the source, until I finally broke down and started using commercial archives. I found where A.D. got the recipe–it appeared in the November 19, 1920 edition of the Sandusky (Ohio) Register, in Laura A. Kirkman’s syndicated Efficient Housekeeping column (sorry, can’t link it, from a pay-per-view source):

Warwick Cake: Mix 1 cup brown sugar with 1 cup molasses, 1 cup milk and 1 cup coffee, then add 1 well-beaten egg. Mix and sift 2 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ginger, then add 1 pound of seeded raisins and combine the two mixtures. Turn into a greased and floured round cake-tin and bake for 1 hour in a moderate oven. Dust with sugar when you take it from the oven.

The same recipe also appeared in the Hamilton (Ohio) Daily News on December 26 of that year; either newspaper would’ve been close enough for A.D. to have copied the recipe from there.

Unfortunately, Kirkman offers no explanation of the cake’s origin. There’s a Warwickshire, England, and a Castle Warwick and some historical titles, but there’s no specific cake recipe associated with any of them as far as I can tell. Ditto for film star Robert Warwick (and given that movies with sound didn’t debut till 1923, I’m guessing most plot lines in his 1910s work didn’t explain his cakes).

Another possibility is a connection with the Warwick Club Ginger Ale Company from Rhode Island. There is ginger in the cake, after all. While the company didn’t take that name until 1932, it operated as the Warwick Bottling Works from at least 1913 in Arctic, Rhode Island.

The only other Warwick that stands out as a possibility is a long shot: Warwick, Virginia (now part of Newport News). On July 11, 1861, Confederate forces (assuming I’m understanding the shorthand of these news reports correctly) seized a steam ship carrying 5000 pounds of coffee to Fort Monroe. (But if I’m reading that incorrectly, history buffs, let me know…)

From the box of A.D. from Lutz, Florida, by way of Pennsylvania in the 1940s, and originating in Ohio in the 1920s.

Warwick Cake

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of molasses
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of coffee
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of nutmeg
1 tsp. of ginger
1 egg

mix and sift
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 pound of seeded raisins

Turn into a greased and floured pan and bake in a moderate oven 1 hour.

Turn out, dust with sugar and cool.

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