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Alice's Plain Cake

This is a cake I mentioned not too long after my mother passed away in January.  It was a cake my mother used to make for me when I was a wee, wee girl.  A lot of people expressed interest in it, so I thought I would bake it and share the recipe with you.

Its a very basic sponge cake with a lovely moist crumb. Not a large cake at all.  Mom used shortening when making it and I did today. I have never made it with butter, but I am sure it would work.  In any case there are only 2 TBS of fat in the cake.

My family always called me Alice, which is my second name.  Too many Mary's and Marie's in the house so I got called Alice and my sister Cindy although our first names were Marie and Mary respectively.  I confess a lot of tears were shed while I was baking this cake today  . . .  I thought of my mother and how very much she cared for each of us . . .

She was of the opinion that the digestion of a small child could not tolerate certain things in large quantities . . .  fats, pastries, etc.  That is why this is a very low fat sponge  . . . I can remember when my brother was small, and she would make us our favourite lemon pie, she would prepare a separate bowl of lemon pudding just for him . . .  so he could enjoy dessert without having to eat pastry. 

That is just one of the many examples I could share of how very important we, her family, her children were to her.  She went above and beyond for each of us . . .  and not just in feeding us.  We were well fed, kept clean and had decent clean clothing to wear.  

When I was really  young, before my sister and brother came along, she sewed all of my clothing, and often what I had matched her own clothes in fabric.  I can remember her making me doll furniture out of cardboard and toothpicks for me to play with.  She would always say she wasn't very creative, but I could share many examples of her being just that through the years. 

Clothing, mittens, embroidery, Halloween Costumes, decorating our bicycles for the annual Bicycle parade are just a few of the examples I could share.  She was always willing to help us with our homework, and to quiz us when we were having spelling tests, etc.   

In her later years whenever we would talk she would tell me about how when I was a baby, she was such a nervous mother that she took me to the Doctor one time because I kept lifting my legs up when I was in my cot. The Doctor had to tell her that babies do just that, and that nothing was wrong.  We would laugh about that.

I remember going to see her in the hospital after she had given birth to my sister, and waving to her through the hospital window.  Children were not allowed to visit in hospital back then.  We lived in Germany at the time.  When she brought my sister home, I wasn't too happy about it. (There is 3 years difference in our ages.)  I remember telling her that I wanted her to take the baby back.  I didn't want it to stay. 

She carefully explained that she could do that if I wanted her to, but she would have to go and stay with the baby because the baby could not take care of itself.  It was then I decided that the baby could stay after all . . .  and with that I gained a lifelong best friend in my dear sister.

And so this morning, as I was baking this cake I was crying big soppy tears as I remembered all these things and much, much more.  I miss my mom.  I think about her all the time, and sometimes I cry big soppy tears and my throat aches with the grief of it all.  Its Mothering Sunday next week (March 30) here in the UK. I think its going to be a hard, hard day, but I will get through it. 

Yield: one 8-inch square cake

Alice's Plain Cake

prep time: 10 minscook time: 25 minstotal time: 35 mins
This is the cake my mother used to make for me when I was a wee girl. Its a plain sponge you can dress up any way you like.


  • 2 TBS white vegetable fat (Trex , Crisco or white flora)
  • 95g granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 140g plain flour (1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 120ml milk (1/2 cup)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Line an 8 inch square baking dish with wax or grease proof paper.  Set aside.
  2. Cream together the shortening and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the  vanilla and the egg.  Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder.  Add alternately to the creamed mixture with the milk, making 3 dry and two wet additions. You should have a nice smooth batter when done.  Pour into the prepared baking tin.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes until well risen and the top springs back when lightly touched.  A toothpick should also come out clean. 
  4. Tip onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  5. I cut mine in half through the middle and put the two layers together with lemon curd, sifting some icing sugar over top.  Mom often split it and filled with jam.  You can ice this or not as you wish.  Its lovely and moist, and very simple.
Created using The Recipes Generator

So there you have it.  Alice's Plain Cake.  Created for her daughter from a mother's heart.  I hope you will try it.  Its a smallish cake, just enough for an enjoyable taste. I split the cake and filled it with lemon curd, but  mom often filled it with jam.  Its delicious no matter what you do to it, even just eaten plain. 

Marie Rayner
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  1. this isn't mom's hotmilk cake where she would scald the milk first is it? xo

    1. No Sis, you can find that recipe here: https://theenglishkitchen.blogspot.com/2009/06/first-berries-of-season.html xoxo

  2. Awww... it's still all so recent.Love this tribute to her and her recipe:)

    1. Thanks Monique. Its a pretty simple cake. Nothing fancy about it! xoxo

  3. Hugs to you. I had a sad day yesterday too, remembering my husband and my mom. My memories of her were of times spent in her red-checked curtained kitchen. So, your post today resonates strongly with me. The cake looks so good! Do you wait until the cake completely cools before splitting in for the lemon curd?

    1. Yes, I waited until it was completely cooled Mary. ((((hugs)))) xoxo

  4. I enjoyed your stories about your mum so much. I can imagine her just a wee bit. She sounds like such a lovely lady.

    1. She was pretty special to us! She was aa lovely woman. xoxo

  5. It is 53 years since my Mother died and I still miss her. It does get somewhat easier as the years go by but the fact remains that she is no longer there. Wishing you Peace, Marie. xx

    1. Thanks so much. I can't imagine not missing her. You must have been quite young when you lost your mom. Must have been so hard. ((((hugs)))) xoxo

  6. Thank you for the hugs, they do help. Yes, I was just 19 when she went, five years after Dad.

    1. Oh my, how very sad that must have been for you, and even more difficult to lose them both at such a young age! Sending you even more hugs now. ((((hugs)))) I am so grateful for having had my mom for so long. I feel rather cheeky for missing her as much as I do. xo

  7. I shed a tear reading this today. Your Mum sounds like a lovely kind hearted soul. Thanks for the reminder that Mother's day is this weekend in the U.K. I'm off to order some flowers for my Mum. Hugs, Jo in Wisconsin.

    1. I think we all think our mom's are the best Jo! I was very blessed to have a wonderful mom, and I suspect you are too! xoxo

  8. I love the story of your mom -- you almost had me crying buckets too. She sounds like a good and very wise woman. The recipe looks delicious. Maybe I'll make this soon -- it looks like a good spring cake and I like that it isn't so big. And I will think of you. Sending big hugs, j

    1. Its a very simple small cake Jeanie. I miss my mom terribly. I still can't believe I cannot pick up the telephone and just call her. :-( xoxo

  9. Marie,
    The day after I saw this recipe, I made it for dessert. Timing was perfect, as I was craving a simple cake and had some lemon curd that needed using! Your mum's cake was absolutely delicious - even on the second and third days! Frankly, I'm surprised it lasted that long!
    Thank you for sharing such lovely memories of your mother. She must have been a very special lady. Next time I make the cake I'll be thinking of her as well as my own mother...and you, too, of course!
    Thank you again,
    Deb Adams

    1. So pleased it was enjoyed Deb! It is the right size for us and is a really great cake. I know my mum would have been pleased also! xoxo


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