Brown Stone Front Cake

One of the most used, spotted, and worn recipe cards in my collection is in my Mom’s handwriting and it is for “”Brown Stone Front Cake”. I lost track of how many times she made this cake; it was my Dad’s absolute favorite.

Holding that recipe card, I can close my eyes and see her in my mind, plumping the raisins, gathering the ingredients, and pouring the batter into a well-used, very old 13 x 9 pan. As it baked, chances were my Dad was on his way home from a trip hauling coal to Philadelphia or New York in his tractor-trailer.

As the cake cooled, Mom put the coffee on in anticipation of Dad’s arrival. As he came through the kitchen door, he greeted us as if he hadn’t seen us in days. After the hugs and kisses were through, his eyes would light up again when he spotted his favorite cake on the counter. Simple pleasures made my Dad happy and I surely wish he was still with us.

In doing some research on this cake, I came across several Coal Region cookbooks that include this recipe and call it “Brown Stone Front Cake” but on the internet, a “brown stone front cake” recipe often includes cocoa or chocolate and a suggested frosting. Mom’s version needs no frostingbut is just as tasty simply dusted with powdered sugar.

Brown Stone Front Cake

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: DessertsCuisine: Coal Region, Pa. DutchDifficulty: Easy

A lightly spiced cake studded with raisins.


  • 2 cups brown sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup sour milk (1 cup whole milk plus 1 Tablespoon white vinegar, stir and let sit 10 minutes)

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 cup shortening

  • 1 pound raisins (plump by simmering raisins in just enough water to cover until they plump, about 15 minutes, remove from heat, cool completely and drain well)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 3 cups all purpose flour


  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Cook the raisins, drain very well, and cool completely.
  • Cream sugar with shortening until fluffy, then beat in eggs.
  • Add flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, milk; beat thoroughly.
  • Gently fold in cooled, drained raisins.
  • Pour into greased and floured 13 x 9 inch pan or 2 prepared 9 inch round pans.
  • Bake until cake tests done using a cake tester or toothpick and the pick comes out clean and cake bounces back lightly when pressed. (Recipe does not give exact time. Start visually checking at 35 – 40 minutes for a 13 x 9 pan.)


  • Make sure the raisins as completely cool and very well drained before adding to the batter.


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