Spanish Bar Cake

| November 10, 2014 | 53 Comments

Spanish Bar Cake recipe, from Taste of Southern.
Follow our step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to make our version of the old fashioned, A&P Spanish Bar Cake. We’ve stepped back in time to recreate one of your favorite tastes from the past with this very special spice cake recipe. We’ll share the cake recipe, and the frosting recipe, so you can make this wonderful dessert right in your own kitchen. Printable recipe included.



Spanish Bar Cake, slider.
Spanish Bar Cake: The old fashioned A&P Spanish Bar Cake type recipe.


Welcome to my Spanish Bar Cake journey.

I hope you’ll join me on this adventure as we set out to recreate a beloved recipe from the past. I’ve given it my best shot, and look forward to you joining in and sharing your memories, comments, and suggestions.

I developed this recipe for the Our State Magazine website a few weeks back. I’ve been contributing recipes to them for several years as you may already know.

Many of their readers had made comments about a Spanish Bar Cake that use to be sold at A&P Grocery stores throughout North Carolina years ago. Their comments sparked my interest in finding the recipe, and thus the journey began.

There were several recipes on the internet that claimed to be the original, but how can several “different” versions, all be the ONE recipe that made this unique cake? Obviously none of them were, so I took it upon myself to come up with one that might be close to what the cake originally tasted like. Problem was, I had no idea what that taste might be. However, I did have a pretty good source that might could help out. More on that in a moment, let me give you a little background information first.

The Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P) began back in 1859 in New York City, and quickly made a name for itself as an innovator and leader in the grocery industry. Before long, the company even began making its own brand of products, including the beloved Spanish Bar Cake. By the 1930s, there were over 16,000 A&P stores across the country. Sadly, in the 1950’s, A&P lost ground to newer, more modern stores, and eventually closed all its North Carolina locations.

Mama shopped the A&P store in our hometown every chance she had back then. She had no choice. Her oldest son, my older brother, worked there and eventually became store manager. He worked with A&P for many years.

When I first asked my older brother about the Spanish Bar Cake, he lit up and started telling me all about it. He described it vividly, so I knew I’d have to make a recipe that would meet his expert approval. The pressure was on, but at least I knew I had a trusted source.

Older brother said this was one of his favorite desserts when he worked for A&P. He spoke fondly of how he’d grab a soft drink and one of these cakes at break time, and practically eat the whole cake in one sitting. He was quick to recall the look and the taste of the cake, and told me numerous stories about selling the cake over the years he worked with A&P.

I contacted the A&P Company, still in existence with about 300 stores in the Northeast, but they never responded. Instead, I did my best to collect copycat recipes from the Internet and gain information from old A&P ads before setting out to recreate the cake.

My first attempt garnered a “6 out of 10” on my older brother’s memory scale. Not bad, but not good enough. He said it should be darker and a little spicier. My second attempt, rated a 7 from older brother. Either he was just being nice, or I was getting a bit closer.

I made a few changes, then baked the cake yet again. This time, I entered it into the 2014 North Carolina State Fair. I’d never entered a cake into the fair before, but I just wanted to get an independent, blind taste test, of the recipe itself to see what someone else might think about it. The judges at the fair didn’t know it was an attempt to recreate the A&P cake, to them, it was just a spice cake. At least I might find out if the cake itself had any merit.

The recipe below managed to get an “Honorable Mention,” from the State Fair judges. I think that meant that it tied for third place, then after another round of judging someone else took third place, and mine got the Honorable Mention. I would later find out there were 15 entries in the Spice Cake division this year, so being 4th out of 15 isn’t so terribly bad just on the merits of being a spice cake alone.

The printable recipe at the bottom will turn out a much darker cake than the one pictured here. I switched the regular cocoa powder I first used, to a Dark Chocolate cocoa powder for the cake I made for the State Fair entry. Of the things my older brother kept mentioning in my first attempts was. the cake needed to be darker, moist, and a bit more spicy.

The printable recipe is the recipe that I used to bake the actual cake that was entered into the State Fair competition. Making the cake by the step-by-step photos is pretty much the same, but follow the printable recipe if you decide to join in on this little journey of ours.

How you can help.

If you remember the A&P Spanish Bar Cake, I’m open to your suggestions, and your own memories of it. I know it will be an older generation that will have those memories, so maybe you could ask a parent or older neighbor if they know about and recall the cake. Any information will be helpful.

I have found that A&P still makes a fruitcake that was made years ago, but I haven’t found where they still make the Spanish Bar Cake. I could pick up the phone and call and ask I guess, but I haven’t done that as of yet. Maybe I need to do so.

So, if you’re ready to step back in time a bit, let’s get in the kitchen and sling some flour. Ready to give it a try? Alright then… Let’s Get Cooking!!!


Spanish Bar Cake, ingredients.
A&P Spanish Bar Cake recipe: You’ll need these ingredients.

We’ve also got the ingredients for making the frosting for this cake, further down in this post.


Spanish-Bar-Cake, plump up the raisins.
Plump up those Raisins: Before we start making the batter, let’s plump up those raisins.

Bring about 2 cups of water to a slight boil, then REMOVE from heat. Drop in the raisins, and just let them sit while you make the batter. This will plump them up, and make for a better cake.


Spanish Bar Cake, measure the flour..
You’ll need two level cups of All-Purpose Flour to begin the batter.

Measure the flour out into a large mixing bowl.


Spanish Bar Cake, add baking powder.
Add the Baking Powder.


Spanish Bar Cake, add the salt.
Add the Salt.


Spanish Bar Cake, add the cocoa.
Add the Cocoa.

I used Hershey’s regular cocoa for the first recipe, which I took these pictures of. After making the cake, older brother told me that he remembered it being much darker in color, almost black. I switched to the Dark Chocolate cocoa for the printable recipe, and for the cake that I entered into the 2014 North Carolina State Fair.


Spanish Bar Cake, add cinnamon.
Add the Cinnamon.


Spanish Bar Cake, add ginger.
Add the Ground Ginger.


Spanish Bar Cake, add cloves.
Add the Ground Cloves.


Spanish Bar Cake, add nutmeg.
Add the Nutmeg.


Spanish Bar Cake, whisk together.
Use a whisk to mix all of the spices and flour together.


Spanish Bar Cake, sift three times.
Now, you’ll need to sift this spice and flour mixture three times. I used a sheet of parchment paper in this step. After sifting the flour into my bowl, I’d dump it out on the sheet of parchment, then place it back into the sifter. The parchment let me grab up the sides so I could easily pour the flour back into the sifter. Of course, two bowls will work, so use what you have. Once you’ve sifted it three times, set it aside until later.


Spanish Bar Cake, add brown sugar.
Using another large mixing bowl, add the Brown Sugar.


Spanish Bar Cake, add the shortening.
Add the Shortening.


Spanish Bar Cake, mix together.
Using a hand mixer on Low speed, combine the shortening and sugar together.


Spanish Bar Cake, add the molasses.
Add the Molasses.


Spanish Bar Cake, combine together.
Mix the molasses into the sugar mixture.


Spanish Bar Cake, add the eggs.
Add the two whole Eggs.


Spanish Bar Cake, combine together.
Mix the eggs into the mixture, just until they are combined in good.


Spanish Bar Cake, add milk.
Add the Evaporated Milk.


Spanish Bar Cake, combine together.
Still using the hand mixer, mix the milk just until it’s combined with the rest of the wet ingredients.


Spanish Bar Cake, add the applesauce.
Add the Applesauce.


Spanish Bar Cake, combine together.
Mix the applesauce in, just until combined.


Spanish Bar Cake, add dry ingredients.
Now we’re going to mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. This is done in three increments.

Add one third of the flour mixture into the bowl. Using the hand mixer, mix this together just until it’s all combined. Add another third of the flour into the bowl and mix again. Finally, add the remaining flour into the batter, mix it just until combined, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Do not over beat the batter.


Spanish Bar Cake, mix just to combine.
The batter should be fairly thick at this point.


Spanish Bar Cake, drain the raisins.
Drain the raisins in a colander.


Spanish Bar Cake, sprinkle with flour.
Sprinkle about a Tablespoon of All-Purpose Flour over the drained raisins.


Spanish Bar Cake, stir to coat.
Stir the raisins around with a spoon, until they are all coated with flour. This is suppose to keep all the raisins from just sinking to the bottom once you place the batter into the baking pan.


Spanish Bar Cake, fold raisins into the batter.
Add the Raisins to the batter. Using a large spoon or spatula, gently fold the raisins into the batter mixture. Just a quick swirl or two is about all you’ll need.


Spanish Bar Cake, prepare the baking pan.
Prepare your baking pan: I used one of the canned sprays that contains flour to coat the inside of this 9×13 sheet cake pan. If you don’t have a spray with flour, coat the inside of the pan with shortening, then sprinkle in some flour. Roll the flour around inside the pan until you’ve got the bottom, corners, and edges fully coated. Spoon the batter into the coated pan.


Spanish Bar Cake, spread batter in pan.
As mentioned, the batter is a bit on the thick side. I used a spatula to spread the batter out into the corners of the pan so it would be evenly distributed inside the pan. Work from the center, and spread the batter out into all corners. I also lifted the pan about 2 inches off the counter, then dropped it, to force any air bubbles up to the top.


Spanish Bar Cake, baking time and temp.
Place the pan in your preheated oven.

Bake it on 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, or until done. Oven’s will vary, so keep a close check on it.

The cake is done once it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, and when a wooden toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake, pulls out clean.


Spanish Bar Cake, place on wire rack to cool.
When the cake is done, remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely before you try to remove it. You could also just add the icing to the top of the cooled cake and serve it directly from the pan.

I wanted to make my cake look more like the original, so I planned to remove it from the pan. To do this, I cut a piece of cardboard just smaller than the inside dimensions of the pan and placed this on top of the cake once it had cooled. Placing one hand on the cardboard, I flipped it all over and removed the layer intact.

Next, I split the cake in half and started building up the layer cake, frosting the middle, then the top.

While the cake is cooling, lets go ahead and make the icing for it.


Spanish Bar Cake, frosting ingredients.
Spanish Bar Cake Frosting: You’ll need these ingredients.

I’m using some left over Evaporated Milk that I had. Regular milk will work just as well for this part. It’s pretty much a basic Buttercream frosting. The butter needs to be softened to room temperature for best results.


Spanish Bar Cake, add sugar.
Place the Confectioners Sugar in a large bowl… with high sides. Don’t ask why they need to be high. (Smile)


Spanish Bar Cake, add the butter.
Add the softened Butter.


Spanish Bar Cake, add the vanilla extract.
Add the Vanilla Extract.


Spanish Bar Cake, add the milk.
Start out by adding three Tablespoons of Milk. You’ll probably need to add a bit more, but do this gradually to work the frosting up to your desired consistency. I ended up using 5 Tablespoons both times I’ve made this frosting. You might need more, or even less.


Spanish Bar Cake, mix together.
You’ll want the frosting to be a bit on the thick side, so be careful adding more of the milk as you go.

With all of the ingredients in the bowl, use a hand mixer, on low speed, and lower it right down into the middle of the softened butter. Start working with the butter, gradually working in the confectioners sugar, so you don’t send sugar flying all over your kitchen. You can thank me later for that little house keeping tip. Again, don’t ask why I know this. Just saying. (Smile)

If you’re making two layers from the one sheet cake layer, spread a good amount of frosting in between the layers, then frost the top. You’ll probably still have more frosting than you really need this way. I ended up with about half a cup leftover, and I thought I was spreading it pretty thick.


Spanish Bar Cake, enjoy.


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Spanish Bar Cake recipe, as close to the A&P cake as we can get. As seen on Taste of Southern.

Spanish Bar Cake

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 - 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


Follow our step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to make our version of the old fashioned, A&P Spanish Bar Cake. We’ve stepped back in time to recreate one of your favorite tastes from the past with this very special spice cake recipe. We’ll share the cake recipe, and the frosting recipe, so you can make this wonderful dessert right in your own kitchen.



  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoon Dark Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Allspice
  • ½ teaspoon Nutmeg
  • ½ cup Crisco Shortening
  • 1 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Molasses
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¼ cup Evaporated Milk
  • ½ cup Applesauce
  • 1 cup Raisins, soaked in warm water until plumped, then drained.

Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons Evaporated milk, more if needed


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.

  1. Soak raisins in hot water until plump, drain.
  2. Place flour in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add baking powder.
  4. Add salt.
  5. Add cocoa.
  6. Add cinnamon.
  7. Add ground ginger.
  8. Add cloves.
  9. Add nutmeg.
  10. Add allspice
  11. Whisk dry ingredients well to combine.
  12. SIFT the dry ingredients mixture three times, set aside.
  13. Place shortening and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  14. Using a hand mixer, on low speed, cream the shortening and sugar together.
  15. Add Molasses, mix until combined.
  16. Add eggs. Mix just enough to incorporate into mixture.
  17. Add milk, mix briefly.
  18. Add Applesauce, mix again, just until combined.
  19. Add flour mixture, to wet mixture, in three additions, stirring after each to combine.
  20. Fold in plumped raisins.
  21. Prepare your baking pan by coating with shortening and flour, or use a baking spray with flour.
  22. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  23. Batter will be thick, so use a spoon to spread it out evenly in the baking pan.
  24. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until done.
  25. Remove cake from oven, and place on a wire rack to cool.
  26. Frost as desired with frosting recipe included here.
  27. Enjoy!


Slice the sheet cake in half, and stack into layers, placing frosting in middle and on top. Use the tines of a fork to place a design on the top layer like the original A&P Spanish Bar Cake had.

Keywords: Spanish Bar Cake, A&P, Jane Parker, Our State, Taste of Southern


Your Comments: Do you remember the original A&P Spanish Bar Cake? Do you think our recipe comes even close to it?  I’d love to hear your comments about it. It will only take a minute or two for you to share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below. Please note that all of our Comments are moderated. That just means that I personally read each and every one of them before they are approved for our family friendly site here on the Internet. Your comment will not appear immediately, but I’ll do my best to get it posted online as soon as possible. Thank you in advance.

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Be Blessed!!!


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Category: Desserts

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (53)

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  1. Henriette Hall says:

    Hi Steve
    Back in the 60’s I can remember each time we went to our Lakehouse for the weekend–My Mama always took 2 or 3 Spanish Bar cakes. I do remember it being very dark. I do not remember evaporated milk, I remember the icing being very WHITE–seems that evaporated milk would show a beige tint ?
    I stumbled on a website I hope you will check…
    They offer the “original” Spanigh Bar at $34.97 and as of this writing, they are back-ordered. It also offers the Jane Parker Fruit Cakes–more than 1 type. Please let us know……..
    Of all the stumbles, I am SO delighted to stumble on to your site.


    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Henny, You have to keep in mind that this was my feeble attempt to make a Spanish Bar Cake for my brother. He had talked about them so much, I decided to try to make one for him. He said it was good, but it wasn’t the Jane Parker Spanish Bar Cake he remembered. Alas, I tried. Smile. As for,, we’ve been working with them for several years now. I’ve posted reviews of their Classic and Dark Fruitcakes, their new Chocolate Fruitcakes, and we had the pleasure to sample and review their Original Recipe Spanish Bar Cake just a couple of weeks ago. Just do a search for Jane Parker on our website and you’ll find them all. They’re all good by the way. Thank you for sharing your memories with us today. I’m also glad that you stumbled upon our site and I do hope you’ll visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  2. Melinda says:

    Water, icing sugar, enriched wheat flour, sugar, raisins, glucose-fructose, vegetable oil (soybean, palm, cottonseed), raisin paste, palm and canola and modified palm oil margarine (contains soy lecithin and modified milk ingredients), palm and canola and modified palm oil shortening, modified cornstarch, fancy molasses, baking powder, cellulose gum, mono- and diglycerides, caramel colour, glucose, sodium bicarbonate, salt, spices, artificial flavour, citric acid, sodium propionate, cream of tartar.

  3. Melinda says:

    Here is how they make spanish bar. Well the ingriedients.

  4. Mary-Ellen Split says:

    I remember how elated I felt as a child when the Spanish bar cake came into the house! My Mom was an excellent baker but this was a treat as well!
    My friend and I were reminiscing and so we both made the cake! I was disappointed in the dryness. I wanted it more moist and dense. I don’t know what I did wrong. The flavor is sensational and my husband gave it a thumbs up! I think my applesauce measurement was just a little off. I’ll keep trying!

  5. M tumas says:

    This is not the same spanish bar cake I had from the A&P Market. The molasses is overpowering
    I had a recipe that was exactly as I remembered but missplaced it. This recipe still makes a nice cake.

  6. C. Murphy says:

    Hi. The Spanish Bar Cake I LOVED was sold in supermarkets and made by Freihoffer’s Bakery — a subsidiary of Entenmann’s. Sadly, it was discontinued back in the early 1990s (I think). It was baked in a loaf pan, and had a delicious cream cheese icing just on the top. The cake itself was dark (like a fruitcake), spicy and had raisins.

    Your recipe seems like a good place to start to recreate this old gem of a cake. Although I will swap the Crisco for butter and will use whole milk instead of evaporated.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi C. Murphy, I find a type of Spanish Bar Cake in a store every now and then. They’re all pretty much the same and I’ve enjoyed them. It’s sad that so many of the good items seem to get discontinued, but I guess that’s just business. Please let me know how the cake turns out for you if you decide to bake one. I hope you’ll like it. I appreciate your visit and hope you’ll visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

    • Cat says:

      If you figure out the recipe for the Entemanns spice bar please share it. I loved it.

  7. I am super excited to try this recipe!! I haven’t had Spanish Bar Cake in years and have always wanted to recreate it. I wish that I could share it on Facebook!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Jennifer, I hope you like the cake, but keep in mind this was just my personal attempt to recreate the cake. I don’t claim to have the real recipe. However, I do know that plans are in the works to bring the real cake back. A couple of brothers up in New York bought the recipes, rights, and trademarks to make them again. They have already made the Classic and Dark versions of the Jane Parker Fruitcake. I did a test and review of those last year. I actually spoke with them earlier today and they told me they were still working on the Spanish Bar Cake and want to be sure it’s right before they start mass producing it. So, keep your fingers crossed, it may be available sometime in 2019. Please let me know what you think of this cake if you make it. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on it. Thank you for your visit today, and do stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Stever

      • Tammi Dean says:

        Hi Steve
        My grandmother always served this cake at Christmas time and I can’t wait to try it. From what I have read of your ingredients verses the other that sounded like it had some of the right ingredients. You are right about the molasses and the shortening and all of your other ingredients but maybe add more applesauce to the cake and put cream cheese in your icing. Cream cheese is what gave firmness to the icing. I am going to try it that way to see.

        • Steve Gordon says:

          Hi Tammi, Thank you for sharing your memories of this cake and your Grandmother. I’d love to know what you think of it should you try it. And, thank you for the suggestion of the cream cheese. Just to let you know, Jane will soon be bringing the original recipe A&P Spanish Bar Cake back to the market. They’ve been making the Jane Parker Fruitcakes for a couple of years now, and have told me the Spanish Bar Cake is already in the works. I hope to have more info on that very soon. You might want to check out their website. Smile. Thank you for your comments and for your visit today. I do hope you’ll visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      • Sue Clayton says:

        You stated the original should be on the market in late 2019. Did it make it?

    • James Guthrie says:

      Reading all these comments, I began trying to remember who else made the Spanish Bar Cake for commercial sales? I grew up in a small eastern North Carolina town and we did not have an A&P, only small mom and pop owned grocery stores. I worked in one of them while in high school and we sold somebody’s Spanish Bar cake which we “bag boys” ate on a regular basis. That was early to mid 1960s. The cakes were 4-5 inches wide and, maybe, 10 inches long. They were dark, had white icing, sat on a red corrugated looking paper and wrapped in cellophane. The store was a big seller of those to-die-for Duchess pies out of Charlotte so I’m wondering if they might have produced the Spanish Bar Cake…….or perhaps Merita?

  8. Steven M. says:

    This is the Third Recipe I’ve tried for Spanish Bar Cake, and we all agreed, it is the closest to the original. I did not “Plump” the Raisin, just wet them, as they would’ve been more like grapes than Raisins in the finished product. This is a “Heavy” cake, with the texture of pound cake which seems to follow the original.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Steven, Did you see my review last year about the return of the Jane Parker Fruitcake? A couple of brothers in New York bought the original recipe and trademarks during an auction of A&P store items. They started selling the fruitcakes again just before Christmas in 2017 and told me they hope to bring back the Spanish Bar Cake sometime during 2018. I’ve reached out to them to see if they are still thinking about it, but haven’t heard back. I know a lot of folks would love to see that cake again. I’m glad you enjoyed our attempt at making it and happy that you tried the recipe. I appreciate your visit and hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

    • Priscilla C. says:

      A&P Spanish Bar was my favorite! I wrote to A&P a few years ago and they gave me the recipe pared down from their oversized one. I added 1/2 ingredients in parenthesis for just one loaf cake:
      4 cups water (2)
      2 cups raisins (1)
      1 cup shortening (1/2)
      4 cups all purpose flour (2)
      2 cups white sugar (1)
      2 teaspoons baking soda (1)
      1 teaspoon ground cloves (1/2)
      1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (1/2)
      1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (1/2)
      1 teaspoon ground allspice (1/2)
      ½ teaspoon salt (1/4)
      2 eggs (1)
      1 cup chopped walnuts
      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
      Lightly grease one 13” X 9” cake pan or 2 loaf pans.

      Cook raisins and water for 10 minutes over medium heat.
      Stir in the shortening. Remove from heat and let mixture cool.

      Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, ground cloves, ground nutmeg,
      ground cinnamon, ground allspice and salt. Add flour mixture to
      the cooled raisin mixture and blend well. Stir in the beaten eggs.
      Add the chopped nuts (if desired). Pour batter into prepared pan.

      Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes, OR, until center springs back when lightly touched.
      When cake is cool, spread your favorite vanilla frosting on top.

      • Steve Gordon says:

        Hi Priscilla, Thank you for sharing this recipe. I hope to get to try it sometime myself even though it is pretty similar to what I did. I added a few things that aren’t in what you have and I didn’t have any Walnuts in my version. I’ve mentioned this before, but a couple of brothers up in New York bought the recipes and rights to the Jane Parker Fruitcakes and the Spanish Bar Cake at an auction from A&P as they were closing. The brothers have already started making the fruitcakes and tell me they are working on the Spanish Bar Cake and hope to have that available again sometime in 2019. We’ll have to wait and see. I do appreciate you taking the time to share this recipe and hopefully some of our readers will try it and let us know what they think. I do appreciate your visit today and I hope you’ll visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      • Jane says:

        i’m wanting to recreate the A&P Spanish Bar Cake for my father’s 93rd birthday which is tomorrow. I know this is short notice and i’m hoping it will taste like the original. I remember myself eating the bar cake from A&P and it was one of my favorites also. We had very few store bought sweets in our house growing up. Could you possibly let me know if you have actually tried this recipe and confirmed that it is the closest to the store bought version? I’m wondering about the molasses that several people refer to in other recipes. I was too young to worry about ingredients at that time. I hope to hear from you very soon. Thank you in advance, I’m just unsure of which recipe to use as there are so many online…

  9. Sharon says:

    Steve,I grew up in Chicago and my mom would buy a Spanish bar cake each week we went shopping. She should have bought 2 each time. There were 10 of us kids and 2 parents. Glad some of them didn’t care for it, otherwise the slices would have been paper thin. I wish I could find it in a store now. It was my favorite cake. I always requested it for my birthday cake. So my mom would spread the frosting all together on 3 of the cakes, it looked like a big square cake. Then she would write happy birthday on it. Those were good times.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Sharon, Did you see my review for the Jane Parker Fruitcakes? Search for it here on Taste of Southern. Two brothers up in New York bought the original rights and recipes from the A&P stores and have just started making the fruitcakes again. I’ve been told they plan to bring back the Spanish Bar Cake this year. Let’s hope so. Sounds like you had some great birthdays with that cake. Indeed, they were good times. Thank you for your visits and I hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  10. Dolores Fowler says:

    Dear Steve; If a person follows your delicious recipe without reading the story, he/she will grease and flour a loaf pan instead of a 9 x 13 sheet pan per your instructions. Maybe it would help if the recipe instructions could be corrected.
    As for me, I always read your stories. I enjoy them so much.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Dolores, I greatly appreciate you pointing that out. I have made the change, so hopefully no one will be confused about the pan size should they try to make the cake. I thank you for taking the time to write me about it, and for your visits. I hope you’ll visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  11. Fanica says:

    As a special holiday request could you locate the recipe for a real Devil’s Food Cake? It is my cousin’s favorite. All we can remember is that it had a reddish hue and white frosting; it is not a red velvet cake. Thank you!!!

  12. Heather Nash says:

    Ok, I have been craving this cake for the last year or more and took to the Internet to see where it might lead. Thus here I am! I grew up in Ontario and my Mom also used to buy this cake at Doninion which was under the A&P banner. We loved it! Can’t wait to try your recipe.

  13. Dana Leigh says:

    Another website printed a similar recipe and a gentleman came on very firmly stating that recipe would not tastes like the bar cake because it was the wrong recipe. He posted a solid recipe and an older gentleman backed up his statement…saying he had baked the cake for A&P and they were correct. Here is his recipe. I would love to see if someone can try it and compare.
    A&P Spanish Bar
    • ½ cup shortening
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • ¾ cup molasses
    • 1 cup boiling water
    • 2¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour
    • 1 Tbs cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 tsp ginger
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ¼ tsp ground cloves, optional
    • ½ cup cut-up raisins
    Preheat the oven to 325F.
    Cream the shortening, sugar and egg, blend in molasses and add the boiling water. Sift together the remaining ingredients except the raisins and stir it into the egg mixture. Fold in the raisins.
    Divide the batter equally between two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake in a 325oF oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.
    Cool the cakes in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove them from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack. Cut each cake in half horizontally and frost the top and center ONLY with a frosting made with 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup of shortening, 1 Tbs water and 1 tsp clear vanilla extract.

    • Maria W says:

      Hello Steve and Dana…OK I am looking for a clone A&P Jane Parker Pound cake recipe…do you remember that one? Does anyone have a recipe for that, would love to have it…

    • taylor says:

      I made this one and it is spot on. The recipe given by Steve is not a BAR cake as we knew them and A&P did not use buttercream icing. Shortening was used to stabilse the icing. My Mum bought one each Friday and IF it lasted until Sunday, we did not refrigerate. Buttercream frosting would wilt.

    • Gwen says:

      I just made another version of this recipe and concluded A) it should have molasses and shortening (even though I’d have to buy it specially for this) and
      B) the icing does not have cream cheese or butter, it also should be made with shortening.
      Thanks for posting, I’ll try this one next.

  14. Dawne says:

    I remember this cake very well. It had raisins and walnuts. And it had shredded carrots. I remember the tiny lighter colored strips in the cake. Yeah, I always studied my food before I ate it, lol

  15. Sandra says:

    My husband remembered this cake fondly from his youth and printed the directions for me. It was not part of my youth as there was no A&P in my home town. I finally made it tonight and followed the directions to the letter, including “grease and flour a loaf pan”. I took that to be a bread loaf pan and when the cake was still not baked after 45 minutes, looked it up on the internet to see the pictures. Turns out you meant a sheet cake pan, as shown in the picture and mentioned in the bottom notes. Sorry I missed that but I followed the previous direction. I’m not sure this recipe will turn out too well in a loaf pan (it’s still cooling) but it does smell wonderful! You may want to change “loaf pan” to sheet pan in your directions. I’ll try it again with the proper cake pan as it seems to be a wonderful spice cake recipe!

  16. Dawn says:

    Hey, Steve! I’m not from NC but we had A&P in Ohio in Ohio also. This may be a long shot, but every now and again our Nickles Bakery Outlet in Ohio sells a spanish spice bar cake that comes darn close to A&P’s. Perhaps if you contacted Nickles Bakery they could help you out? I’m trying to recreate with a good spice cake mix, but I know it won’t come close. Keep up the good work!!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Dawn, Thank you for the info. I looked them up online but don’t see where they list this cake as one of their products. It may just be something they do ever so often. Found one listing saying it was sold at Walmart, but when I clicked the link, it said the cake was no longer available. I do hope your mix turns out good though. I appreciate you taking the time to write, and hope you’ll visit again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  17. paul says:

    the AP were all over especially in the north and into eastern Canada. running across the main road to get bread and milk was my chore and picking up a pie or cake, especially when they were marked down was my job as a kid, and my favorite was the spanish bar cake.

  18. Crystal says:

    Steve, I feel like we grow up in the same family and I love, love, love your site, stories and recipes. So many memories. I can’t wait to try some of your recipes, especially this one! Thanks so much!

  19. Gene Moore says:

    Hello Steve,
    A few months ago I saw your comments in the Our State magazine about the A&Ps Spanish Bar Cake. I remember that cake fondly because my mother bought it frequently.
    Today I made your clone of the cake and found it to be good, but not totally accurate. There seemed to be an off-taste I could not identify which did not appear in the original. Also, some of your commenters had mentioned that a cream cheese frosting might be appropriate, and they may be correct. Nevertheless, you deserve a gold star for your efforts–you said it was a work-in-progress and I look forward to trying your next version.
    Although I have lived in Florida for many years, I grew up in a small town near Charlotte and return to N. C. frequently. Some of the ladies of the town made what they called a Canadian War Cake (WW I or WW II ??) which had no eggs, presumably because they were scarce during the war. That cake had some similarities to the A&P cake, although it had a chocolate icing rather than a white one. Some similarities: ginger, cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins, and nutmeg, although not all quantities are the same. Some differences: The Canadian War cake had no cocoa, cloves, molasses, applesauce, eggs, however it did have walnuts or pecans which were not present in the A&P cake. I am beginning to wonder if the off-taste I mentioned is the molasses. Anyway, I believe the taste of the Canadian War cake was fairly close to the taste of the Spanish Bar cake.
    If you would like to review the Canadian War cake recipe for comparisons which may assist you in your next version of the Spanish Bar Cake, just let me know how I might properly send it to you.
    Keep up the good work.

    Gene Moore

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Gene, Thank you for taking the time to share your memories and comments about the Spanish Bar Cake recipe. As I mentioned, it was, and still is a work in progress. I had hoped some of the folks that remembered it would share more insight, and I’ve picked up a few pointers. I made several of the cakes back when I was attempting the recipe, but haven’t made one recently.

      Your comments about the Canadian War Cake sound of interest. I’ve heard of a crazy cake recipe without eggs as well, but haven’t tried it. I’d love to get a recipe if you have one you’re willing to share. Send me an email via the CONTACT form, and I’ll reply with an email address for you to use. Thank you in advance.

      I don’t remember the cake well enough to remember what it tastes like, so I’m counting on readers for help. Thank you again.

      I do appreciate your visits, and happy to see you’re a reader of Our State as well. I do hope you’ll drop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  20. Deb says:

    Hi Steve! I must be as slow as the molasses in your recipe! I’m cleaning up some old emails and found your newsletter from back in November hiding amongst some unread ones. So I’m just reading this about the A&P Spice cake. I remember eating this!! My mom must have gotten it when she shopped at our local A&P which I remember being in many times. And if I tasted your recipe I’m sure it would all come back.

    I’m forwarding this post to my mom who’s living at my sister’s house in SC for the next 3 months. I’m sure she will remember the Spice Cake well. Thanks for the memories!

    And, as usual, I always enjoy your posts, recipes, and especially the newsletters. I just don’t always take time to comment. Thanks for all you do!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Deb, It’s great to hear from you again. I’m happy to hear that you remember the Spanish Bar Cake, and hopefully “Granny” will as well. Thank you for your kind comments on our Newsletter and Taste of Southern. I don’t comment on your site often, but I do visit it at least once a week to see what you and your family are up to. I always enjoy reading your blog. I appreciate your visits, and appreciate the values you and your family live and represent. God is good. Thank you always for your visits, and do visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  21. Kathleen Mc says:

    Thank you so much for these great recipes and stories. I just stumbled on your blog today and am really enjoying it.
    So many food blogs seem to be trying to impress and don’t connect to family or tradition. Yours is authentic and from the heart.
    God bless!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Kathleen, Thank You for making my day. I’m thankful you’ve found Taste of Southern and hope you’ll try some of our recipes. I appreciate your kind words and your compliments about our little home here on the Internet. I appreciate your visit and trust you’ll continue to visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  22. Marsha Barnett says:

    OMG Steve! I am typing this through my tears!! This was my favorite of all cakes. My Mom shopped at A & P and brought this home every time she shopped there. It was our family’s favorite. I have been searching for this cake and/or a recipe for YEARS. I had even forgotten the name of it. My Mom passed away November 26, 2013 at 91 years old and I would have LOVED to make this cake for her. I cannot wait to make this. I just can’t tell you how much this means to me. I will be 66 years old Nov 24th and this recipe brings back SOOOO many wonderful memories. Thank you so much. I stumbled across your website via Facebook and can’t take my eyes off of it. Love to cook all types of food. Live up north in Illinois all my life. But surely appreciate delicious food. I do have a tip for you that may help. Line your 9 X 12 pan with a strip of aluminum foil that overlaps the ends of the pan. Spray it or grease it well. When the cake is done and cooled, simply loosen it from the sides and lift it out. Should make removing it from the pan a lot easier. I do this with brownies that I plan to present as a dessert dish.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Marsha, HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I’m a day early, but let me wish you a very Happy Birthday, and many, many more Blessed Birthdays yet to come. I hope you’ll have a great one. Thank you for your comments regarding our Spanish Bar Cake. Keep in mind, that I’m trying to develop and recreate this myself. I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions if you actually bake the cake. Personally, I don’t remember it and have to rely on my older brother. He may just be being kind to me when he tells me it’s kind of close. (What does that really mean?)

      Thank you for the sheet cake tip. I’ll have to try that one. I’m happy we could bring back some good memories for you, and I do hope you’ll visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      PS. I’ll take your comments on the cake, good or bad, whichever way you think they should be. (Smile)

      • Marsha Barnett says:

        Hi Steve,
        Merry (early) Christmas! I’ve been so busy with the holidays, I haven’t done the cake yet, although all the ingredients sound spot on. I appreciate your response and since you are relying on your older brother’s memory of it, you wouldn’t remember this. It’s the size of the cake. It was a small double layer cake with frosting in the middle. The layers looked thicker than yours shown in the picture. The dimensions were 4 X 8 or 4 1/2 X 9 so, I’m thinking perhaps an 8 X 8 or 9 X 9 pan would be better. As a child, it looked small and perhaps that’s why it disappeared so darn fast. And yes, we scraped the cake off the paper they used to surround the cake to keep it fresh once opened. We weren’t going to waste one crumb of it! This cake is definitely in my cue for holiday treats. The hard part will be sharing it, though my sister definitely remembers this cake too. Hmm, one more thing to do before our Christmasing begins. She reminded me of my Mom calling it, “Rich,” a word she used for particularly delicious dishes. As children nothing was ever too rich for us and I often wondered what she was talking about. Now that I’m older I have had an occassion or two happening upon a few dishes that are too “rich.”
        Thank you for your birthday wishes. Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine.
        Bless You, too!

        • Sharon says:

          I almost forgot about scraping the paper with a fork til it was clean. It was the best. We would do it with the pound cake wrapper too.

  23. Lori D. says:

    I remember this cake so well, was my favorite as a child. I can remember wanting one of these everytime we went to the store. I even requested this for my birthday which was weird I guess for a small child. Thanks for the pleasant memories.

  24. Emily S. says:

    My dad owned the only grocery store and gas station in the small, rural NC area I grew up in, and we had Merita bread and cakes. But I definitely remember a spice bar cake just like this one!! It was one of my favorites. This would have been late 1960s-1970s. I so enjoy your blog and look forward to trying this recipe!

  25. Reggie Edmonds says:

    Thanks for the memory.
    Recently, my wife and I shopped for coffee and I was mentioning that I missed the aroma of the grinding of coffee beans in the old A&P Stores.
    When I accompanied my parents grocery shopping, I would always head for the coffee isle and just hope someone would come by to grind coffee. The picture of the Eight O’Clock brand is great.


  26. Patsy Behrendt says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS TRIP BACK IN TIME!! My Mom bought one of these cakes every single week at A&P along with the A&P coffee. She and my dad would eat it every morning with their coffee and then another slice at night after dinner. I have looked for them several times since my Mom passed but didn’t realize they were only from A&P. It is like all the other things we remember from our childhood, they are often gone but not forgotten. I will save this recipe and make it on my Mom’s birthday in remembrance on her!

  27. Lula mae ridings says:

    Love your site. I remember a lot of your recipes, brings back childhood memories. I too, wish heaven had a TELEPHONE.

  28. yeah i remember this mother use to make it . and it was the best spice cake

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