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Southern Louisiana Molasses Cake & Cookies From Scratch

Updated on January 12, 2012

Molasses Cakes from scratch - Back to basics

Not that long ago, molasses was a common kitchen staple in the well-stocked pantry. Today, many people would not know what it is. Additionally, even if someone has heard of molasses -- it isn't the first ingredient most of us today would think about, if we were going to make a cake.

Therefore, if you've never heard of molasses, it is a thick syrup by-product obtained by making sugarcane or sugar beet into sugar. Basically, there are three main types of molasses: Unsulphured, sculptured, and black strap molasses:

Unsulphured molasses is considered molasses of top quality. It has only the smallest amount of sugar has been removed. It is made from the juices of sun-ripened sugar cane that has been refined and concentrated.

Sulphured molasses is made from green sugar cane. It has been treated by sulphur fumes during sugar extraction. It is darker, less sweet, and has a stronger taste.

Black strap molasses has the strongest taste. Usually it is obtained in health food stores. It is prized for it's concentrated iron content. It also is used commercially in animal feed.

This recipe is more than seventy years old, found in the recipe box of my Great Aunt Julienne. If you are looking for a unique dessert, this family favorite may be one you should try.



1 cup molasses (Unsulphured molasses is preferred)

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup hot, strong black coffee

2 cups sifted cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 egg


1. Mix together the molasses, sugar, butter.

2. Add the hot coffee and stir gently.

3. Sift the dry ingredients and add.

4. Add the slightly beat egg.

5. Pour batter into greased cake pans.

6. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes.

7. Set aside to cool.


2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon strong black coffee

Fresh fruit for topping garnish (Suggested: strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, cherries)


1. Whip the cream.

2. Add sugar and coffee.

3. Spread between the layers and pile on top the cake.

4. Garnish top with fresh fruit.

Serve fresh immediately.

Molasses on a dairy farm in France (probably used as "molassed sugar beet feed", as an additive to cattle fodder)
Molasses on a dairy farm in France (probably used as "molassed sugar beet feed", as an additive to cattle fodder) | Source
I got a ginger molasses cookie (my favourite of theirs) and a Chunky Lola (chocolate chip with pecans). Yum!
I got a ginger molasses cookie (my favourite of theirs) and a Chunky Lola (chocolate chip with pecans). Yum! | Source

Molasses Squares

Another family molasses recipe -- Molasses Squares:


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup very hot water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts


  • Cream butter and sugar
  • Mix in molasses
  • Add eggs
  • Sift together all dry ingredients
  • Add gradually and alternately with water, vinegar, and egg mixture
  • Stir in raisins and nuts
  • Spread in 2 greased glass pans
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes

Then, let stand 15 minutes while you prepare the icing:

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Blended together and spread on the molasses squares. Cut while warm. Makes 5-6 dozen squares.


Successful Scratch Cake Tips

Successful scratch cakes can be achieved if:

  • You know that you can not substitute baking powder and baking soda. They are very different compounds.
  • You need to keep both baking powder and baking soda fresh. If they've been in your pantry for more than six months, you need to replace them. Don't just throw out the baking soda -- recycle it to being an odor absorber in your refrigerator, etc.
  • It's better to use cake flour, even if the recipe calls for all-purpose flour. Cake flour is of a finer density and will produce a nicer texture. Add two tablespoons extra per cup, if you make this substitution.
  • Dry measurements should be gently spooned into cups, not packed.
  • Mix any eggs called for, one at a time.

"Bolo de mel" is one of Madeira's culinary specialities - a heavy cake made with molasses (sugar cane is a common crop on Madeira)
"Bolo de mel" is one of Madeira's culinary specialities - a heavy cake made with molasses (sugar cane is a common crop on Madeira) | Source

More on Baking Cakes From Scratch

Baking cakes from scratch has until recently been more of a thing of the past. After all, it's pretty easy to buy a box of cake mix, throw in a few wet ingredients, and turn out a decent tasting cake.

However, there are some very valid reasons why many cooks are going back to "basics" and again seeing merit in baking cakes from scratch. One of the biggest reasons, is that by baking a cake from scratch, you control the ingredients. This means less additives, and creating healthy recipes.

Granted, it is a little harder to bake a cake from scratch, there is a certain science to achieving the correct amounts of flours, rising agents, wet ingredients, and flavorings. If you don't measure correctly, you risk having a cake that is flat, crumbles, is too dense, or doesn't taste right. While it requires more effort, the truth is -- it's not difficult if you follow simple directions.

Simple Cake Mix Cookies

If you are short on ingredients to make a cake from scratch, have a box of cake mix languishing in the pantry, or are short on money (cake mixes on sale are cheaper than buying the various more wholesome scratch ingredients) -- you can make cookies from cake mixes.

The recipe is simple:

  • Eliminate any water if the cake mix calls for it in the recipe.
  • Add 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Use 3 eggs regardless of how many cake mix calls for
  • Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes.


  • You can add 1 ½ cups of any other ingredient, such as chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, etc.


Molasses cookies from the Wikibooks Cookbook recipe
Molasses cookies from the Wikibooks Cookbook recipe | Source

Diabetic Oatmeal Cookies


  • 2 cups rolled or steel cut oats
  • 1 ½ cups cake flour + 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¾ cups raisins
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter (melted)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar


  • Preheat over to 350 degrees
  • Lightly spray pan with cooking spray
  • Mix dry ingredients (except sugars) in large bowl
  • Add raisins
  • Set aside
  • Cream wet ingredients with sugars
  • Blend thoroughly
  • Fold wet and dry ingredients in together slowly, mixing thoroughly each time
  • Bake twelve minutes
  • Cool on wire rack
  • Makes about three dozen cookies.

Equals 1 carbohydrate (1 bread/starch) per cookie.

NOTE: Diabetes is a serious disease requiring medical supervision. This recipe is provided with the understanding that quoted exchange will be strictly adhered to. Additionally, it is understood that blood glucose levels can be affected by not following your physician's instructions.

When You Run Out of Molasses

When you run out of molasses and don't want to run out to the grocery store, here are some substitutes you can make in any recipe calling for molasses:

  • Substitute for each cup of molasses -- one cup honey
  • Substitute for each cup of molasses -- 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • Substitute for each cup of molasses -- one cup dark corn syrup
  • Substitute for each cup of molasses -- one cup pure maple syrup


Molasses in General

Generations ago, molasses was a common ingredient in baked goods. Even after World War I, molasses was still less expensive than sugar even though sugar is made from molasses. Molasses is once again gaining in popularity, particularly for its health benefits.

In case you are wondering about the differences between dark molasses and light molasses -- Dark molasses is from the second boiling and light molasses is simply from the first boiling. Additionally, black strap molasses is a third boiling and the scrapings of the bottom of the molasses barrel -- that's why it is the darkest in color and has a more bitter or stronger taste.

Many people still use molasses not only for their baking, but also for flavoring of barbecue recipes, beans, and as a syrup on pancakes and waffles. Molasses is also a common ingredient in cattle feed and other pet foods.

One Recipe Many Cakes

Many older women are aware that they can use one simple basic cake recipe to make many cakes. The possibilities for variations are endless and only limited by the imagination of the cake baker. Here is the formula for a scratch cake by design:


  • 2 1/3 cups cake flour + 4 tablespoons additional cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk (or light cream)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions for some common variations:

Yellow Cake (no change in recipe)

  • Sift dry ingredients
  • Cut in butter
  • Add eggs individually
  • Add milk (or light cream) and vanilla
  • Beat at low speed for 3 minutes, scraping frequently with spatula
  • Bake in 9" x 13" pan at 350 degree oven for 30 minutes

White Cake variation (prepare same, except)

  • Use 3 egg white, instead of two whole eggs
  • Beat egg whites prior to adding
  • Chocolate Cake variation (prepare same, except)
  • Add ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder to recipe before adding milk or light cream

Spice Cake variation (prepare same, except)

  • Add 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Add ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Add ½ teaspoon ground allspice

Molasses Cookie Recipe

Molasses Bread Cake


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    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Judy Bedell! Don't know.

    • profile image

      Judy Bedell 

      10 years ago

      Looking for a place to purchase Lyon's Molasses.

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Aya! Yes, that's the theory and what I did, although I like Canadian honey better than orange blossom specials.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      10 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jerilee, I've heard that to get the full effect of the honey cure you have to use honey produced by local bees, in order to desensitize to local pollen. Is that true in your experience?

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Aya! I personally believe it to be healthier than bleached sugars and definitely artifical sugars. I use honey more than molasses, but do use it in certain cookie recipes. For me, a tablespoon of honey a day cured a lifetime of seasonal allergies. I think that anything with high fructose corn syrup will not be in my kitchen anymore.

      There's some links on my Death by Molasses hub to blackstrap molasses which I think is the healtiest choice.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      10 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jerilee, I'm glad this hub of yours has been commented on again, because I did not see it the first time around. I am very interested in alternative sweeteners, and molasses seems like a good choice.

      Could you compare it in terms of health benefits and also cost with High Fructose Corn Syrup?

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks Denny Lyon! I order it online here in Florida and sometimes pick up some on visits to Louisiana. Thanks for the links.

    • Denny Lyon profile image

      Denny Lyon 

      10 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

      Hi, Jerilee, but are you able to find Steen's Molasses in California? There are sources online. My husband loves it on his pancakes or waffles and it isn't quite as strong as blackstrap which practically bites you back! :) Great hub and am blogging this over to my Comfort Food From Louisiana blog - thanks for writing it!

    • Jerilee Wei profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerilee Wei 

      11 years ago from United States

      Thanks Vondre! Glad you enjoyed it. I'll have to check out your site the next time I'm in the mood for baking.

    • Vondre profile image


      11 years ago from Columbia, SC

      Hello Jerilee Wei,

      Thank you so much for the cake recipe. It looked amazing and tasted great! It was so beautiful that we didn't wanna cut the masterpiece. Thank you so much once again for sharing.

      Well, I too have a cake related hub page as well. Just click on my picture to check it out when you have time or go to to get my free cake book

      Happy Baking!



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