Bacon Grease Cake: Resuscitating an Oldie

The same problem arises in my kitchen just a little too often: After a few days of intense bacon activity, what to do with the cup or so of grease sitting on the counter?

For years, my go-to use for this grease has been Swedish ginger cookies — a recipe from New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn that is fool-proof. (If this sounds insane to you, bacon grease actually works very well in spicy sweets — the smokiness of the fat is a nice foil for the tastes of cinnamon, cloves etc. Just ask Modern Woman magazine, which listed it as one of 10 ways to use bacon fat in 1943.)

One can only eat so many bacon-fat ginger cookies, however. And when I started itching for something else, a little poking around online unearthed an old recipe for an intriguing blackberry jam cake …

As with many old recipes — likely ones scribbled down at a mother or grandmother’s elbow — this one was a little bewildering. The instructions are stingy and don’t include some important details, like what size cake pan to use.

(Not to mention what exactly “hard on a saucer” means with regard to the desired consistency of icing. I eventually figured that this probably means that if you put a few dribbles of the boiling icing on a cool plate and it hardens immediately, it’s ready.)

Even so, I was determined. Research says that cake batter should fill 2/3 to 3/4 of a pan. So after some pouring of batter from pan to pan to pan, I figured that a 9-inch round cake pan with two-inch high sides sounded about right for the amount of batter I had. (I could be wrong, however — the center of the cake sank a little as it was a little less cooked than it should have been, even after 45 minutes.)

Overall, despite its soggy center (which you certainly can see from that moist dark rope in the photo above), the cake was alright. It could have used more spices — I’d probably double the amount of spices listed and add nutmeg, mace and a splash of vanilla, perhaps. And perhaps, something more.

If any of you out there gives this a try though, let me know what you think. All brilliant ideas for bacon-grease cake improvements very welcome here.


Blackberry Jam Cake

(Recipe from Uncle Phaedrus Consulting Detective and Finder of Lost Recipes) 

1 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. butter or use bacon grease if you have it
1 c. blackberry jam
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. soda sifted with 2 c. flour
3 eggs

Cream butter and sugar. Add buttermilk alternately with flour sifted
with soda and spices. Add eggs, unbeaten one at a time. Last, add the
jam and mix lightly. Bake as you would any other cake: 350° for 30 to
40 mins. 

--Caramel Icing:--

2 c. brown sugar
2 c. white sugar
1 c. milk
1/2 c. margarine

Boil until it becomes hard on a saucer then beat until stiff. If it gets
hard add more milk. You can double this for more coverage.



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4 thoughts on “Bacon Grease Cake: Resuscitating an Oldie

    • It’s really terrific in spice cookies — I love the smokiness of bacon grease combined with cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg etc. Highly recc that!

  1. Found your blog from the Washington Post article you wrote on online cooking/baking groups a few years ago. They’re still going strong. I just joined my second one cooking Around my French Table, another Dorie Greenspan tome. Anyways, wish I had seen this post few days sooner; just threw out a can of bacon grease! If you bake this cake again, try reducing the baking soda down to 1/2 tsp. It looks like the cake over rose while baking and then collapsed in the center.

    • Aha — that sounds about right. Thanks for the tip — will try that next time! And how lovely — thanks for the update. I’ll look up some of your posts!

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