I found this in a collection of Civil War era recipes. I’ve tweaked it a little since the original recipe produced a very heavy, dense cake. It works well for cupcakes also and the brown sugar makes for a smooth, lightly-crusted top which is perfect for decorating. The taste is not unusually strong, so I would suggest using a light frosting.


Amount Ingredient
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup sour milk
1/2 cup water – optional
1/2 tsp baking soda dissolved in the milk
3 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter flavoring
1/2 cup chopped nuts – optional
1 cup raisins – optional


This is so easy – - place all ingredients except nuts and raisins in your bowl and mix well, then stir in nuts and raisins. This makes a thick batter, so if you want you can add the water. This recipe will make 2 full 8″ rounds or 2 dozen cupcakes. Bake at 300 (or less, but no higher) and check after 1 hour. I found it took about 1 hr, 15min.


bobwonderbuns Says... 8 Feb 2012 , 5:35pm

Question: When you say "sour milk", is that buttermilk?

landylou Says... 8 Feb 2012 , 7:43pm

That would be a yes.

jgifford Says... 9 Feb 2012 , 8:49am

Sour milk is not buttermilk. You can leave milk out overnight or add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to it to make it sour.

bobwonderbuns Says... 9 Feb 2012 , 10:30am


ickworthpark Says... 9 Feb 2012 , 12:27pm

Buttermilk is what's left after you have made butter. It is sour but would have a low fat content as the fat has been converted into butter through churning.

fearlessbaker Says... 10 Feb 2012 , 3:48pm

This looks like an interesting cake. Has Anyone else made it. Which milk is used here, sour milk or buttermilk. My mom used sour milk which is totally different. Thanks,FB

lucy74 Says... 18 Feb 2012 , 9:50pm

sour milk is plain yogurt

jgifford Says... 20 Feb 2012 , 1:46pm

Sour milk is sour milk. It was used very often as an ingredient before there was buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt. Sorry, I guess I'm showing my age since I didn't think using sour milk as an ingredient would lead to any questions. To me, it's not that unusual. :)

jgifford Says... 20 Feb 2012 , 2:28pm

Back when more people drank milk straight from the cow and refrigeration wasn't what it is now, milk went sour very fast. Instead of throwing it out, they discovered that it didn't adversely affect the taste of cakes, pancakes, batter for fried chicken, etc. As long as it was cooked, it was fine. I grew up using sour milk for cooking so this didn't seem strange to me. Milk can be left out overnight or a teaspoon of lemon juice can be added to sour it.

angiecares Says... 21 Feb 2012 , 5:05am

If this recipe works good for cupcakes, wonderful! thanks for sharing

michelefarrow Says... 9 May 2012 , 2:08am

Looking for something different to bake so going to have a go at this today. Familiar with using sour milk etc in baking so won't be entering the sour milk/buttermilk debate :-) Thanks for sharing.

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