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Dark Molasses Cake with Streusel

For me, this is an unusual cake because it doesn’t have any sugar in it. Instead, it relys on molasses for sweetness. Though molasses is derrived from boiling sugar cane when it is processed into sugar, it is not entirely sweet. The darker the molasses is – meaning that it comes from the second boiling of sugar cane as opposed to the first – the more likely it is to have a bitter quality to it. This can be rather off-putting if you don’t anticipate it. The bitterness goes fairly well with a cup of coffee, but it has been offset here by a light topping of streusel, which does contain a bit of sugar.

Once baked, the cake stays fairly moist, while the streusel crisps up nicely. On the first day it is made, there will be a lovely, contrasting crunch from the slightly sugary topping. If you take care to have streusel and cake in each mouthful, the strong molasses flavor of the cake will be perfectly balanced. It will soften once the cake has been wrapped up, but that doesn’t take anything away from the flavor.

If you prefer to use light molasses, your cake will lack the slight bitterness that the darker molasses gave mine. To avoid this entirely, or if you cannot get molasses at all, you can substitute golden syrup or treacle for the molasses. The lack of refined sugar in this might be enough to qualify it as a “lo-carb” cake. I’m not completely sure, but perhaps Elise might know, since she is looking into lower-carb options this month.

Overall, I really liked this cake. I worried that it would be too dark or too strong, but it was neither. It was moist, interesting and, perhaps best of all, topped with streusel. It was easy to put together and a little bit different from the usual fare. Perfect for a cold winter morning and outstanding with a cup of hot coffee.

Dark Molasses Cake with Streusel
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
1 egg
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
½ cup milk
½ cup dark molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract

Streusel Topping
(Feel free to double if you want extra)
1 tbsp butter, cold
1 tbsp ap flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp oats (1-minute or coarsely chopped rolled oats)
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 8×8 square baking pan with butter or cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine all streusel ingredients and rub butter in with your fingers, until the mixture is crumbly and evenly blended. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg, then add melted butter, milk, molasses, and vanilla. Whisk thorougly and pour into flour mixture. Stir until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl, and pour into prepared pan.
Top evenly with streusel mixture.
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Cool on a wire rack.
Serves 9-12, depending on how big you like your pieces.

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  • The Cookbook Junkie
    January 10, 2006

    This looks like something that would be great with a cup of tea.

    I made a Cinnamon Cider Cake with 1/2 cup of molasses but it also had an entire cup of sugar, so I can imagine that this recipe here wasn’t terribly sweet. Still sounds delicious.

  • Elise
    January 10, 2006

    Hi Nic,
    I would suspect that molasses has just as many carbs as refined sugar. But if you want to ask an expert, check with Alanna at A Veggie Venture.

    Looks delicious!

  • Clare Eats
    January 10, 2006

    That is a beautiful looking cake Nic

  • Huffy
    January 10, 2006

    Oh,goodness! I’ve been a molasses lover since childhood, so this cake appears to be right up my heavily southern-influenced (maternal side) alley. I’m also a fan of sorghum, which just might work here as well.

    At our local farmers’ market, the honey vendor sells both light and dark buckwheat honey. The latter is as full, deep, potent, and rich-tasting as molasses; spread on hot biscuits, I am helpless before such luscious carbohydrates, which due to the luck of genetics, I don’t have to avoid.


  • Cathy
    January 10, 2006

    Nic – this sounds delicious! I love the taste of molasses, though I am more familiar with the light molasses than the dark.

  • Ethan UK
    January 11, 2006

    This looks great – and sounds delicious – will definitely have a go at making it. Incidentally as a shameless plug (sorry!) you might like to try out a bread machine molasses sultana oatmeal and ginger loaf I posted on recipezaar a while back. Your streusel topping sounds like a superb idea and am definitely hooked – I may try that on a carrot cake too. I’ve been hooked for the last hour reading your recipes and my mouth has been watering at some of your excellent photos. What a marvellous blog! Thank you for sharing these wonderful recipes!

  • Katy
    January 18, 2006

    Nooo! this looks too good to be true. Seriously food orgasm worthy.

  • Alicia
    August 2, 2008

    I made this the other night. It was delicious. My husband and I enjoyed fresh corn-on-the-cob with this yummy cake. It makes for a easy, quick summer meal. Thanks for sharing. Will use this recipe again and again.
    Very Satisfied,

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