Saturday, August 7, 2010

Remembering the A & P Grocery Store

In Brewster, N.Y. where I spent a majority of my childhood we had an A& P grocery store. Boy was that a great old store! I remember the store clerks taking our paper bags full of groceries and putting them in bins on this roller type belt and the bags would go outside for easy pickup.  I'm told the A& P is still there but we don't have any around here upstate that I know of anyway. On payday my dad would bring home Spanish Bar Cakes from the A& P and they were delicious.This was one of the highlights of our week back then!  We would carefully unwrap the clear cellophane packaging and lick any  frosting stuck to it . I can still taste that cake to this day. I loved how the white frosting on top had fork marks raked over it.  Somehow I got thinking about that cake and wondered if there was a recipe for it online. There are lots and each one seems just a bit different. I decided to try one for old time sake.
Here is the one I made

Spanish Bar Cake

Recipe compiled from various internet sources

Yields: one 9 x 13 in. cake (Makes 2 bar cakes)
I did add 1/4 cup molasses and 1 tsp. ground cloves to this recipe below as it didn't look quite dark enough to me.
Also, it made  a lot of frosting. you could probably 1/2 the frosting recipe below and have plenty.

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon  unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups applesauce

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups raisins, soaked in warm water until plump and drained

Buttercream Frosting

1 cup white shortening

1 cup butter, softened

8 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (can use clear if you want the frosting to be snow white)

4-6 tablespoons milk for thinning to desired consistency


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13 in. baking pan with cooking spray (or butter and flour). Plump the raisins in warm water (I do this in a measuring cup that I’ll use for wet ingredients later — one less dish to clean).
In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together. Add oil, applesauce, and eggs. Mix well. Add in raisins and stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan, rapping 3-4 times on a counter to release trapped air bubbles. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Let cake cool completely before frosting.
To prepare frosting, mix all ingredients until well combined. Add more milk if needed for consistency. Frost completely cool cake. Use a fork to rake grooves into the frosting to resemble A&P’s cake presentation.
Here is a pic of the one I made. Mine doesn't look near as pretty as A&P's did but boy is it yummy!! It really tastes close to A&P's. I made it in a 9X13 pan cut it into 4 equal pieces and stacked 2 layers together to make 2 cakes. Don't forget to frost the middle too , not just the top! The sides and ends were not frosted on the A&P cakes.  I piled on the frosting a bit thick. I think if you went with less frosting and then refrigerated it for a bit the fork marks would look much better too!! But you get the idea anyway.
I found this website about the history of the A& P store and found it quite interesting


  1. We had a local A & P too. I love the walk down memory lane!

  2. Oh, that cake looks GOOD! I remember Piggly Wiggly stores in Atlanta and Chattanooga when I was young.....I have heard of AP, but never seen one.

  3. I don't remember them, Cindy. We might not have had them here though. I love the old country stores. We had lots of Mom & Pop ones.

    That cake looks delicious! I think it turned out great! :o)

  4. That cake looks too yummy!!! And I love that the recipe sounds very fallish! May have to give this one a try! :-)

  5. Thanks for posting. I love the recipe - I grew up years ago and have memories of this spanish bar, but have not seen recipe. Thanks for sharing it.