Old Witches Magic Nut Cake

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Reading the title of this post, you might initially think that I may have fallen down a rabbit hole chasing after witches and baking magic cakes! Not quite sure what is so magic about this cake but it was a fun story for me and one way to stay connected to my grandkids through baking.

My introduction to the recipe I am sharing came by way of a conversation I had with my daughter prior to the Thanksgiving holiday break. It seemed that she reconnected with a book that was read to her as a child, Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon by Wendy and Harry Devlin, which she decided to share with her children. As it turned out, at the end of the book is the recipe for the Magic Nut Cake that seemed straightforward enough for the kids so they decided to test their culinary skills. When I inquired about how their adaptation turned out, they said it was really good. That piqued my interest so I asked them for the recipe, which my grandson sent to me in a text message.

The book

Truth be told, there were a couple of instructions which seemed unclear to me, so in researching the recipe further I was able to fill in the blanks and piece together the recipe I am sharing with you here. Additionally, I substituted roasted and pureed kabocha squash I had on hand instead of canned pumpkin puree (same family), and since this was a nut cake, I doubled the number of walnuts called for in the original recipe. Finally, I decided not to ice the cake as suggested in the original recipe, and instead send a loaf cake to each of my daughters so the grandkids can ice the cakes themselves having some additional fun with the recipe. The icing ingredients and instructions are included here if you are so inclined.

Old Witches Magic Nut Cake

Ingredients (yields two loaf cakes)

3 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree (or other)
¾ cup vegetable or olive oil
½ cup water
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2¼ cups sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1¼ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioner’s sugar

In a large work bowl whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, oil, and water until smooth and thoroughly combined, set aside.

In another large work bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon until thoroughly combined. Add the raisins and walnuts, again whisking until they are evenly distributed throughout the dry ingredients.

Generously butter and lightly flour two loaf-type baking pans, set aside.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then using a rubber spatula fold the ingredient mix together until completely incorporated and no dry ingredients are visible.

Pour the batter, divided evenly, into the prepared baking pans and place in the preheated oven to bake for 1¼ hours, depending upon how your oven cooks.

The batter

Use a cake tester or toothpick to check the doneness of the cakes. If it comes out clean, place the baking pans on a rack to cool.

Out of the oven

When the baking pans are cool enough to handle, invert the loaf cakes onto the rack to cool completely.


While the cakes are baking, if you intend to use the icing, whip together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and the confectioner’s sugar until smooth and completely combined. When the cakes are cooled to room temperature, evenly spread the icing over and leave to set.

Now that is magic!

This is an easy and fun project to bake with your kids or to connect with your grandkids in the kitchen. Perhaps the magic is how good the house smells while the baking is underway, so you might want to give this one a try!

Eat well. Be well.


The dishes of our childhood stay with us forever.



  1. Dorothea Filippone

    Very similar to the zucchini cake that I’ve been baking for years (give or take a couple of ingredients!) …..but didn’t know it had such an interesting name! It warms my heart to think about you connecting with your grandchildren…….also adds many years to my life!! Enjoy them……it’s such a pleasure! Aunt Dot

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