Scripture Cake (Oklahoma, 1970s)

The scripture cake is an old standby in church cookbooks.  Spoiler alert – it’s a spice cake with raisins and figs – but unless you’re an adept bible scholar you’d never know it from reading the recipe.  The ingredient lists have been replaced with obscure bible verses (e.g. 1 cup of Jeremiah 6:20), and even the very devout will need to sneak a peek from the Good Book to get the recipe right.  The verses cited are all from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, and thus suitable for the whole of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but this isn’t exactly devotional reading.  Any moderately interested party can decipher the recipe quickly on the internet.

The pitfall for the twenty-first century cook will be picking the right translation.  This recipe largely predates the explosion of modern English translations, and if you go to war with something like the New International Version you might get more than you bargained.   Jeremiah 6:20, which translates as “sweet cane” in the King James Version shows up as “spices” or “calamus” in other versions, and Judges 5:25 might be interpreted as butter or curdled milk.  The ingredient in Amos 4:5 is supposed to be leaven but it sometimes translated as “leavened bread”.  To compound the confusion, leaven is typically interpreted to mean “yeast”, but in context it looks like baking powder is the better choice.   And if we want to split hairs it looks like Jeremiah 17:11 refers to fertilized chicken eggs.  Balut can be hard to come by in American markets, and I imagine it will affect the texture of the final cake.   If you want Scripture Cake to taste like cake, you’ll need to stick with the King James Version.

I’ve presented the recipe below as it appears in Adventures in Food, a 1970s cookbook from my parents’ Oklahoma congregation.   If you’re not a part of the Judeo-Christian faith tradition,  you can find a Shakespearean translation of the same recipe here.

Scripture Cake (Oklahoma, 1970s)

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 45 min
  • Ready in: 1 h
  • For: 1 cake
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  1. Cream Jeremiah 6;29 and Judges 5;25. Add beaten Jeremiah 17;11, 1st Samuel 14;25, and Judges 4;19.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients and add to first mixture. Beat thoroughly.
  3. Fold in 1st Samuel 30;12, Nahum 3;12, and Numbers 17;8.
  4. Add to a greased baking dish or Bundt pan, and bake 45 minutes at 350 F or until a toothpick inserted in the center is clean.

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