When I was in college, I had a craving for my grandma's molasses cake so I called her up to get the recipe. After telling me the ingredients, she (a woman who had learned to cook on wood stove) said, "And then you bake it."
"At what temperature, grandma?" I asked.
"In a moderate oven," was her reply (with a hint of impatience).
"Um, what temperature is that, though?"
Very impatient now: "About 350."
"Okay," I say, "How long do I bake it for?"
Her (perfect) response? "Until it's done."
Grandma left school after the eighth grade, so she never had much confidence writing or reading, and I never saw her with a cookbook or written recipe, even though she was an amazing cook and baker. Now that she's gone, I've realized that this may be the only recipe of hers that's been written down and saved. I make it for my uncle (her son) every year at Christmas, since it's also one of his favorites.
I also like it as a holiday dessert/gift because it's only sweetened with molasses and is a nice departure from rich sugar and butter cookies. —doctorbaker
Test Kitchen Notes
This cake is perfect. Rich with molasses and lightly spiced, it's a nice alternative to the cloyingly sweet cakes found at popular coffee shops. Pair it with homemade whipped cream for dessert, or even better, alongside a strong cup of coffee at breakfast. I baked it in an 8 by 8-inch Pyrex dish; it took 40 minutes and came out dense with a moist crumb. —whitneygerhard