WWII Rations: Baking a Pudding?

(Image: Morguefile.com)

After reading all about British rationing during World War II I decided to try one of the recipes. This is a side effect of studying culinary history – edible research material!

I thought about trying my hand at green veggies or potato mash, but I deferred to a dessert recipe. I chose ‘Spiced Cottage Pudding with Lemon Sauce’ from Victory Cookbook: Nostalgic  Food and Facts From 1940-1954 by Marguerite Patten OBE.

I only got as far as the ‘Spiced Pudding’ and discovered that ‘pudding’ is one of those English words that has multiple meanings. My impression of pudding is a gooey, chocolaty, semi-liquid that one makes in a pot on the stovetop, but this recipe is more of a bread in the style of ginger-bread. A cake really.

Here is the recipe with my additions and tweaks:

Spiced Cottage Pudding (or in the States – Spice Cake)

-8 oz (1 cup) flour (I used whole wheat) with 4 teaspoons baking powder

-Pinch of salt

-2 tablespoons dried egg (or two fresh eggs)

-3 oz fat (light olive oil)

-3 oz sugar (a measurement also known as a ‘snit!’)

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

-1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

-Approximately 1/4 pint (half a cup, or a little less) milk

(I used reconstituted dried milk to get in the spirit of WWII rations, and although being smelly, it incorporated effectively.)

Instructions: Mix the flour and baking powder with the salt and dried egg. Mix the fat in well. Add the sugar with the spices; mix to a stiff consistency with the milk (you may not end up using all the milk). Turn into a greased pan about 8×6 inches (the cake will rise moderately, like gingerbread). Bake in the center of a moderately hot (350° F) oven for 30 minutes. Cut in squares and serve hot.

> The result was a nice firm, if slightly dry cake with a lovely spicy flavor. This tasty cake, along with a dollop of whipped cream, would go well with coffee or tea.

Interestingly, the amount of sugar in this cake is far less than what we normally see in recipes. So much so, that you might mistake it for a snack cake rather than a full-blown dessert. However, remembering back to the 8 oz a week ration of sugar per person, you can see why recipes of that time were spare with the sugar. Sugar was as rare as diamonds!

There you have it – a recipe for history!

– Amanda Stiver