Sue's World War II Cake Recipes

These recipes were contributed by a lady called Sue, who lives locally. She says: Here are two slightly unusual cakes. The first rises by the chemical reaction between vinegar & bicarb (you can't taste the vinegar in the finished cake, thank goodness). Although the recipe dates back to 1954, it might possibly be from WW2. It's easily 'veganised' by substituting oat for cow's milk. The second cake is apparently based on a WW2 recipe. It's also a boiled cake, which makes the dried fruit beautifully moist.

PS the cooking times below could well need adjusting; I appear to have one of the feeblest ovens in Camden! 

Eggless Cake

225g self raising flour

a quarter of a tsp mixed spice

50g margarine

110g sugar

50g chopped peel

110g dried fruit

half a tsp bicarbonate of soda

150ml cow's milk or oat milk

1 tbsp vinegar

1. Sieve dry ingredients and rub in margarine.

2. Add sugar, peel and fruit. 

3.Put bicarbonate of soda in a basin, mix smoothly with cow's milk or oat milk and stir in vinegar, then pour at once into dry ingredients, mix quickly, and put into a prepared small loaf tin. (The one used made a cake approx. 21.5cm long). 

4. Bake in moderate oven (350°F / 180°C / Gas Mark 4) for approx. 65 minutes, until well risen and firm to the touch. 

(The oat milk version is a bit crumbly if cut on the day it is made, but less so the day after).

WW2 Cake (Vegan) 

240 ml / 1 cup brown sugar (or to taste)

240 ml / 1 cup water

240 ml / 1 cup raisins or sultanas (experiment with other dried fruit, such as chopped ready-to-eat apricots) 

2 tablespoons oil (rice bran oil is good)*

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or mixed spice

half teaspoon ground cloves or mace

360 ml / 1 & a half cups plain flour

a pinch of salt

half teaspoon baking powder

half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

120 ml / half cup of chopped walnuts or pecans

1. Mix together the brown sugar, water & dried fruit & combine with the oil & spices in a heavy-bottomed saucepan & bring to the boil. Cook gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat & let cool until the mixture is comfortably warm to your finger. (Approx. 20 minutes - half an hour). 

2. While the mixture is cooling, grease & line a 7 & a half inch (approx. 21 cm) cake tin & preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 / 350°F / 180°C.

3. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder & bicarbonate of soda. Add to the cooled sugar & fruit mixture, beating until the batter is smooth & the flour is completely incorporated. 

4.Stir in the walnuts & then spread evenly in the cake tin & bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 1 & a quarter hours. (Check after an hour). When a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven & allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack to cool completely. 

(If possible, sift the flour mixture directly into the sugar & fruit mixture, so you don't have to use a mixing bowl). 

(For a 'grown up' version, this cake is particularly good if the water is replaced with Guinness). 

* Sainsburys stocks rice bran oil at around £2 for 500 ml.

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