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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekend Cooking: War Cake

Weekend Cooking

So some of you will have noticed that I have been re-reading/reading for the first time some of the Dear America diaries. Since I have been listening to them on audio book I didn’t remember that there were all kinds of extra historical content at the back of the books. Usually I peruse the Scholastic website to find the historical recipes that they have for certain books, but they didn’t cover the book I was looking for, My Secret War by Mary Pope Osborne (they primarily are only featuring the books that have been re-released since 2011). So I went over to Amazon and with their Look Inside feature I was able to access all the back pages with the historical content and found a recipe for War Cake.

As My Secret War is set on the home-front of the United States during World War II one of the aspects that is featured in the book is rationing. War Cake is a recipe that took into account the rations that were in place at the time. War Cakes came in many varieties. This version uses less sugar (because apparently sugarcane could be converted into gunpowder somehow) and also doesn’t use eggs or milk. I have heard from a co-worker whose wife makes a War Cake for her history class that her recipe uses bacon grease because that was something that was save due to rations on butter and oil.


War Cake
Makes 1 Cake

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cup raisins
2 Tbsp. butter/margarine
1Tbsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup chopped walnuts


1)  Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8”x4” (loaf pan).
2)  Place brown sugar, water, raisins, margarine, cinnamon, and cloves in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until mixture is lukewarm.
3)  Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
4)  Add flour mixture to the cooled sugar mixture, beating until the batter is smooth. Stir in the walnuts.
5)  Spread evenly in the baking pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.

Recipe from My Secret War by Mary Pope Osborn, pg 178.


I have to say that my boyfriend was NOT interested in me making this cake. He certainly didn’t want to eat anything that had less or none of the ingredients that make a cake the “way it should be”. So initially I gave in to make boxed Halloween Fun-Fetti cake, except guess what, we had no eggs! So War Cake it was (which because of the rationing didn’t require eggs!)

Also, apparently I read the recipe wrong and used an 8”x8” baking pan, so they came out more like bars than bread but came out good none the less. Use a little less time (about 15-20 minutes) if you use the square baking pan.

I was pleasantly surprised by this cake. I don’t typically like raisins or walnuts in deserts but it really make the cake. It had a spice cake flavor which was nice. I topped the cake with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting which enhanced the flavor. My boyfriend even liked it. He said that he wouldn’t ask for it for his birthday but would eat it if it was made. So I guess that is a decent endorsement considering how against the cake he was. An interesting experiment in wartime rationing (I would never have eaten the bacon grease one I described earlier, and I sent this War Cake recipe home with my co-worker for his wife!).

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and any post remotely related to cooking can partake!


Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Fun experiment. I have a bunch of war recipes from my grandmothers. Women sure were resourceful.

    1. They had to be! Neither of my grandmothers were much in the way of cooking - so I don't have any of theirs but I do find it interesting to experiment with these old recipes.

  2. War cake - that's a new one on me. have a good week.

    1. I had heard of it before but had no idea what was in it - apparently it could be a variety of things.

  3. very interesting, thanks for sharing this info and the recipe. i had never seen an actual recipe for one of these, even though i know cake/sweets were few and far between then.

    1. You are right, they would have only been able to make these on the rare occasion.

  4. I just saw some other wartime recipes the other day - boy did they have to think out of the box! Just imagine the ecstasy of the end of rationing...

    1. Oh they much have been absolutely thrilled at that point! This was my first viewing of a wartime recipe.

  5. That actually sounds quite good for fall with walnuts and those spices.

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. It had a very nice fall spice flavor. For the small amount that is actually in it, there was quite the flavor.

  6. This is so neat - I am going to try it. I was recently experimenting with some 1920's-1930's cookbooks and noticed that they paid a lot of attention to the number of eggs used in each recipe. Seems like eggs were a major cost consideration at the time - and during the war they were even more limited. Fascinating. What a great post - thanks for this.

    1. I noticed that too - not sure why - maybe they were sending eggs over to the troops. Hope it come out good for you!

  7. What a wonderful project for history teachers. I love that your boyfriend said he wouldn't ask for it for his birthday, but if it was made, he'd eat. Too funny!

    1. I think it would be an awesome add in for a history project. I think my boyfriend's response was like every man - they wouldn't ask for it but if it is there they will eat it!


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