War & Peace Cakes

Secret recipes and family favorites for your period kitchen
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Lily left the valley
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War & Peace Cakes

Postby Lily left the valley » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:52 pm

Some folks here may still recall war cakes. Many recipes for everyday cooking and baking were created with war rationing in mind to help the women back home do their part for the war effort yet still serve nutritious meals to their families. For war cakes specifically, they had no eggs or milk in them. Many also had little or no butter involved to help with rationing of fats. Additionally, wheat flour was reduced or substituted with another type instead.

When the Japanese conquered the Phillipines during WW II, sugar also began to be steeply rationed because at that time it was the major source of sugar imports for the U.S. Additionally, shipments from Hawaii had to be curtailed 50% as cargo vessels were diverted for military purposes. Once again, war cakes and other recipes were developed to account for that as well.

In college, I was helping at a bake sale, and asked for a copy of the vegan chocolate cake someone else had made. When I made the recipe later, the lack of eggs, butter and milk made me think of the war cake recipe I bake. Yet there's a lot of wheat flour and sugar in it, and then there was cocoa as well. Precious cocoa that also would never have been used during war time rationing because of it being a base ingredient for chocolate. So from then on, I just started calling it the Peace Cake because in peace time, you could use as much of those three ingredients as you wanted. I also like the contrast of the two cakes below. War is dense and chewy, filled with hardy ingredients with a spicy bite that would sustain folks well in tough times. Peace is moist and lightly sweet with a smooth soft texture that feels like an afternoon pastime to be shard and enjoyed on a lovely day with good company.

War Cake :angry-fire:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit
2 tablespoons margarine
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour an 8 x 4-inch baking pan. Place the brown sugar, water, dried fruit, margarine, cinnamon and cloves in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook gently for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool until the mixture is comfortably warm to your finger, then pour into your mixing bowl. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add them to the cooled sugar mixture, beating until no drifts of flour are visible and the batter is smooth. Stir in the nuts. Spread evenly in the baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a broomstraw inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack to cool completely.

Peace Cake :romance-cloud9:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
6 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons vinegar
2/3 cup salad oil
2 cups cold water
finish topping of your choice

Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. In a large measuring cup, mix all wet ingredients except the water. Poke three holes in the dry ingredients and pour the liquid mix into each. Then pour the water evenly over all. Mix thoroughly. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool cake on wire rack.

Notes: This recipe results in a very moist cake, and due to this, some ovens I have had over the years have required a longer bake time or the cake does not bake consistently throughout. If I'm using a smaller pan as for cupcakes, it's never an issue. Yet when I make it in a larger pan like my favorite bundt, it has depended on the oven I'm using. When I use larger pans, I also flour dust the pan after greasing to help for a smoother release after cooling.

The type of oil you choose to use will shift the flavor in a noticeable way. I once made it with corn oil, and it wasn't bad, but it was odd. I don't ever use peanut oil, due to my own allergies, but I would bet, based on my experience with the corn oil, that it would give it an underlying nutty flavor that many would enjoy.

I usually only lightly dust this cake with confectioner's sugar per slice served because if you eat the cake over the course of a few days, the confectioners sugar one would normally put on top gets absorbed by the cake because of how moist it is. It can be downright sinful with a sweet glaze topping and fruit though. I don't frost a lot, so I can't speak to that.


--Proud member of the Industrious Cheapskate Club
--Currently pondering ways to encourage thoughtful restovation and discourage mindless renovation.

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JacquieJet
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Re: War & Peace Cakes

Postby JacquieJet » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:26 pm

Yum. Love the stories behind these recipes!! Thanks for sharing!!
1917-ish
Happy 100th birthday, house!!

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Sara
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Re: War & Peace Cakes

Postby Sara » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:04 pm

Maybe this is a dumb question but Lily - what's salad oil?

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Lily left the valley
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Re: War & Peace Cakes

Postby Lily left the valley » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:49 am

Sara wrote:Maybe this is a dumb question but Lily - what's salad oil?

It's not dumb at all. It's another name for vegetable oil. Some say that any plant oil that is liquid at room temp can fall under the salad/vegetable oil umbrella. My brain just prefers salad as a generic name because some common oils are really fruit oils.

Also, from a marketing standpoint, sometimes they'll mix them, putting lesser desired (and therefore often cheaper) types in to bulk up the oil overall and slap the generic "vegetable oil" label on it. (Like soybean instead of olive.)

I tend to use canola with this recipe. I've used corn oil in the past, but it just tastes off to me. We actually made a 1/2 batch of Peace Cake last week since only the toaster oven was usable for baking, with the sprinkled confectioner's when serving. I can't fit my usual bundt pan in that oven. :lol:

(I say "we" because Sean is still trying to learn the art of baking, and that was one we did together as it's dead easy--I've been baking up a storm lately for some reason. He was a cook for a while long ago and a few in between jobs since, but never a baker.)

Sorry I didn't reply sooner--I forgot to turn the reply notice on!
--Proud member of the Industrious Cheapskate Club
--Currently pondering ways to encourage thoughtful restovation and discourage mindless renovation.

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Sara
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Re: War & Peace Cakes

Postby Sara » Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:14 pm

Ahh! Thanks! I'm sure I could have been more proactive and googled for an answer but I was content to sit and patiently wait. ;)

I might have to try this one.


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