Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ration Era Party Cake: Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge 16, Celebratory Foods

World War II Party Cake

Challenge 16: Celebratory Foods 
December 28 - January 10
It’s the end of the year, a time for celebration! Pick a celebratory food (either inspired by the season or not, it’s your call). Make it up and share it with loved ones!

The Recipe: Pink Layer Party Cake 
I chose to do a celebratory cake recipe from World War 2 which follows English food rationing guidelines.  Food rationing in England and America during World War 1 and 2 is very interesting to me (see my first food challenge here for additional information and another recipe).  

The interesting ration ingredients used in this recipe are:
  • Butter: Butter, along with bacon and sugar, were the first foods to be rationed in England, beginning January 8, 1940. To supplement the dwindling butter supply, two types of a National Margarines were made. There was a standard version and a special one which was supposed to be better quality than the standard. 
  • Sugar: The party cake recipe has a modest amount of highly coveted sugar (as opposed to a sugar substitute such as applesauce) which would indeed deem this cake worthy of a celebration!
  • Dried Eggs: In England, fresh eggs were rationed during the World War 2 beginning in June, 1942. However, because eggs were considered a good source of protein, dried egg powder became popular and was imported from America. A tin of dried eggs contained the equivalent of a dozen eggs and was considered “extra to your regular egg ration”.
  • Dried Milk/Blancmange Powder: Dried milk was also imported into England from America because herds of cattle were slaughtered for food for the troops. Two different types of dried milk were available. There was "Household Milk", a dried skim milk for general consumption. There was also "National Dried Milk", a dried "full cream" milk powder for feeding infants.
I found the ration cake recipe in Ration Book Cookery Recipe & History by Gill Corbishley, Swindon, UK: 1985 (2011 reprint).  The recipe was originally published during the war years by the Daily Telegraph in the compilation book Good Eating: Suggestions for Wartime Eating. 

The original recipe is designed to make a pink layer cake using a pink pudding packet; I could not find a pink pudding mix so I used a lemon yellow pudding mix instead.

Pink Layer Party Cake
75 g (3 oz) sugar
50 g (2 oz) margarine
150 g (5 oz) self-raising flour
150 g (5 oz) pink blancmange or pudding powder [I used a lemon yellow pudding because I could not fine a pink one]
2 dried eggs reconstituted in milk [I used about 1/2 cup milk]
Jam [I used strawberry]

30 ml (2 tbls) sugar
30 ml (2 tbls) water
small piece margarine
pink blancemange powder [a 2.9 ounce box]

Beat the sugar and margarine together. Mix the flour and blancmange powder together. Add the eggs and flour to the sugar mixture. Beat together well. Put the mixture into two greased sandwich tins and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. When cold, spread with a layer of jam and stick the two cakes together. To ice, boil the sugar, water and margarine together; allow to cool and mix in enough pink blancmange powder to make the icing the right colour an consistency.

Date/Year and Region
English/1940s, World War II

How Did You Make It
I added recipe notes to the recipe above.  Also note that I did not have real powdered eggs so I used this product instead:

Time to Complete
About 10 minutes to mix the cake batter, 20 minutes to bake, 5 minutes to mix up the icing while the cake is in the oven, and 5 minutes to assemble.

Total Cost
About $10, most if which was spent on the egg product and pudding packets.
How Successful Was It?
The cake and icing are really sweet and tasty with the lemon flavored pudding in both recipes. I used strawberry jam which was a nice contrast to the lemon. The texture of the cake is not great; however, if I were served this cake during the war years I would have been thrilled to have it!

How Accurate Is It?
I followed the recipe as it was written. However, I used a yellow pudding mix instead of a pink one. Additionally, you also need to consider that an American pudding mix from 2015 may not be exactly the same as a pudding blancmange mix from 1940s England. Also, I used a slightly different powdered egg product.


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