Saturday, December 22, 2007

1944: Wartime Christmas Recipes.

During, and for some years after WW II, the Ministry of Food in Britain put out regular Food Facts leaflets to help the public cope with rationing. Rationing was eased very slightly on some foods in the weeks leading up to Christmas – the authorities being well aware of the morale-boost that this would provide.

Food Facts No. 232 in the second week of December in 1944 had recipes for Christmas pudding and cake.

First, the “splendid Christmas Pudding recipe with a fine, rich, fruity flavour, which is not difficult to make. It tastes almost as good as pre-war!”

Christmas Pudding.
2 oz. plain flour, ½ level teaspoon baking powder; ½ level teaspoon salt; ¼ level teaspoon grated nutmeg, ¼ level teaspoon salt; ¼ level teaspoon cinnamon; 1 level teaspoon mixed spice; 4 oz suet or fat; 3 oz. sugar; 1 lb. mixed dried fruit; 4 oz. breadcrumbs; 1 level tablespoon marmalade; 2 dried eggs, reconstituted; ¼ pint pale ale, stout or milk. (Enough for 4-5 people).
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and spices together. Add sugar, fruit, and breadcrumbs and grated suet or melted fat. Mix with the marmalade, eggs and liquid. Mix very thoroughly. Put in a greased basin, 2 pint size. Cover with greased paper and steam for 4 hours. Remove paper and cover with a fresh piece and a clean cloth. Store in a cool place. Steam 2 or 3 hours before serving.

Christmas Cake.
½ lb. margarine, ½ lb. sugar (brown if possible); 5 dried eggs, dry; 10 tablespoons water; ½ teaspn. almond essence; ½ teaspn. vanilla essence; ¾ lb. plain flour; 1 level teaspn. bicarbonate soda; ½ level teaspn. Salt; 2 level teaspns. mixed spice; 2 lb. mixed dried fruit; 3-4 tablespns. ale, stout, or milk.
Cream margarine and sugar, adding dried eggs and water gradually. Beat until white and creamy. Add essences. Sift flour, soda, salt and spices together and add to mixture. Add prepared fruit and lastly the liquid, to make a fairly stiff mixture. Mix thoroughly. Put in a cake tin lined with paper, and bake in a slow oven for 3 hours. Leave in tin to cool. (Icing recipe in next week’s Food Facts.)

As promised, Food Facts No. 233 the following week had the recipe for ration-friendly icing, as well as several other ideas including one for wartime gingerbread men.

Icing made with ordinary Sugar and Household Milk.
Ingredients: 4 level dessertspoons sugar, 6 level tablespoons Household Milk, dry [i.e milk powder], 2 tablespoons water, colouring and flavouring.
Method: Mix sugar and milk together. Add water and beat till smooth.Add colouring and flavouring and sperad on top of cake.

Gingerbread Men.
Ingredients: 2 oz. sugar or syrup, 2 oz. margarine, 8 oz. plain flour, ½ level teaspoon mixed spice, 2 level teaspoons ginger, lemon substitute, 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.
Method: Melt in a pan the syrup or sugar and margarine. Pour into a bowl. Add some flour and the spice and lemon substitute. Stir well. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in a tablespoon of tepid water and add to the mixture. Continue stirring, gradually adding more flour. Finish the process by turning out the mixture on to a well-floured board. Knead in the remainder of the flour. Roll a small ball for the head, flatten it and place it on the baking tin. Roll an oblong for the body and strips for arms and legs. Join these together with a little reconstituted egg and put currants for the eyes.

Spiced Fruit Punch.
Ingredients: 1 level tablespoon marmalade, 1 level dessertspoonful syrup, ¼ - ½ level teaspoonful ground ginger, 1 tablespoon water, 2 tablespoons orange squash, 1 tablespoon lemon squash, ½ pint freshly made tea.
Method: Put marmalade, syrup, ginger, and water into a pan and make hot but do not boil. Add the lemon and orange squash and the tea and serve hot or very cold. (The tea should not be allowed to stand for more than 3 minutes before straining, and should not be very strong.

Snow Pudding.
Ingredients: 1 ½ oz. semolina, ½ pint milk and ½ pint apple pulp, or 1 pint fruit syrup, 1 ½ oz. sugar, coloured sugar for decorating.
Method: Cook the semolina in the milk or fruit syrup for 7-10 minutes, then beat in the appke and sugar. Turn into a bowl to cool. When cold, but not set,beat until light and frothy. Turn into a dish and just before serving, decorate with coloured sugar.

Coloured Sugar.
Ingredients: Put 2 level teaspoons sugar on a plate and add a few drops of food colouring. Mix well. Allow to dry before using as a decoration. If more than one colour is available, a very pretty effect can be obtained by using different coloured sugars.

[For the sake of completeness, these recipes have been added to the Vintage Christmas Recipes archive. The gingerbread men recipe has also been added to the Through the Ages with Gingerbread archive.]


T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I like these - its easy to see how people were able to make things festive and flavorful, even with limited ingredients. I've never baked with dried eggs, though ...

The Old Foodie said...

I like them too - I love the sheer bloody-minded spiritedness of them all. I dont think anyone will turn in their grave if you make one of these using fresh eggs.
Best wishes for the New Year

foreverautumn said...

These recipes remind me of recipes my mother had on pieces of scrap paper in a drawer when I was growing up. They were good then and I am sure they would be good now.

The Old Foodie said...

foreverautumn - I am sure you are right, some good things are still good decades(or even centuries) later.