Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tea for Christmas.

December 6 ...

Much to the delight of the tea-loving British, the tea ration was temporarily doubled in 1942, as a concession to the Christmas season. There were many other privations, but being forced to restrict their tea intake was one of the hardest things for the British people to tolerate during World War II.

Rationing in Britain reached its most stringent towards the end of 1942, and for one adult for one week, the allowance was:

One shilling and tuppence's worth of meat.
Eight ounces of sugar
Eight ounces of fat (butter, margarine or lard)
Four ounces of bacon or ham
Two ounces of tea
Two ounces of cheese
One egg

Restricted tea meant that something had to go, and it was the ‘teaspoon for the pot.’ The action was officially sanctioned by the Ministry of Food in Food Facts Leaflet No. 126:

Tea strong enough “for a mouse to dance on” may be a nice drink when you are tired, but it isn’t really good for you. Strong tea makes cheese and meat much more difficult to digest. Try making it this way: it is an economy and an aid to digestion. Allow for 1 teaspoonful of tea per person, but not one for the pot. Warm the teapot first. Pour on the water as soon as it boils. Give the tea three minutes to brew.

It must have been a huge treat, to get a whole FOUR ounces of tea in the weeks leading up to Christmas. No doubt much of it was used to wash down Christmas Cake and Mince Pies. There are many recipes for these in the Christmas Recipe Archive however, so today (knowing that most of you love the baking recipes best) I thought I would give you wartime cake recipes from three countries.

From England, using golden syrup (see yesterday’s post) and leftover bread (must not waste it).

Golden Bread.
6 oz self-raising flour
3 tablespoonsful golden syrup
3 oz stale breadcrumbs
1 oz shelled walnuts
2 oz sultanas
½ gill milk
2 oz Stork margarine
1 egg
pinch of salt.
Brush a bread tin with melted Stork and dust with flour. Sift the self-raising flour and salt into a basin, rub in the Stork, add the breadcrumbs, walnuts roughly chopped, and sultanas, cleaned in a little flour. Beat the egg, add the milk and the golden syrup to it, stir into the mixture and beat well. Put into the prepared tin and bake for ¾ hour in a moderate oven. Serve hot for tea.
[The Stork Wartime Cookery Book]

From Australia, using stewed pineapple in the cake batter.

Pineapple Cake.
Simmer a teacupful of finely shred pineapple and juice with quarter cup sugar for 15 minutes, then cool it. Cream three tablespoons clarified codfat [similar to suet, not from fish!] with one cup of sugar, and when smooth and thick, beat in the stewed pineapple and the grated rind of one lemon. Now sift some plain flour, and measure four teacupfuls into the sifter. Add three level teaspoons baking powder and sift together twice. (It is most important that the flour be sifted before being measured.) Use a glass teacup for measurements.
Measure out quarter cup tepid water. Whisk three egg whites very stiff. Add one-third of the flour to the pineapple cream and then half the water. Blend well.Fold in half the remaining flour and the rest of the water. Then use the egg whites to work in the remaining flour. Don’t beat once the eggs are in – just stir and fold. Moisten at the end with the juice of the lemon. It will be a fairly thick mixture. Turn into a well-greased tin. Bake in a moderate oven 45 to 60 minutes. When cold ice all over with a soft frosting of icing sugar, flavoring, and a few drops hot water.

From America, a popular marble cake.

Marble Cake
⅓ cup butter or other shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¾ cups cake flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 ounce (1 square) chocolate, melted.
Cream shortening, add sugar gradually and cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Sift dry ingredients together 3 times and add alternately with milk to creamed mixture, beating until smooth. To ⅓ of the batter add chocolate and blend thoroughly. Place by spoonfuls in a greased tube pan, alternating light and dark mixtures. Bake in a moderate oven (350F.) 1 hour.
[The American Woman’s Cook Book, 1939]

Tomorrow’s Story …

Not bacon, not ham.

Quotation for the Day …

Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. Mary Ellen Chase


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

Yes, we do enjoy the baking recipes, and they all sound decent given the restrictions of wartime. Is "golden syrup" what we would call light corn syrup in the states?

The Old Foodie said...

Hello t.w
Corn Syrup is a similar (but not the same) texture, but does not have the same caramelly flavour of golden syrup. Shall I send you a can?