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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

WWII Eggless, Fatless Gingerbread

Eggless, Fatless Gingerbread
A couple of years ago I got inspired by the BBC programme 'Wartime Farm' to try out some recipes from the WWII era, the whole plan was to grow veggies and try to live a 1940's lifestyle, sadly I found that my life wasn't wholly compatible with the 1940's, cooking everything from scratch required a lot of effort and after just a few months, my efforts bit the dust, along with the blog I set up. However it's still there so I thought I'd take what posts were still relevant and add them to my "warts an' all" blog, then I'm going to delete the WWII blog.

The problem I have found is I have a lot of hobbies and interests, the primary one is herbs which will never change, I've started blogs for my love of France, for crafting and even slimming, they all start out well, but with so many interests their isn't time to keep them all going and do the day job and look after the home, hubby, cats and garden. So slowly but surely French posts will be culled from the French blog, diet recipes may end up here but herbal stuff will always go on my herby blog. If I have almost everything in one place, I have more to write about which means I can blog more often when my work schedule allows ::whispers to self 'Good luck on that!'::

So lets cast our eyes - and mind if you've a half a mind to - to 28th September 2012 and look at my Eggless, Fatless Gingerbread recipe that I made when my copy of Wartime Farm arrived, I'll add some [bracketed annotations] to the text if things worked or didn't....

My copy of Wartime Farm arrived at the beginning of the week and I began reading it with relish, I'm fascinated by the herbs used during the wartime information that's in the book although for a true herbaholic like me the section could have been bigger, but more of that in a later post as I've been doing some research on the WWII herb gatherers, what they gathered and they used the herbs for.

Watching the Wartime Farm series has kindled in our household a desire to do more for ourselves [honestly it did, we did try to be more self sufficient for almost 4 months]. Mr C announced last night he wants to learn how to make furniture, in particular bookshelves, we've been coveting a pair that would cost us almost £1,000 they're oak and rustic looking, something Mr C reckons he could achieve himself for a lot less money [he got as far as buying chisels and a few technique books!]. Don't get me wrong he's a dab hand at lots of things, he can fix plumbing and electrical problems and he's made me raised beds, potting benches and the like for the garden, but they are a little 'Heath Robinson', he wants to learn how they made furniture "in the old days", my comment that they probably took lessons from Heath Robinson met with Mr C's classic 'pickled onion' face lol!

So he's decided that as he doesn't know how to do dovetail joints and that kind of thing, and as there are no surviving family members to teach him, he's off to do a woodworking night class [never happened, we took French classes instead!]. He'll go for a 10 week course, downside is he's missed the start of the September course and has to wait until the next one starts in January! He's disappointed, shades of the allotment here, I said no allotment, until he proves he's willing and able to take it on, so a delay for his grand scheme there to. On the plus side if all goes to plan he'll be able to build a shed on the allotment when we get it lol!

Luckily not everything has to wait, well at least not very long anyway.... The picture of the Gingerbread Cake in Wartime Farm looked so yummy I just had to make it, the fact that it's a fatless and eggless recipe was an added bonus. I had to do a double take though, I thought there had been some cheating going on for the photo because in my mind, no way can a cake be that spongy without fat and eggs! I looked at the ingredients and I had everything in the store cupboard to make it, super thinks I, cake for Mr C's pack up tomorrow.

So I assembled the ingredients...

1/2lb Self-Raising Flour
6oz Golden Syrup
2 Tsps Ground Ginger
1 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1/4 Pint Tepid Water

I also added....

2 Tsps Milk Powder

Making the cake is simple, you put the flour and syrup in a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients in a jug and then pour the jug contents into the flour and syrup mix until you have a nice creamy batter, you can see the effect of the bicarb almost immediately the batter starts to become foamy, that's the bicarb doing it's egg substitute thing, bicarb is a natural raising agent and that makes the cake light and airy or spongy.

The next step is to turn the batter into a greased tin they say 11" x 7" in the book, but I didn't have one so I used a 9" x 9" tin instead. Next bake the cake in a moderate oven (gas mark 4, 180 degrees Celsius, or approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit) and leave it there for 45 mins to 1 hour, check it after 45 mins to see if it's done or not.

The final stage is very important to note when you want a cake for serving after tea or for the hubby's pack up the following day... Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in a tin and do NOT cut for 2 days!!! There's logic in that instruction, when the cake first comes out it's a bit dry looking, leaving it to stand for a couple of days lets the syrup work its magic and make the rest of the cake turn into the sweet sticky texture we know and love when we think of gingerbread.

Taste test.... Gingerbread when all said and done is supposed to be more bread like and less like a cake in texture, so don't expect a sponge cake. We couldn't wait and did cut some and eat some an hour or so after it came out of the oven, it tasted okay but a bit 'dry'. By the following morning it was moister and tasted a lot better! In all honesty I can 'taste' the bicarb of soda in the cake, but it isn't unpleasant so don't be put off.

As for the over all taste next time I think I'd add 5oz golden syrup and 1oz of treacle, this gingerbread was a little 'pale' for my tastes. I think I'd also pop in a little cinnamon or mixed spice as well. But overall it's a hit especially when you take into account that WWII housewives could save their precious egg and fat rations and still have cake! Mr C took a slice in his pack up today and we have gingerbread for the weekend with a nice cup of tea, bonus! Just need to remember to make it a few days before we want to eat it in future lol!

The cake cuts into 15 slices doing the maths on the calories in the syrup and flour it works out at just 90 calories a slice you can check the calorie values in other WWII recipes here.

August 2014 Addendum: As this blog evolves I'll be making and sharing recipes from not just WWI and WWII but from other periods in history, some will be authentic, some will have a modern day twist. One thing we did learn from our short WWII cooking adventure in 2012 was that some of the food was not to our modern day tastes, somethings we couldn't eat, others were pleasantly surprising. The whole point of doing this is to save money, and whilst I appreciate that my Grandmother and Great- Grandmother and their families had no choice but to eat the food that was put on the table, today because of their sacrifice I can chose to eat what I want and if it tastes like wallpaper paste and looks like frogspawn I'm NOT eating it, sorry Nanna!

My aim is to make more things for the home, get back to basics and cook from scratch and generally make do and mend, eat with the seasons and revisit old school methods. I'm not going to start wearing a pinny and hair rollers and listening to the Andrew's sisters or Al Jolson, and I know some of my friends do live 'retro' lifestyles, they're happy and I learn lots from them, but I'm a 20th century girl and no amount of mock duck will change that. So onward and upward...

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Thanks for your comments on my cards and posts, they are very much appreciated, I'll get back to you as soon as I can if a reply is required. Hugs - Debs x