The Icing on the Cake

If you made the Wartime Christmas Cake here is a recipe from 1942 to cover it with “marzipan”, note the use of our old friend the potato. No real icing, sugar was rationed.

Wartime Marzipan Paste

4 tablespoons mashed potato
1 teaspoon white of egg
1 tablespoon sugar
Few drops of almond essence

Mix all ingredients well together. Spread top of cake while still hot with honey or a little blackberry jelly, press marzipan out to size of cake, put on top and press into shape. Pinch up round the edges and score with a fork.
Put back into oven and brown up. While still hot sprinkle a circle of grated chocolate in the centre.


Looking for a Date?

Toasted Date Sandwiches

Ever wondered what happened to those boxes of dates that used to appear at Christmas, famously called “Eat Me”. You know the ones, packed in thin wooden boxes complete with a quaint wooden fork, that used to hang around on the sideboard until Easter. Well they are still available, alas the box is now plastic. Some might say that applies to the contents but that would be unkind. This recipe is from the 1942 book.

2 slices wholewheat bread
2 oz. stoned dates

Toast the bread, and while still hot, slit in half. Spread each cut side with margarine. Chop up the dates and spread evenly over, then put the other half back on top, so that the sandwich has the two toasted sides outwards. May be put in the oven to keep hot if liked. Delicious also with cheese or other sweet or savoury fillings.


Date Pudding

½ cup cooking fat
1 cup wholewheat flour
6ozs chopped stoned dates
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
Lemon juice substitute
1 cup stale breadcrumbs

Rub fat into flour, when well blended add milk, lemon, breadcrumbs, sugar, and chopped stoned dates. Add soda dissolved in a little warm water and mix well. Put into
greased basin and steam for two or three hours.


Dried Fruit and Potato Tart

Christmas Recipes from 1942

Another unusual potato based recipe.

6ozs wholewheat flour (self-raising)
3ozs cooking fat
1 teaspoon almond essence
4ozs raisins or dates soaked for 4 hrs in 2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons mashed potato
1 large dessertspoon honey
1 egg (made-up dried egg)

Rub fat into flour, add water and make a stiff paste.
Line a flan tin with paste, and pinch up edges to make a

Drain raisins and spread over bottom of tart. Mix any
raisin juice with slightly warmed honey and almond
essence. Add potato and work in. Beat up egg and mix
into potato paste. Spread thinly and evenly over the
raisins. Decorate with thin strips of pastry and bake in
fairly quick oven until pastry is cooked and paste slightly

Serve hot or cold.


1942 Wartime Christmas Pudding

This recipe comes from a 1942 cookery book. The pudding is bulked out by the use of grated carrot, which should keep it moist.

1lb. wholewheat flour
4os sultanas
1lb brown breadcrumbs
Little nutmeg
4ozs butter
1 teaspoon lemon substitute*
½lb sugar
3 made-up eggs
I teaspoon spice
4ozs grated raw carrots
6ozs currants or chopped dates
3ozs mixed peel or stoned and chopped prunes

* Lemon substitute? Citrus fruit was in very short supply during the war and immediately after. What was imported was distributed to hospitals etc. White vinegar was used where small amounts are called for in a recipe or you could use a small amount of citric acid dissolved in some water.

Grate butter into flour, clean currants and pick over all fruit. Chop peel, put all dry ingredients and carrots into mixing bowl. Mix well, add well-beaten eggs and enough milk to moisten the whole. Put into well-greased basins, and cover with a cheesecloth tied around the rim.

Steam for eight or nine hours.


1942 Wartime Christmas Cake

Christmas is almost here and nows the time to make the traditional Christmas Cake. Christmas in 1942 was very different from present the recipe below demonstrates. So put your headscarf on and pop down to International  Stores and join the queue to get the ingredients for this festive cake. Don’t forget your coupon book!

On this day in 1942: In violation of a 1940 armistice, Germany invades Vichy France, following French Admiral François Darlan’s agreement to an armistice with the Allies in North Africa.


  • 10oz wholewheat flour
  • 2oz seedless raisins or sultanas
  • 4oz chopped seeded raisins or dates
  • 4 oz cooking fat
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 2 large tablespoons black treacle
  • teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (level
  • cup milk
  • teaspoon almond essence
  • teaspoon ground ginger


Rub fat into flour, add all dry ingredients except soda, and mix well. Dissolve soda in milk, add treacle to dry ingredients, and then milk and soda and almond essence, and beat all together very thoroughly. Line a baking tin with greased paper, place mixture in and cook in very slow oven for 2-½ hours.