- 2 cup Brown Sugar
- ½ cup Raisins
- 2 tsp Shortening
- 2 cup water
- 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Ground Cloves
- 2 tsp Baking powder
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Salt
- 3 cup FlourAll-purpose
- ¼ cup Powdered sugarMixed with the ground cinnamon; 1 tsp (optional)
World War I Cake
The World War I Cake has interesting history. During that war, the British government released an official recipe for a cake that could be made at home and sent to the war battlefields to cheer up the soldiers. The cake recipe did not require any butter or eggs; those were in shortage during the hard years of the wartime. The cake had that homey-fruity-cinnamonn-y taste that reminded sons and brothers, who served on the front line, about their families, who patiently waited on their safe return home. Even after the WWI, the cake recipe did not lose its popularity. It was passed down from grandmothers to daughters to granddaughters.
I found the recipe in a little old 1960s church cookbook. I was looking for some eggless, no butter and no milk dessert recipe that I could make for a Lent church dinner. The recipe suggested baking the cake in a bundt cake mold, but I decided to bake a sheet cake.
At first I was a little skeptical that I could make something decent with so few ingredients, one of which was water. Well, I was wrong. Apparently, it is not a coincidence that the cake proved to stay popular for so many years. It is extremely simple and light, and it tastes like a coffee cake or a sweet raisin bread. It would be delicious if toasted and enjoyed with butter or the Apple Butter. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the sliced cake! Oh well, maybe next time. Meanwhile, try the recipe and see for yourself why it stayed popular for decades!
In a medium size saucepan, mix the sugar, water, cinnamon, cloves, salt, shortening and raisins. Boil over medium heat 5 minutes. Set the saucepan away from the stove and let the mixture cool off for 50 minutes or so. Place the saucepan in the the large mixing bowl filled with ice to cool the mixture off quickly.
Heat the oven up to 350F. Grease a baking dish (tube pan or sheet pan). Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda to the liquid mixture. Stir well. Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake for 1 hour in a tube pan or 30 minutes in a sheet pan. Do not open the oven for the first 20 minutes of baking. Check on the cake doneness with a knife or a toothpick (if it comes out clean, the cake is ready). Let the baked cake sit in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle the cake top with the powdered sugar mixed with the ground cinnamon, if desired.