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Frugal cake graced tables in wartime

Jane Chatterton and Sandra Crawford asked for the recipes for butterless, eggless, milkless cake and war cake. The cakes are basically the same, according to the late Heloise Cruse. Doris Cooper shares a column that appeared in 1973 in which Heloise wrote that "boiled cake; poor man's, butterless, milkless, eggless; Hoover; Canadian; cowboy; missionary; Depression; lunch box; and Red Cross" are among the names given to this cake.

Whatever the name, readers have shared recipes and stories that have been handed down for years. The cakes are traditional birthday cakes in some homes and have even been sent overseas for special days. According to Heloise, "It's a heavy, dark cake, and the glorious thing about it is that you can mix it all in one pan."

Several readers sent the recipe created at General Mills that was printed in a 1943 Betty Crocker booklet titled, "Your Share: How to Prepare Appetizing, Healthy Meals With Foods Available Today." Lard seems to have been used in many recipes at the time, but any solid shortening can be substituted. Some ingredients were hard to come by, so cooks "made do" with what they could get.

Another butterless, eggless, milkless cake that was popular about that time was wacky cake, in which the dry ingredients were put in a pan, three holes were formed, and different ingredients were put into each hole. Mix it together and bake. A delicious cake results, and dishwashing is as simple as it gets.

Shirley Bailey sends a Canadian recipe for a similar cake that containes candied cherries and chopped walnuts. Because of the scarcity of eggs and butter during the war years, this fruit bread was used instead of regular fruit cake around the holidays.

For: Jane Chatterton of Clearwater and Sandra Crawford of Port Richey.

From: Brook Gideon of Tampa, Barbara Marino of Seminole, Dorothy Sieber of Homosassa, Joan Altvater of Venice, Carol Williams of Pinellas Park, Elena Zerfas of Clearwater, Judy Tolman of Palm Harbor, Doris Cooper and Helen Wald of St. Petersburg, and Barbara Pszyk and Elaine Watton of Spring Hill.

Recipe: War Cake, from "Heloise" by the late Heloise Cruse, a newspaper column that appeared on July 18, 1973.

War Cake

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups hot water

2 teaspoons lard (Heloise used vegetable shortening)

1 package raisins

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons hot water

In a saucepan, mix together the brown sugar, 2 cups hot water, shortening, raisins, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes after the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool.

When mixture is cold (this is important), add flour and baking soda that has been dissolved in a couple of teaspoonfuls of hot water. Mix well and bake in a greased tube pan at 350 to 375 degrees for about 1 hour, or until cake tests done.

From: Roslyn Byars of Clearwater, Mary Wells of Ocala, June Cullen of Palm Harbor, Marie Johnson of Bayonet Point, Lisa Boraski of Dunedin, Ethel Martin of Spring Hill, and Mary Lou Jones and Joy Nobles of St. Petersburg.

Recipe: War-Time Cake (eggless, milkless, butterless), from "Your Share: How to Prepare Appetizing, Healthful Meals With Foods Available Today," a Betty Crocker booklet prepared by the Nutrition Committee of General Mills Inc. in 1943.

War-Time Cake

1 cup brown sugar

1\ cups water

cup lard or other shortening

2 cups seeded raisins

{ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

{ teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons water

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, water, shortening, raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Boil for 3 minutes. Cool. Add salt and baking soda that has been dissolved in water. Blend in flour that has been mixed with baking powder. Pour into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan. Bake about 50 minutes at 325 degrees. Delicious uniced.

From: Jo Anne Falcigno of Spring Hill, Emma Holt of Inverness, Marian Truman of New Port Richey, Dolly Jackson of Clearwater and Dorothy Sieber of Homosassa.

Recipe: Wacky cake, an eggless, milkless, butterless cake.

Wacky Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons baking cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

} cup less 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups warm water

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar into a greased 9- by 13-inch pan (that's right; put it right into the greased pan, not in a bowl). With your finger or a spoon, make three holes in the dry ingredients. Into one hole, put the vanilla; in another hole, put the vinegar; and in the third hole, put the oil. Pour the warm water over the mixture and stir very thoroughly in the pan until all the flour mixture is moistened. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake tests done.

If you prefer a smaller cake, halve the ingredients and bake the cake in an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

From: Shirley Bailey of Largo.

Recipe: War Cake, from Good Times, a Canadian seniors magazine.

War Cake

1 pound raisins

2 cups white sugar

2{ cups water

2 tablespoons shortening

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

5 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

8 ounces candied cherries, chopped

8 ounces walnut pieces

Mix together raisins, sugar, water and shortening, and bring to a boil. Let cool to room temperature. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour into greased loaf pans and bake at 290 degrees for 2 hours or until done. Cool and wrap. Let ripen for a few days. Serve chilled with coffee.

Recipe requests

Ida Dotson of St. Petersburg had a recipe for a delicious lemon pudding that is cooked on top of the stove. The recipe was on a cornstarch box, and Ida has misplaced it. She hopes you have a copy to share.

Jacqueline Rae Edmonds of Pinellas Park remembers fondly the Spanish rice that her mother made in the 1950s. Rice and ground beef were among the ingredients, but she needs your help for the rest.

A "really moist" pound cake is the recipe Eleanor Shafanda of Spring Hill wants. Eleanor is partial to raisin and marble pound cakes, and she is sure you can supply these recipes.

Do you have a favorite bread pudding recipe to share? That is the recipe Juanita Sisco of Tampa would be grateful to have.

You Asked for It is a reader mail column. If you have a cooking question or the answer to someone else's question, write to: You Asked for It, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Be sure to include your full name, city and phone number with your letter. Letters without this information will be discarded. Requests cannot be answered by phone or mail.