Monday, April 22, 2013

War Cake

For our All In challenge this month, in honor of tax day, we were supposed to make something budget-friendly.  Budget-friendly isn't usually my strong suit, so I was brainstorming ideas with the Fiancé, and he suggested war cake.  I hadn't heard of it before, but Wikipedia tells me "Depression cake is a type of cake that was commonly made during the Great Depression. The ingredients include little or no milk, sugar, butter or eggs, because they were then either expensive or hard to get. Similar cakes are known as "War Cake," as they avoided ingredients that were scarce or were being conserved for the use of soldiers."  Sounds like it should fit the budget-friendly bill!

We used the Fiancé's mother's recipe, and sure enough, there was no milk or eggs in the recipe, but it did include shortening and sugar.  Thankfully, sugar is cheap these days and isn't being rationed, so that's not an issue.  As for the shortening, well, I apparently wasn't entirely "with it" while baking and completely forgot to add the shortening.  The cake turned out alright--a bit chewier than I'm used to and probably a bit drier than it would have been with the shortening, but still tasty.  So, feel free to leave it out, if you want, but I'd bet money that it's better with shortening.

We chose to frost the cake with cream cheese frosting because I love cream cheese frosting and any excuse to make/eat it, but you could just dust it with powdered sugar to keep things a little more budget-friendly.  The spices are also adaptable to what you have on hand, so you don't have to go out and buy spices--you could easily leave out the cloves, or substitute both the cloves and the cinnamon with 2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice, or substitute some allspice, nutmeg, and/or ground ginger for one or both of the spices.  The rest of the ingredients are all relatively cheap, too, and this is a very simple cake to make, so it's a good one to keep in your back pocket for the next time you need an easy dessert.  As a bonus, it's vegan if you use vegetable shortening and skip the cream cheese frosting!  I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we did!

War Cake (recipe from Shirley)

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. water (if you're not trying to be so budget-friendly, sub 1/2 c. of the water with some spiced rum--yum!)
  • 1 lb raisins
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 3 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt

Combine the sugar, water, raisins, and shortening in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, and boil for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let the mixture cool a bit.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a big bowl.  Add the cooled raisin mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until just combined.  Pour into a greased 9x13" cake pan.  Bake at 350*F for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Due to all the sugar in this cake, the cake will get VERY dark--don't let the color throw you!  It's not burning, I promise!  It's supposed to look like that.  Dust the cake with powdered sugar, OR frost with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from my mom's recipe)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened (full-fat, please!)
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. powdered sugar

Cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla.  Whip in the powdered sugar until no lumps remain and frosting is fluffy.  Spread on cake, and fight over who gets to lick the bowl.  ;)

1 comment:

  1. I would have gone with the cream cheese frosting too - yum!