Tuesday 2 March 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

eating for victory My visit to the IWM with Liz last weekend inspired me to get this book out and produce one of the cakes in it for Sunday Tea.

I opted for the Plain Date Cake.

We were not sure about what "Moderate oven" meant, and decided on 170°C. But I think this was too hot, as the cake rose rather a lot, and the top layer split away. It was also quite soft and crumbly.

But it did taste good!



8 oz plain flour

4tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

3oz margarine

3oz sugar

1tsp vanilla essence

4oz chopped dates

approx 5 fl oz milk and water

  1. Preheat oven [to about 160°C  - see note above!]
  2. Mix flour, bp and salt, rub in marg, add sugar
  3. Add vanilla, mix to dropping consistency with milk/water
  4. Stir in fruit
  5. Turn into greased/lined 6" round tin [or small loaf tin]
  6. Bake 45mins to 1 hour

But as I say, the cake tasted good, and was relatively economical to make [and no eggs, either!]

One question occurred to me - What's this dates business about ?

As a child, in the 50s and 60s, I don't recall my Mum ever buying dates for "cooking purposes". Dates were exotic things, only ever eaten at Christmas, in those 'glove box' packets

dates They always had the strange plastic 'twig' thingy for serving [never could work it, and had to use my fingers]

And when we had the "Eat Me" ones, I was quite nervous they had an "Alice in Wonderland" ingredient which would make me shrink!

alice Now remembering all that, how come there are so many recipes in my various WW2 books which list dates among the ingredients?

I always thought that dates came from hot countries and grew on palm trees  - and would therefore need to be brought to Britain on ships - so how come they were apparently so readily available for the WW2 cook?

It's a mystery to me!

M&s red bowls

Just a quick picture of my lovely new red melamine mixing bowls which were a Christmas gift from my S-I-L in Surrey. [M&S  of course]

And here is a picture of the red cake tin she gave me last year



Perhaps my next cake should be a cherry cake to continue the red theme?

[Can't find any WW2 cherry recipes - which is odd, as they do grow in England]


  1. I remember the excitement of seeing dates, as you say, only at Christmas. Things were treats in those days, and kept to the proper seasons. Now it's all 'hotcross buns at Christmas, Easter eggs in January....' no waiting for treats any more.

  2. Cooking dates, when you could get them, were sold in solid blocks, ractangular, about one and a half inches high by 4 inches. It was very difficult to get the individual dates out as they were squashed, and in bits anyway. And had to be washed in several waters. You should have seen the dirt that came out - wouldn't be allowed today!

  3. Thanks for that information Gilly!


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