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Dorset Apple Cake

Mays VE Cake – Dorset Apple Cake

A Wartime Recipe from The Victorian Kitchen

VE Day 1945 was a time of national celebration; it was seen as a time of togetherness. So, it does seem rather ironic that 75 years on, the UK’s commemoration of this day has to encompass the current lockdown and social distancing measures!

However, through our modern technology and the interlinking of all our lives by the use of social media, we can still create a sense of the togetherness experienced all those years ago.

We can share with others our family memories and stories about the life and times that our parents, grandparents and great grandparents lived through.

But, as this comes from Mrs Bird’s Victorian Kitchen, let’s keep the focus of this firmly fixed on food; an essential element of any celebration.

What we would like to do is to create a series of ‘foodie’ memories from these times – the foods eaten, the meals shared, the highs and lows of wartime rationing, how birthdays and the special events of everyday life were celebrated . . . . In fact, anything food-related is what we want.

Send in your contributions to the museum website or use social media sites. We won’t limit you to just memories or stories. Send in any recipes from this time that perhaps have a special connection to you and your family.

So, how do you find out about the life and ‘foodie’ times of your family?

First of all search your own memory for things you’ve been told.

Talk to older family members, friends and neighbours as some will have lived through those days and the forthcoming VE Day commemoration will have reawakened many stories.

Dig out old recipe books, look for the splashed pages, they’ll be the recipes most often used.

Come on Nottingham! Let’s see if we can get 75 recipes, memories or stories posted to the museum.

We’ll read each one and then look at creating a special section on the website – perhaps someone can come up with an appropriate title for this ‘Collective Memory!’

To start the ball rolling, this is my contribution.

Sugar in Tea or Cake? You can’t have both!

This was the ultimatum issued by my mother to the family when rationing was introduced. It was a no brainer! The family obviously opted for cakes. No one had any idea of just how tough times we’re going to get on the food front in future years when this decision was made!

And now for a recipe. Mother made this throughout the war whenever there was a special family event. She obviously had to save up some of the ingredients to be able to make it. She also made it for any street parties or other communal celebrations and the recipe lives on as I still make it today!

Dorset Apple CakeDorset Apple Cake

8oz (250g) grated cooking apples

4oz (125g) granulated sugar

8oz (250g) self-raising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4oz (125g) block margarine (butter for modern times)

  1. Mix the grated apple and the sugar together in a bowl and leave to allow the juice to form for 30 minutes before making the cake
  2. Sieve dry ingredients together. Rub in the margarine, stir in the grated apple and sugar and all the juice which has formed
  3. Put mixture into a 2lb lined loaf tin, and level the top
  4. Bake at 180C, 170 fan, Gas Mark 4 for 3/4 – 1 hour. Allow to cool fully before removing from tin.

A few notes about this.

I know that any fat was scarce and so sometimes the amount used in the cake was less than the recipe states. A little margarine or butter was sometimes spread on the slices, but only after it was a few days old! Slices were, like many other things – rationed. One thin slice per person and no eating between meals!

This amount of grated apple is roughly one large cooking apple peeled (you don’t have to do this if the skin is thin) and cored.

A modern-day addition to this recipe is – before baking sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar. This would have been an extravagance and wasteful in wartime!

This is an eggless cake. Fresh eggs were very difficult to get during the war. When our farming relatives visited they would often bring a couple of fresh eggs as a little gift. But shhhh . . . . . don’t tell the Ministry of Food!

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