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This ‘Depression Cake’ recipe should prove useful at a time when we’re all struggling to survive on so little … and it actually looks delicious!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

This Sunday will be my husband’s birthday. Each year, Brett looks forward to just one thing; a cake that his grandmother made him every year since he can remember. Even when he left home in 1982 to join the Navy, Grandma Johnson would bake this cake and ship it to where ever he was station. When she passed away in 1997, I pick up where she left off.

The cake that she would make was called an “Eggless, Butterless, Milkless Cake“. What it really is a Depression Era cake. Depression cakes, also known as “War Cakes” date back to World War I. The recipe  was in a pamphlet distributed by the United States Food Administration in 1918 entitled “War Economy in Food“. War Cakes are listed under “Recipes for Conservation Sweets.” The United States Food Administration stressed the importance of reducing sugar…

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Guinness Cake

© First Night Design.  Adaptation of White Roses, Chrysanthemums in a Vase, Peaches and Grapes on a Table with a White Tablecloth by Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) from Wikimedia.

I love food!  In whatever setting, whether on the sofa in front of the television, a picnic in the park, a family get-together or an informal dinner party (I’m not so devoted to the formal).  Combine good food with stimulating conversation and copious amounts of laughter and I’m in heaven.

I have an extremely sweet tooth.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I used to have a very sweet tooth but it has lessened the older I’ve become, to the relief of my waistline.  But give me Bread and Butter Pudding,  Tarte au Citron, homemade Banana Ice Cream, or Raspberry Trifle, and I’ll follow you anywhere!

It was a Twitter conversation about favourite cakes with Maree Gecks of Marzipants UK, and a shared love of Lemon Drizzle Cake, that inspired this post.  Thank you, Maree!

While I now find many cakes and pastries too stodgy and have never liked fruit cakes (too dry, for the most part), Guinness Cake touches my soul.  I can’t pretend it’s my recipe for it was given to me by the actress Mary Conlon when we were both training at drama school in the 1970s.  It is sublime.  And it doesn’t matter if you abhor stout (I loathe it myself) for you will still enjoy a slab or two or more of this exquisite concoction.  It also makes a great alternative to Christmas Cake (I tend to eat only the Royal Icing and marzipan on one of those!), iced or not.

MARY CONLON’S GUINNESS CAKE

1lb self-raising flour
1lb sultanas
½ pint of Guinness (or more!)
3 eggs
½ lb butter
½ lb brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice*

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the Guinness and sultanas until the latter are swollen with the stout. Allow to cool. Beat the eggs and sift in flour and mixed spice, and fold into the mixture.  Line a round/oblong tin with greaseproof paper (unless it’s non-stick) and spoon into mixture. Place in medium oven (l60¬∞C (325¬∞F) Gas Mark 3) for 2 hours until cake is cooked.  Test the centre with a knife and if it comes out clean it’s cooked.

Mixed spice is a British blend but is similar to the American Pumpkin Pie Spice.  According to Wikipedia, it typically contains Cinnamon (or cassia), Nutmeg, and Allspice, although Ginger and Cloves, among other spices, are often added.

  • Delicious if eaten warm with double cream, ice cream or brandy butter.
  • Needless to say, I always make double the measures and sprinkle the mixed spice in with abandon.

Enjoy!  Take care and keep laughing.

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