Normally our fridge is awash with eggs generously provided by our three chooks, Nightmare, Lola and Ninja. But with Lola and Ninja moulting and thus laying infrequently, the usual flood of eggs has become a trickle.
Rather than go out and buy eggs, which would be easy enough to do, I’ve decided to ride out the egg shortage and make do with what my lovely girls can provide.
The need to bake some lunchbox treats this afternoon found me scanning my wartime cookery books for egg-less recipe ideas. Wartime cookbooks are a great source of inspiration whenever you’re short of something because they’re all about making do with what you have. You can often find egg-free baking ideas because, at least in the UK, eggs were strictly rationed from early 1940 onwards.
I found the following wartime eggless chocolate sponge cake recipe in my edition of Jill Norman’s Eating for Victory*, a compilation of official Second World War instruction leaflets with titles like, “Making the Most of the Fat Ration” and “What’s left in the larder”. This recipe comes from Ministry of Food leaflet No.30, ‘Cakes, Biscuits and Scones without Eggs’.
Before I made this cake I was dubious that it could possibly turn out as light and airy as a sponge sandwich made with eggs beaten for several minutes, but I was pleasantly surprised.
As fresh cream and icing sugar were not readily available in wartime, I filled my cake with a layer of the plum jam I made in January and didn’t put any icing on top.
- ½ pound (225g) self-raising flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- 3 ounces (85g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- 12-14 tablespoons hot water (I used just under 1 cup/250ml boiling water)
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 85g margarine or lard (I used butter)
- Vanilla essence
- Preheat oven to moderately hot (I set mine at 180 degrees C fan-forced).
- Grease two 8 inch/20cm round cake tins.
- Sift flour, salt, cocoa and sugar together in a large bowl.
- Dissolve golden syrup in the boiling water and add the bicarbonate of soda.
- Melt lard/margarine/butter.
- Fold all ingredients together, including vanilla essence, but do not beat the mixture, which should be very soft.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for around 20 minutes. (My cakes were ready after 17 minutes).
- When cool use jam or a chocolate or cream filling between the two layers.
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