In my trusty The American Woman's Cook Book from 1938, there is even an entire section on Wartime Cookery. In that chapter, the book details why certain things were left out of recipes or from kitchens (or about to be left out in the future during imminent wartime):
- Metal shortages make it so products cannot be shipped or packaged in tins.
- Fats and oil rationing was so there would be enough for use in soaps and gunpowder.
- Manufacture and shipping of goods was disrupted due to shortages in manpower.
Every time I read a wartime recipe, I'm ever thankful I don't have to cook these recipes for my children for the reasons other mothers did during that time period.
Here is a version of a War Cake: Canada War Cake. This one comes from E. Haldeman-Julius' Little Blue Book No. 1179 "How to Make Desserts, Pies and Pastries." I like this one, as it gives a good explanation of the necessity of the baking soda to the molasses, and why baking powder may be better with certain molasses types.
Canada War Cake (Without Butter, Eggs or Milk)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/4 teaspoon clove
- 2 cups seeded raisins
- 1 teaspoon soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour
Mix sugar, shortening, water, raisins, and salt; boil five minutes; cool, and add spices, soda, and flour sifted together, beat well; pour into a greased, paper-lined pan, and bake in a slow oven one hour.
The amount of soda in these recipes is based upon the use of old-fashioned jug molasses; canned molasses varies greatly in acidity and, especially when freshly opened, requires little or no soda. If canned molasses is used, therefore, baking powder should wholly or partly take the place of soda.