What did Australians eat during wartime? During World War II, when these recipes were being shared on radio, rationing and food shortages weren’t as bad in Australia as they were in Europe. It seems that even in wartime you need to eat cake.
All these recipes were part of the ABC’s Women’s World radio show. This first one was supplied by Mr Gorman of Brisbane. I’m sure that my grandmother’s pudding never had some of these ingredients… raw carrot in Christmas pudding?
War-and-Peace Christmas Pudding
Mix together on cup of flour, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, half a cup of suet, half a cup of mixed dried fruit, and if you like a teaspoonful of sweet mixed spice. Then add a cup of raw grated carrot, and finally a level teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in two tablespoonfuls of hot water. Mix all together, turn into a well-greased pudding bowl. The bowl should not be more than two-thirds full. Boil or steam for at least 2 hours.
This next recipe was supplied by Mrs Vanderwolf of Mount Larcom. No carrot in this one, but it does seem to be another fruit cake…
Wartime Birthday Cake
Cream together one small cup of butter and 1 cup of sugar. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, and beat well after adding each egg. Add 1 tablespoon of coffee essence, 2 cups of flour, to which has been added 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar and one teaspoon each of soda (bi-carb), ginger, cinnamon and spice. Add 1 lb mixed fruit. Bake in a moderate oven for 2 hours.
And this last recipe (also with fruit) was supplied by a Mrs Holmes, who sent in the additional information that this recipe used to be cooked in pint billies and sent to soldiers in the South African War. I guess she’s referring to the Boer war, but did they really send these from Australia?
2 lb flour
1/2 lb butter
3/4 lb moist sugar
1/2 oz mixed spice
1 lb stoned raisins
1 lb sultanas
1/4 candied peel
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs (well beaten)
1 pt milk in which 1 1/2 teaspoons carb. soda has been dissolved
3 tablespoons treacle
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, flour, fruit and baking powder. Add milk and mix well. Put in billies or bake in a large tin. Bake slowly as baking too quickly will dry up the cake.
You’ll have noticed that Mrs Holmes didn’t bother mentioning oven temperature or timing… obviously everyone knew this sort of information and you didn’t need to spell it out!
Source: NAA: BP257/1, 80/4