As I shared in the latest Assortment post, this Sunday was the premiere of "World on Fire" on PBS Masterpiece. I thought a war-time cake recipe would be a fitting dessert to pair with this WWII-era drama. My mom had long been saving a recipe for eggless, butterless, milkless cake, which I often teased her about, calling it the "batter-less cake" and "the cake made from nothing." :) But, as with so many things, Mom was right, and the cake was just the ticket for this occasion. In fact, I dare say it's my new favorite chocolate cake recipe.
Back during the war and rationing, women on the home front had to get mighty creative with the few ingredients they had. For example, banana bread wasn't as straightforward as the recipe we use today. Because bananas weren't available, bakers invented a substitute using parsnips, banana extract, and a pinch of sugar. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say!
Speaking of quick breads, this cake recipe works in quite a similar fashion; baking soda and powder act as the main raising agents. It can even develop that trademark crack of done-ness that we see in quick breads, which I think adds a nice rustic touch.
Though the recipe suggests dusting with powdered sugar, I chose to dust mine with cocoa. I like to be different, what can I say? It could also look smashing with a generous layer of whipped cream and chocolate curls on top. Also, because I wanted a round cake, I baked mine in a 9" round pan. There was leftover batter to fill a 6x9" baking dish as well, which makes for a good snacking cake. ;)
Here are some helpful resources if you would like to follow the series too...
I was certainly struck by the timeliness of this PBS series. The title "World on Fire" seems to reflect, in some way, what we're experiencing now with the virus. While it's not country pitted against country as it was in WWII, we instead face one common threat. We can pull through this just like any hardship of the past. Throughout history, the world has had to endure war, illness and countless other disasters. We just have to stay strong and not allow panic to get the best of us.
That's where baking comes in. I truly believe in the expression, "Bake the world a better place." When we feel overwhelmed by the news, one of the simplest things we can do is to make a sweet and comforting dessert to share with our family. Baking keeps our hands and minds busy. And right now, taking care of our emotional well being is just as important as maintaining our physical health.
To borrow the words of Edith Sitwell, this is "the time for good food and warmth... it is the time for home."
Thank you for stopping by,