Described by the Oregon Agricultural College Extension Service as a “war cake,” this recipe is a flashback to 1917 and then again to 2008 when it was discovered and recreated for the “Taste of the ‘Chives” Recipe Showcase.
Not remembering much about the 2008 version, I approached this first as a curiosity and then as a challenge to make something other than a dense “prune brick.” It would be my first time cooking with prunes or lard.
Eggless, Butterless, Milkless Cake
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons lard (or other shortening)
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 2 cups of raisins or dried prunes or dried apricots
- 4 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Cook everything together, except the flour and soda, for 5 minutes until it begins to bubble.
Cool mixture and then add flour and soda sifted together.
Bake in 2 loaves for 45 minutes at 350 degrees (this is not clarified in original recipe).
Best after standing a week.
(Featured in the Oregon Agricultural College Extension Service Boys’ and Girls’ Industrial Clubs Extension Bulletin 242, November 1917.)
What emerged from my oven (after only about 25 minutes) was dense, but also sweet and moist. Not brick like at all! The pairing of prunes and apricots worked well to keep everything solid and moist, while lending a tasty fruity texture to the cake. It has the feel of a more-filling cousin to Mom’s legendary banana bread. Autumn is a good time to warm up and rediscover this cake, which will give you an excuse to haul out all those holiday aromatics-cinnamon, brown sugar, and cloves.