Trench Cake

Not the most appealing of names for a cake I will admit!
I saw this recipe in this week’s Waitrose Weekend, and thought it looked worth a try, especially as I had all the ingredients.
It is part of an initiative spear-headed by Francis Quinn, of Great British Bake Off fame, encouraging bakers to recreate Tranch Cake to mark the centenary of the start of WW1.
It was apparently made during the Great War and sent to loved ones serving on the frontline-hence the name.

The recipe given was taken from Elizabeth Craig’s Economical Cookery Book. I have taken the liberty of providing the weights in metric as well as imperial, and also giving a few more details on the cooking-as you will see, the original recipe was a little vague by modern standards!

This is what you need:

  • 1/2lb (225g) flour
  • 4oz (110g) margarine (I used butter, as I had no marg)
  • 1 tsp vinegar (I just used normal malt vinegar, not sure if this was right..!)
  • 1/4 pint (140ml) milk
  • 3 oz (85g) brown sugar (I used light brown soft)
  • 3 oz (85g) cleaned currants (I didn’t bother cleaning them…)
  • 2 tsp cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (I guessed that this was bicarb?)
  • nutmeg (I used 1/2tsp ground nutmeg)
  • ginger (I used 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • grated lemon rind (I used the rind of a whole lemon)

This is what you do:

  • Grease a cake tin (the picture given showed a round cake, but the amount of mix wasn’t really big enough for my round tins, so I used a loaf tin)
  • Rub margarine into the flour in a basin (I used my KitchenAid and was berated by hubby for doing so-in his words “I’m not sure they would shave had Kitchen Aids in 1914”)
  • Add dry ingredients
  • Add the soda dissolved in the vinegar and milk
  • Beat well
  • Turn into the tin
  • Bake in a moderate oven (I did about 40-45mins at 180C)

Trench Cake1

It looks ok. And it smells pretty yummy!
We haven’t taste tested it yet, as it’s being saved for hubby to take when he goes to watch the cricket. I will let you know…


21 thoughts on “Trench Cake

  1. You don’t have to clean currants now but when I was a child( born 1947) all dried fruit had to be sorted and picked over, stalks removed etc. We are so lucky that now we just open a packet of dried fruit and use it! Likewise suet. Mum bought the real thing(ugh!) from the butcher’s and then grated it before using in suet puddings, Christmas pudding etc. Must try this recipe myself.

  2. Oooh yes! Picking over dried fruit was a definite pre Christmas thing. I can also remember candied peel being bough as huge chunks still with sugar on and the sugar being our sweets.

  3. You are right about the baking soda being bicarbonate of soda. Perhaps the term baking soda went out of fashion as it was easily confused with baking powder which should not be confused with bicarb. I think your husband is right about the kitchen aid – anyone over the age of 80 would say that mixing by hand always made a better cake (I think that there was also a touch of martydom in doing that ….)

  4. Presumably the vinegar is in there as an egg substitute. Could you taste that it was the malt variety at all? I have always used a less strong version when doing the sub, although that has been with sponge cakes, so a less robust flavour than a fruit one

    • Couldn’t taste the vinegar Lesley! Hadn’t thought that it might have been an egg substitute-how strange! What sort of vinegar have you used before?

  5. Would like to give this a try but will wait for Jen’s hubby’s report Re: malt vinegar. Interesting that vinegar is egg sub. How much vinegar per egg in recipe? Any rules as to when & when not to use. Thx

  6. Very tempted to make this tomorrow for my Patchwork Group meeting here on Thursday. Were you happy with the taste? How large was your loaf tin? The bottom of mine measures 19.5 cm x 9 cm. OK?

  7. I used my loaf tin. Baked it on Tuesday evening. When it was cold I wrapped it in foil and put into the bread bin. Sliced and buttered for my Patchwork group this morning. Absolutely delicious. It was moist and tasty, definitely a tea loaf though, rather than a cake. All the ladies (and my husband) voted it a hit! I shall be making it again. Discovered I hadn’t any ginger (remembered I had used it up a couple of weeks ago!) so substituted ground cinnamon which worked very well.

  8. Pingback: Top 10 Posts of 2014 | My Make Do and Mend Year

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