Wartime food recipes from the 1940s have a special interest for me. They came out of a time of hardship, rationing and scarcity.
Looking back now at recipes from that era, you’re struck by the inventiveness, the spirit of making-do and the absolute refusal to waste anything.
And the rationing of eggs, milk and butter led to a lot of recipes with little or no dairy content, ideal for vegans, vegetarians, dairy-free and kosher-parev diets. The cake below is one of those. I found it in a collection of wartime recipes (the book is on Amazon) and I’ve updated it, veganised it and added a base.
When you take a slice, you’ll get the crunchy biscuit base, a taste of moist coconut and apples, a hint of cinnamon and a little sweetness from the jammy topping. This is now a really tasty, 21st century dessert!
- 6 apples (cooking apples preferably)
- 100g dessicated coconut
- 300ml milk (any plant milk eg soya, almond, oat)
- 4 tablespoons of light or dark brown sugar
- 150g of non-dairy margarine, divided into 100g and 50g
- 200g of digestive biscuits, finely broken and crushed
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons of raspberry or strawberry jam
- Soak the dessicated coconut in the milk for an hour. The milk should all be absorbed. You can do this the night before if you prefer, and just leave it in the fridge.
- Make the base for the cake by crushing the digestive biscuits into fine crumbs and melting 100g of margarine. Combine the two in a bowl, and press the mixture into the base of a cake tin or flan tin. Anything around 20-23cm will work fine. Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to set firm.
- While it’s setting, peel the apples, remove the core and cut them into slices or quarters. If you’ve got one of these cheap apple corers, it’ll save you lots of time.
- Once the base has set, spread it with one-third of the coconut mixture. Then add a layer of apple slices, dot with margarine and sprinkle with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of brown sugar.
- Repeat the layers with coconut, then apple, then margarine/cinnamon/sugar. You’ll have enough ingredients for a couple of layers. Make sure you finish with brown sugar so it can melt and go sticky and caramel-like in the oven.
- Cook for 50 minutes at 175º C until it looks like the picture below –
7. Take the cake out of the oven and leave it to cool and set firm for at least an hour, preferably two or three.
8. Put two tablespoons of jam in a pan with two tablespoons of water. Melt them together slowly to make a thick but pourable sauce. Drizzle it over the cake.
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