Monthly Archives: January 2019

Baking without…Milk: Coffee Spice Cake

The second recipe in the “Baking without…Milk” series is this delicious coffee cake. It’s from an article in the January 1945 issue of Woman’s Day magazine. I also have a 1941 recipe booklet called The Bread Basket that I’ve been wanting to use for a while. The booklet is full of bread recipes using Fleischmann’s Yeast. There are pastries, cakes, rolls, and a variety of other breads. I had my teenage daughter help me since she makes wonderful bread from scratch. We decided to add a cinnamon topping from The Bread Basket since it also doesn’t call for milk and would have been a recipe housewives in 1945 might have chosen to add themselves.


Coffee Spice Cake

1/2 c lard

1 c sugar

2 eggs, grade B

3 tbsp molasses

1/2 c cold strong coffee

2 c sifted cake flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ginger

Cream lard, add sugar and cream until fluffy, then beat in eggs one at a time and add molasses. Beat well. Add coffee alternately with mixed and sifted dry ingredients. Bake in greased 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan in a moderate oven (375°) for 40 minutes. You can also bake in two 8-inch layers for 25 minutes.

Cinnamon Topping

6 tbsp butter

3/4 c sugar

6 tbsp sifted flour

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

Cream the butter, add sugar gradually, mixing well. Add remaining ingredients and stir until mixed well and crumbly.


After having the past few cakes turn out dry, I was expecting the same from this coffee spice cake. I was very wrong. It was moist and delicious. The cinnamon topping disappeared into the cake while it baked and added a really nice cinnamon flavor. This is a great cake for a brunch or breakfast, and it would be perfect for an afternoon tea or coffee get together. Try adding some vanilla ice cream! The recipe does have coffee in it, but we mainly tasted the molasses and the cinnamon from the topping we added.  The cake is quick and easy to make and I heartily recommend it.

Here is another from this baking without milk series: Baking without…Milk: Orange Marmalade Cake

The “Baking without…” series begins here: Baking without…Eggs: Cocoa Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Baking without…Milk: Orange Marmalade Cake

Today I am revisiting the January 1945 issue of Woman’s Day to do some “Baking Without…Milk”. While fresh milk was never rationed in the United States, shortages and additions to rationing were always a possibility. Woman’s Day wanted to provide women with options when it came to baking for their families no matter what was in their pantry.

I recently blogged about another orange cake, the Pillsbury’s 75th Anniversary Cake. If you are interested in following the “Baking without…” series from the start, you can begin with Baking without…Eggs: Cocoa Cake with Chocolate Glaze.

Orange Marmalade Cake

1/4 c shortening

1 c sugar

2 eggs, grade B

3 tbsp marmalade

grated rind of one orange

2 1/2 c sifted cake flour

3/4 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

2/3 c water

1/2 tsp lemon extract

Cream the shortening then add the sugar gradually, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly. Add the marmalade and the grated orange rind. Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the water and lemon extract. Pour batter into two greased and floured 8-inch cake pans. Bake in a moderate oven, 350 °F for 40 minutes. Put the two layers together with frosting.

Note: 40 minutes would have been too long for this cake in my oven. The frosting used to put the cake together is a simple modern chocolate frosting recipe. It was the perfect compliment to the orange flavor of the cake.



The cake was a bit dry, but that’s not surprising when you look over the list of ingredients. It’s not terribly dry, but if you are a fan of moist cakes. this might not be for you. The orange flavor, though…

I mentioned in a previous post that I keep finding recipes for orange cakes, so I wasn’t really surprised when “Baking without…Milk” included this orange marmalade cake. I wondered why they seemed to be so popular, but after having two cakes this month flavored with orange rinds and marmalade, I am beginning to understand. The orange flavor is just right. It’s sweet but not overly so, and it goes well with so many different other flavors. The chocolate frosting with the orange was a great combo. One of my boys is about to turn 15 and he has now requested an orange cake for his birthday. Why isn’t orange cake a more popular option today? Is it where you live?

I’m going to continue “Baking without…Milk” over the next several days, then I have some other post ideas about life in the kitchen. Home front housewives had things other than cooking to do and I’d like to visit some of those topics.



Victory Lunch Box: Split Pea Soup

One of a home front housewife’s jobs was to pack lunches for her family. Her husband, if not at war, would need a lunch for work. Her children needed packed lunches for school. If she was part of the growing number of women working outside the home, she would need a lunch herself. Of course, packed lunches weren’t the only option Americans had for lunch, but they were a great way to save money, stretch food, and make sure every member of the family had a nutritious meal three times a day.

Many magazines and cookbooks included menus that provided leftovers to be used the following day in a lunch box. This soup could be part of an evening meal and then put in a small vacuum container the next day and tucked next to a sandwich or some fruit in a lunch box. This kind of soup was especially good for lunch boxes because it was hearty and filling. Add some bread and you had a meal that could get you through an afternoon at the factory or at school.


Split Pea Soup

1 lb split peas (you can also use Navy beans)

2 qt boiling water

ham hock or leftover pieces of ham

3-4 cloves

1 onion

1/2 bay leaf

a piece of red pepper pod

3 1/2 c irradiated evaporated milk

salt to taste

Pick over peas, wash, cover with cold water, and soak overnight. Drain, add the boiling water, ham, cloves, onion, bay leaf, and red paper. Bring to a boil. Cook slowly until the peas are tender. Add milk and salt to taste. Makes about 3 1/4 quarts.



I used red pepper flakes instead of the red pepper pod. I also only used about half of an onion. We all peppered our individual bowls of soup. I also made the soup one night and then reheated and put it in a small thermos the next day to see how it would be in a lunch box.

The first night the soup was delicious. It was thick and warm and made a filling meal with the addition of bread.  Having had a chance for the flavors to mingle overnight, the second-day soup in the thermos was even better. I added some homemade bread that my teenage daughter baked, and had a satisfying lunch. I think that adding some fruit, a sandwich or a dessert would help anyone get through their afternoon without a need for a snack.

This recipe comes from a 50-page booklet that was specifically written for housewives who needed ideas for packing and planning lunches. It’s from 1943 and is part of a series of “Hook-up” cookbooks. There is a hole in the middle of each page that allows the housewife to hang the booklet at eye level. This helps keep the booklet clean and makes it easier to read the recipe. The picture on the front of the booklet shows the soups packaged for lunch boxes in waxed paper cups.




Pillsbury’s 75th Anniversary Cake

My birthday was this week. What better way to celebrate than to bake a WWII era cake? I’ve had the Pillsbury’s Diamond Anniversary Recipes cookbook for a while and haven’t had a chance to make anything from it. This seemed like a good time to do so.

The Cookbook was published in celebration of Pillsbury’s 75th anniversary in 1944. It’s more of a large booklet than a cookbook, and it also contains little stories, poems, and anecdotes about the 1944 readers’ grandmothers and great-grandmothers. The recipes range from cakes to cookies to casseroles. I chose the cake that was specifically created for the cookbook, the Pillsbury’s 75th Anniversary Cake.

The lighting isn’t great in the pictures. I apologize for that. It was much later in the day than I had hoped it would be when I took them.


Pillsbury’s 75th Anniversary Cake

2 1/2 c Pillsbury’s Best Enriched Flour

4 1/2 tsp baking powder (or 3 tsp double acting)

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 c shortening

1 tbsp grated orange rind

1 1/2 c sugar

3 eggs

1 c milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together three times. Blend shortening and orange rind. Add sugar gradually, creaming until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Beat about one minute after each addition. Add dry ingredients alternately with combined milk and flavoring. Mix well after each addition. Beat well after last addition only. Turn into well-greased layer cake pans. Cool before frosting. Put layers together with Fluffy Orange Frosting.

Fluffy Orange Frosting

2 1/4 c sugar

7 tbsp water

3/8 tsp cream of tartar

3 egg whites

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp yellow food coloring

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp grated orange rind

Combine first four ingredients in the top of a double boiler. Beat slightly to mix ingredients. Place over rapidly boiling water, beat with rotary beater until mixture will hold a peak (about 7 minutes). Remove from boiling water and add salt and yellow food coloring. Add vanilla and orange rind. Beat until thick and cooled, or until frosting holds its shape.



This recipe just didn’t work very well. My cake was a bit dry, and the frosting was really sweet and a bit gritty from the sugar not dissolving. The good news is that these are things that can be fixed with a few tweaks. The flavor of the cake is actually really good. It has a mild orange flavor. My husband doesn’t like anything with orange rind in it and he agrees that this is a nice, sweet orange without the bitterness orange peel often adds. The frosting is also flavored similarly and could be amazing if adjusted to be less sweet and gritty.

While this wasn’t exactly a win in the kitchen, it gives me a new challenge to work on. The light orange flavor is definitely worth trying again.

The day I made this cake, I read a magazine article that included three more orange cake recipes. I find that interesting. Was orange cake popular in the 1940s? I’m definitely going to do some research on this, and I think we’ll try one or two more of those cake recipes, too.

First Monday Menu: Stuffed Hot Dogs and Gingerbread

Today’s menu comes from the March 24, 1944 issue of The Family Circle. In 1944, the magazine was still a weekly publication distributed at grocery stores across the United States. Each issue included lots of advertisements for products commonly found at the local supermarket, some short fiction, Hollywood news, and lots of recipes. I pulled a menu from this issue and made it last night.

The menu is from an article titled “Julia Lee Wright’s All-Through-The Day Meal Plans”. There are several to choose from, and they are divided into plans for housewives who “stay at home all day” and plans for women “who work and keep house”. The entire day’s meals are planned and several recipes are included. I chose one aimed at a woman who both worked and was a housewife. I wanted to see what WWII era time-saving meals were like.

Here is what Dinner called for:

Stuffed Hot Dogs

Potato Salad (made the night before)

Buttered String Beans

Pickles or Relish Plate of Raw Vegetables

Toast or Toasted French Bread

Hot Gingerbread (packaged mix or combine the ingredients the night before)

Stuffed Hot Dogs

1 1/2 c. dry bread crumbs

1 tbsp finely chopped onion

1/2 c. thinly sliced celery

1 tbsp melted shortening

1/4 c. milk

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1/8 tsp poultry seasoning

12 hot dogs

6 slices bacon

Combine bread crumbs, onion, celery, melted shortening, and milk in a small mixing bowl. Add seasonings and toss lightly to mix. Slit hot dogs lengthwise on one side and fill cavities with stuffing. Wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around each hot dog and fasten with toothpicks. Bake in a shallow pan at 425° for 20 minutes or until hot dogs are heated and bacon is crisp.


Mary Jane Gingerbread

The menu didn’t include a recipe for gingerbread, and our local grocery store doesn’t have packaged gingerbread mix, so I found a recipe in Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes. 

1/4 c. butter

1/2 c. sugar

1 beaten egg

1/4 c. molasses

1 c. sifted flour

pinch salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp clove, scant

1/4 tsp nutmeg, scant

1/2 c boiling water

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the beaten egg and molasses. Sift the flour with salt, baking soda, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Mix well. Add the boiling water and mix. Bake in a deep pan 30-40 minutes at 400°. Serve hot with whipped cream.

The recipe also includes notes that suggest cooking this batter in a waffle iron and then using two waffles and whipped cream to make a shortcake.



We followed the suggested menu. We had buttered green beans. toasted French bread, potato salad, and pickles.

The hot dogs are good but greasy. They remind me a bit of a Chicago dog. Be prepared for greasiness, though. I might make these again without the bacon, or make the bacon separately so there’s not so much grease. The stuffing is really tasty and makes hot dogs a little more interesting than just eating them on a bun with ketchup or mustard.

The gingerbread is the star of this menu. I love this recipe. The gingerbread is springy and spicy. We added some homemade whipped cream and served the gingerbread while it was still warm. It was perfect. The recipe is also quick and easy. You might have everything on hand to make it without making a trip to the store. This would be a pleasantly surprising after school snack or dessert.

The article states that working and managing a home means that you need meals that are quick to prepare while also remaining healthy and nutritious. Remember, the home front housewife was fighting a battle in her kitchen to keep American citizens healthy and able to do their part for the war effort. Quick didn’t mean she could slack on her war duty.

This menu is pretty fast to prepare. Stuffing and wrapping the hot dogs did take some time. The menu points out places where a housewife can prepare for tomorrow’s meal today. That adds extra work at night, but you can do it after the evening meal is over. That means that while you have a lot of work in the kitchen at night, a working housewife can still get dinner on the table at a reasonable time. I do want to note that the menu also calls for the morning’s meal to be partially prepared the night before, as well. That’s quite a bit of work before bed to prepare for tomorrow, but maybe it evens out over the week. If maintaining a specific meal time is important to a family, these menu plans will sure help that happen.

The pink bowls are 1956 Fire-King pink Swirl. They are pretty and delicate and offer a great way to showcase a delicious dessert.


Breakfast Cocoa

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is sit in front of a roaring fire and sip a cup of hot chocolate. I found a few cocoa recipes in my collection, and I thought I’d test one for you. I’m also including a couple of variations that you can try at home. Let me know if you do.

Breakfast Cocoa

This recipe comes from Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes. I have the 1941 edition. You can read more about this cookbook here.

Though not quite as quick as opening a package of hot cocoa and stirring it into milk or water, this recipe is an easy way to whip up a homemade batch of hot cocoa in a hurry. The recipe says it will serve six, but we found we needed to pour small servings. I’d double this if you have several people who would enjoy a mug of this breakfast cocoa.

3 tbsp cocoa

4 tbsp sugar

1/2 c. boiling water

1 1/2 c. boiling water

2 c. hot milk

dash of salt

Mix the cocoa, sugar, and 1/2 c. boiling water to make a smooth paste. Then add 1 1/2 c. boiling water and boil for 3 minutes. Add the salt and 2 c. hot milk. Beat with a Dover egg beater to prevent scum from forming. Serve.


This makes a smooth cocoa drink. It isn’t overly sweet, but it isn’t bitter either. I wish I had doubled the recipe because everyone wanted a second serving.

The first part of the recipe suggests that the consistancey should be more of a paste. Mine was a bit more runny than that, but it still worked well.

The recipe called for using a Dover egg beater to beat the cocoa mixture. I don’t have one so I mixed it well. I like recipes that suggest vintage or vintage-style tools to add to my collection. I try to keep the recipes as close as possible to the originals, but sometimes I need to modernize it a bit to include tools and gadgets that we are more likely to have on hand in today’s kitchens.

South American Chocolate

This is from the same cookbook as the above, but adds coffee to the mix.

7 oz bar Nestle’s Semi-sweet chocolate bar

1 c. strong hot coffee

6 c. scalded milk

Melt the chocolate bar over hot water. Add the coffee slowly. Boil 1 minute. Add to the scalded milk. Beat until thick froth forms on top and then leave it over the water for 10 minutes. You can serve it hot with whipped cream, sweetened and flavored, or you can pour it into tall glasses with ice to enjoy cold. Serves 8.

Hot Chocolate

This recipe is from the 1944 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cook Book. It’s interesting to note that this cookbook also includes a recipe for basic hot cocoa that mentions packaged ready-to-serve cocoa.

2 squares (2 oz) unsweetened chocolate, cut in pieces

1 c. water

speck salt

3 tbsp granulated sugar (1/2 c. corn syrup may be substituted)

3 c. bottled milk OR 1 1/2 c. evaporated milk and 1 1/2 c. water

Place the chocolate and the water in the top of a double boiler over the direct heat and cook while stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Add the salt and sugar. Boil 4 min., stirring constantly. Place over hot water, add milk gradually while stirring constantly, and heat. Beat with an egg beater until light and frothy, then serve. This recipe suggests serving with a marshmallow or whipped cream. Serves 6.

Happy New Year!