Eggless sponge gone wrong


A birthday party is never a proper birthday party without a cake! Unfortunately, I had just one egg to last me a whole week so I had to find a recipe that used NO eggs…Marguerite Patten came to the rescue (as always) and I found a suitable recipe to try so at least I could enjoy a 1940’s cake on Em’s birthday.

All went well and the cake smelled actually quite nice as it baked and I removed the tins and left them to cool when cooked. But then it came to removing the cakes from the tins and everything fell apart into a crumbly mound looking more like cous cous than a sweet delicious treat. It may have looked like a total disaster but the cake tasted really good and now being a modern day 1940’s cook with limited resources there was no way in hell I was going to throw it away… with no further delay here is the recipe

Eggless sponge gone wrong

  • 6 oz wholewheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2.5 oz margarine
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 1 level tablespoon of table syrup (or Lyons Golden Syrup)
  • 1/4 pint milk
  • sultanas optional
  • jam for filling optional


Sift the flour and the baking powder together

Cream the margarine, sugar and syrup together until soft and light

Add a little flour and then a little liquid

Continue to do this until until you have a smooth mixture.

Grease and flour two 7 inch sandwich tins and divide mixture between them

Cook in centre of over at 200 celcius for 20-30 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from tins

25 thoughts on “Eggless sponge gone wrong

  1. I think you would have had better result if you had put paper on the bottom of your pans. Then when ready to remove them all you have to do is put a knife around the cake and the cake will easily be removed . Enjoy….. M

    • The simplest thing to do if a cake collapes is to make it into something else, like truffles. Just mix in some syrup, condensed milk or jam (to suit the taste you prefer), roll onto small balls and coat with toasted coconot, grated chocolate, melted chocolate, or similar and turn them into simple truffles. No waste !

      The vinegar solution would work, as would sour milk, yogurt, buttermilk, etc – it’s the chemical reaction between the acid and bicarbonate of soda. If you replace 1/4 of the flour with breadcrumbs it also makes the finished mixture lighter in texture.

  2. I cant remember if it was allowed back then, but 1tbsp of vinegar can constitute as an egg 🙂 it wont have any impact on the flavour 🙂

    • That’s what my mother taught me 74 years ago and as I’m still on a tight budget, I substitute it for the 2nd egg in a cake.

  3. I agree – I sometimes make eggless chocolate cake (I have vegan friends) and I find they’re much more fragile than their eggy cousins, so baking parchment in the bottom of the tin is essential. I see from further down your recipe list that you got a better result later, so I’ll have a peek at that next. 🙂

    Really enjoying your blog, and it’s lovely to see real-life photos of the recipes in some of my rationing cookbooks!

  4. Vinegar isn’t exactly a replacement for egg. What happens is that the vinegar and baking powder, or bicarbonate of soda, react together and form carbon dioxide which gives the cake a lift. It makes it lighter.

  5. I make an eggless cake, but i use silicone bakeware to get it out, mine uses the dried fruit to hold it together, 500g dried fruit, 1 cup fruit juice, 1 cup flour – soak fruit in juice overnight, mix in flour, bake for about an hour at 180, keep an eye on it, cool completely then remove.

  6. I regularly make a fruit cake using vinegar and bicarb in place of eggs (I’m allergic to them) and have even won first place at show !! The fruit, fat, sugar and water are simmered for three minutes. When cooled vinegar bicarb ( Just mixed) is stirred in well then the flour and spices folded in. Baked at 160 degree centigrade for two – two and half hours. Bingo a cake that keeps for around ten days.

  7. Here is my newbie proof recipe for *brownies*

    My gran made it, the kids had to go out and collect walnuts, hazlenuts, oaks, acorn…the oak and acorns were soaked, ground, washed and pressed to remove the bitter substance. Soaking over night and the washing after, than the resluting meal could be used just like normal edible nuts..and than it was nut cake time around christmas.

    Take the same ammount nut meal and whole grain flour, a third of the combined weight put sugar to it, use the appropriate ammount of rasing agent and mix the dry ingredients.

    Cakes rise better when the sugar is powdered. Than cocoa powder (or malt powder for fake coffee and treacle/sugar beet syrup) can be added, cinnamon and other spices for a christmas cake.

    Take a big pan, lay it out with grease proof paper and grease the paper.

    Preheat the oven slightly lower than for *normal* cakes and mix up the dry ingredients with water(the nuts provide the proteins and fat that are normally in there when using dairy and eggs)

    The dough should not be runny like pancake batter or kneadable like bread dough, more sticky.

    Spread evenly in the baking pan and bake for 45 minutes, that also depends on how much dough was used.

    Test with a tooth pick or knock with the finger tips on the cake, it should sound a bit hollow. Undercook lightly if you like sticky cake. It shouldn´t be too dry and because of the nuts you will have a bit of sticky crumbs on the tooth pick even when baked through.

    Let the cake cool off a bit and put a broken up chocolat bar on top so it melts and spread it. Maybe with some shaved almonds?

    Greasing the paper keeps the cake from sticking, only get it out of the pan when cooled down, warm cake breaks and crumbles….but if you cut it carefully and serve it warm, straight out of the pan with melted chocolat on top…that is good, the best…maybe some vanilla sauce(or ice? ) also?

    You can also make cookies and cupcakes from the recipe with a bit of tweaking.

    I use

    400g almonds
    500g whole meal flour(the finer, the better and keep the brown skin on-full of antioxidants)
    300g sugar
    pinch o salt
    cinnamon, cocoa powder and so on
    double the ammount of baking powder than what is normally used.
    We have sachets where the acid compound and the raising agent are already mixed and react when the batter is made.

    Otherwise put the leaving agent in the dry base and the acid( apple vinegar) in the cold water and mix the batter.

    I have also added almond paste, chocolat drops and whatever else I fancied and had on hand.

    Bake 45 minutes at 170°Celsius

    Get the cake out of the pan warm…yes that works if you are carefully and put a wooden board on the pan, than turn it upside down fast.
    Better if the cake has not much room between pan and board so it doesn´t get jostled.

    When cake is upside down, pull up the pan and carefully peel the paper away. Warm cake is very sticky.

    If you made too much, cut the cake in pieces, dry them and dip them into chocolat for *ginger bread*

    Or wrap them in marzipan/dip in chocolat when fresh so you can have petit fours.

  8. I think it still would have turned out dry and crumbly even if you tried releasing them from the pans using Margaret’s suggestion. If it didn’t fall apart when you released it from the pan, it would have when you tried to ice it. Without eggs, you don’t have a strong binder to hold it all together. You need to find a substitute. Gelatine maybe? Not sure if that would have been available during the war, though.

  9. Look up the recipe for “wacky cake” uses no eggs, but vinegar and baking soda to rise. very good tasting and ecnomical

  10. The liquid from a can of beans/chickpeas (aquafaba) can be substituted with great results for an egg. 1 egg = 3 tablespoons. No waste 🙂

  11. I second acquafaba suggestion. You can use the unseasoned cooking water from dried beans, NOT soaking water. Plus, 1 Tbsp ground flax seed or chia seed (whole or ground) + 3 Tbsps water makes egg substitute. Adds nutrition too.

  12. Fruit Cake with no eggs or baking powder !

    Try this recipe from a book called “Bakes, Buns and Biscuits” (pub 1940) by Mabel Osborne for a fruit cake that does not use eggs or baking powder. She states that this cake is very close in texture, but not at all heavy.
    4 oz soft butter
    2 tbl treacle
    8 oz wholemeal flour
    2 oz Barbados sugar
    4 oz raisins, chopped
    4 oz mixed candied peel, shredded
    sour milk or buttermilk
    Warm the butter and treacle together then cool. Mix flour, sugar, raisins and peel. Mix altogether with enough milk to make fairly soft dough. Bake in a lined shallow baking tin at gas 4 for 1 hour then lower heat to gas 4 for 1 hour then lower to gas 2 for 30 minutes.

  13. Gingerbread cake with no eggs !

    Try this recipe from a book called “Bakes, Buns and Biscuits” (pub 1940) by Mabel Osborne for “Lakeland Gingerbread” tray bake cake that does not use eggs. She says that it has a crisp “crust” on top and should not be handled until cold. This keeps well in an air tight tin.

    1 lb wholemeal flour
    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    1 tsp cream of tartar
    1 dessertspoon of ground ginger
    pinch of salt
    3 oz finely chopped glace ginger
    1/2 lb butter
    1/2 lb Barbados sugar
    1 tbl treacle

    Sift the first 5 ingredients together then mix in the glace ginger. cream the butter and sugar together until very light then beat in the treacle.Combine the 2 mixtures [ this mixture is crumbly but DO NOT ADD ANY LIQUID ! Press the mixture into a lined baking tray (which is at least 1 1/2 ” deep) then prick the surface with a fork. Bake at gas 2 for 1 hour, remove from the oven and do not touch for at least 15 minutes. Cut into fingers or squares but leave in the tin until quite cold.

  14. Check out Crazy cakes they were very popular and I still make them. there is a chocolate version and a spice cake version. There is also a milkless eggless sugarless cake that used apple sauce. you can replace eggs with apple sauce in a spice cake if you take care with the liquid proportions. In crazy cake the baking soda reacts with vinegar any type you can mix it right in the cake pan and save on washing as many dishes. It makes a very good snack cake. If you didn’t have vinegar you could get the same result if your milk was starting to sour and you needed to use it up. It would work like buttermilk.

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