The 1940s Christmas Cake Bake-off

Dear all, I’m out of the other side of finally getting the Coronavirus a couple of weeks ago and feeling much better. I had good intentions of starting my ration book Christmas recipes earlier than now but I felt so exhausted and poorly that all I could do was sleep lots and feel sorry for myself! BUT better late than never and this weekend it’s Christmas cake time!

I thought it might be fun to share our attempts at making traditional Christmas cakes using WW2 ration book recipes so I’ve enclosed some random photos of Christmas cakes I found plus clippings of WW2 recipes that might help!

I’ll be doing a vegan, eggless Christmas cake and making mock marzipan also and will likely decorate mine with some greenery from the garden, similar to the photos I found. I’m not sure whether to use regular icing sugar or not. It wasn’t really available during the times of rationing BUT we do know that in early years of rationing people still had supplies of icing sugar stashed away so that’s good enough for me. I REALLY want to do a snow scene with real icing sugar!!!

We will be sharing our Christmas cakes over on our Facebook group too HERE.

If you’d like to share a photo of what 1940s Christmas Cake recipe you’ve made please email me at and I’ll share it on my blog with a link to your blog or website if you like!

Much love, C xxx

I’m not so sure of the dates or country origins of the recipe clippings below but thought it would be nice to share them regardless!

4 thoughts on “The 1940s Christmas Cake Bake-off

  1. Morning Carolyn.
    A quick search for Swans Down shows that this is an American company. I did a quick read through the recipe to see if any of the words were spelled using Cambridge English (American) or Oxford English (England). I couldn’t find any.
    The weights and measures also seem a bit strange in the UK IE using cupfuls and 8oz instead of 1/2lb. I haven’t looked to deeply into the others at present.
    Will you be re-posting your paper snowflake decoration page again this year?
    Hope you are all feeling much better as we get into the Christmas spirit – Oooh! Bristol Cream Sherry for me please.

    • oooo I bought Croft Original this year, it’s either that or Harveys!!! I think there are a couple of North American recipes at the bottom of the page but I’m not sure, older recipes in the UK did use cups as measurements too and notice the spelling of coconut (cocoanut). Yes I’ll be making some paper decorations – snowflakes definitely! Have a great day Paul! I’m of to work now!

  2. I have made mock marzipan using semolina in the past.
    I was privileged to hear the late, great Marguerite Patten speak about Wartime Food when they first opened the underground Cabinet War Rooms. You would have LOVED it. These recipes bring back happy memories of that wonderful evening

  3. Hi Carolyn

    The country of origin question : The recipe using Swans Down Cake Flour (USA product) and using molasses is probably American, ditto the Dark Fruit Cake on the same page using citron which is a common ingredient in Jewish and Mediterranean cooking. The Ring Cake with sugar frosting uses citron uses citron too.

    On the spelling of cocoanut, I have a copy of Bakes, Buns & Biscuits by Mabel Osborne (UK, post war but under rationing) and that’s how they spell coconut in the book so it’s just a progression of spelling change through time.

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