The 1940s One Egg Cake

Since early 2020, grocery store shelves haven’t been as well stocked. During the first COVID-19 lockdown, people were in short supply of toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels and antibacterial cleaning supplies. But this isn’t the first time the world has experienced shortages like this. In the 1970s, due to tensions in the Middle East and rising oil prices, there was a gas shortage throughout North America and other countries around the world. The era of rationing that people most remember though, is that during and after World War II.

In 1942, The Government of Canada rationed everyday grocery items and gasoline for civilians. This system of rationing managed with small coupon books distributed to families. By 1943, the Canadian Bankers Association had a system in place whereby shopkeepers deposited ration coupons into the banks that then issued cheques to the shopkeepers.

During the War, the government issued over 11 million ration books throughout the country. Families needed to keep these ration books very safe because if they were lost, it meant going without until they could replace it.

Even though the War had ended, rationing still continued while the world got back on its feet.

For Family Day 2021, the OM took to social media and encouraged our followers to spend some family time together in the kitchen. We shared a cake recipe which is heavily influenced by wartime rationing. The ingredients needed are all things that women would typically have had in their home, regardless of rationing. There are other recipes that are made with much less in terms of what is needed, a true mark of the creativity and ingenuity of the people during the time of rationing.

The recipe served as an advertisement for Swans Down cake flour and Calumet baking powder, but use whatever you have in your kitchen.


And here is the recipe, typed out:

One Egg Cake

This recipe appeared in the Toronto Daily Star, 19 Oct 1944, page 18, as an advertisement for Swans Down Cake Flour.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour (1:1 substitute with all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Calumet baking Powder
  • 1/3 cup butter or other shortening (2.5 ounces)
  • 1 cup sugar (8 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, unbeaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  • Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift together three times.
  • Cream butter, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and beat very thoroughly.
  • Add flour, alternately with milk, a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth.
  • Add vanilla. Bake in two greased 8-inch layer pans, in moderate oven (375°) for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Cover with Sugarless Chocolate Frosting—you’ll find the recipe on the Baker’s Choice package—or with your own favourite Chocolate Frosting.