Eggless sponge pudding – Frugal War Rations Recipes Wednesday

Filed in Blog by on January 5, 2011 4 Comments
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Eggless sponge pudding

Eggless sponge pudding

Inspired by “Victory Cookbook” by Marguerite Patten and BBC’s “Turn Back Time” series, I’ve decided to cook one ‘rations’ recipe a week here at zero waste towers. It will be my ‘Frugal War Rations Recipes Wednesday” or #wrw if you’re a twitter peep.

What I love about this era which ran from 1940-1954, is the ‘waste not want not‘ attitude to food. Compare that to today’s ‘throw away a third of the food you buy’ mentality!

I can’t imagine for one moment that war time cooking was easy, but it was certainly frugal and good for the environment in terms of zero food waste.

Waste not want not

What I read over and over about the ‘war days’ were that although the food might have been monotonous, people were rarely hungry. This is because they knew how to make the most out of what they had. Not a scrap was wasted and “every cook in Britain behaved like a zealous squirrel – we bottled fruits; we salted beans; we prepared economical chutneys, pickles; we made the very best use of every available ingredient”.

Interestingly, the food eaten then is pretty much in keeping with the advice of nutritionists now – it incorporates lots of vegetables and home produced fruits, but little fat, sugar or meat.

Frugal cooking

While I’m not promising to knock up a sheeps head roll for tea and I may have trouble finding Snoek, I will be experimenting with some of the more ‘austere’ forms of baking such as eggless sponges and the amazingly named ‘whacky’ cake; so called because it contains no milk, butter or eggs! (Thanks Maisie for the heads up on that one!) and will no doubt be rustling up 101 recipes featuring corned beef.

To begin my journey through the times of rationing I’ve chosen an eggless sponge pudding. Note that due to food intolerances, I do need to play around with the ingredients a bit…


6 oz self-raising flour
2 oz margarine
1 1/2 oz sugar (we used fructose)
1 tbsp molasses (original recipe calls for golden syrup)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 dsp vinegar
Milk to mix


Sift the flour and rub in the margarine until fully incorporated.
Stir in the sugar and golden syrup.
Blend the bicarbonate of soda with the vinegar and add to the other ingredients with enough milk to make it sticky.
Put a tablespoon of jam or golden syrup into the bottom of a greased 1 litre pudding basin and add the sponge mix, leaving room for it to rise.
Cover with a plate or greased paper (I used the paper butter wrapper in true ‘use it up’ fashion) and steam for  1  1/2 hours until firm.

Zero waste verdict

Well this beauty was incredibly light for something containing no eggs and Mr and Little Miss Green loved it. This recipe is certainly going into the favourites category and is great for when you’ve run out of eggs.

The book suggests making a chocolate sponge by using 5 oz self raising flour with 1 oz cocoa powder instead of the 6oz self-raising flour and serving this sponge with jam or stewed fruit. It would be good with custard too (made with powdered milk of course!).

What about you – Any favourite war recipes for me to try?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (4)

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  1. Attila says:

    I’ll give this a go with gluten free flour (I don’t tolerate wheat very well) and I’d be VERY interested in the whacky cake; no fat would be great.

  2. Karin says:

    I need a recipe with double egg. 😉 We can’t use our eggs up at the same rate they are laid, but we do know plenty of people who are happy to have a box from time to time.

  3. Jean Swift says:

    I’m a ‘new’comer (I’m 70), though I’ve been hovering for some time. Thought you might like to try:


    2 eggs
    Weight of 2 eggs in sugar (ie about 4oz)
    Weight of 2 eggs in S.R. flour (ie ditto)

    Beat eggs and sugar together until pale and thick (in my grandma’s day that would be with a fork and would take about ten minutes; with an electric whisk it will take seconds)
    Fold in the sifted flour gently with a metal spoon
    Bake in a bottom-lined tin in a hot oven (my grandma’s was the fireside oven that also heated the water and most of the house) for about half an hour till done (ie. test with a knitting needle)

    If you’re not bothered about your weight you can cut it in half and slather it with jam, both sides, and butter cream (2oz softened butter or equivalent and as much icing sugar as you can beat in) . . .

    . . . and defeat the whole fat-free object!

    I hope you enjoy it.

    Jean Swift

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @Attila: Will be coming up next week! Let me know how the gluten free version turns out.

    @Karin: I bet you do! I would LOVE to be your neighbour as we use a lot of eggs.

    @Jean Swift: Jean, welcome to the site and thank you for taking time to leave a great comment. I’m going to use your recipe over the next fortnight and I’ll let you know how it turns out. We’re definitely from the jam and butter cream camp 😀

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