Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Return of War Cake: or, I swear I don't hate vegan desserts

We at A Book of Cookrye recently featured a dreadful attempt at veganism. The internet told us replacing eggs with Diet Coke in a cake recipe would work. We would feel deceived, but is it really deception when you figured this would end badly and just wanted to see what special brand of wrong would come out of the oven? Well, anyway, as an apology to vegans, we would like to bring out this recipe again. See, we do have vegan cake recipes we make voluntarily!

See? It's actually a real cake!

War Cake
2 c. brown sugar (light or dark will work, though I prefer dark)
2 c. water
2 tsp. shortening
¾ c. raisins (or the dried fruit of your choice)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
3 c. flour

Put everything but the baking soda and the flour in a large saucepan. Put over high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until it boils for 5 minutes, starting the timer when it comes to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and let cool completely*.
When the syrup has cooled, heat the oven to 350° and grease a loaf pan.
Dissolve the baking soda in 2 tsp. hot water (if you have one, a shotglass works well) and stir it into the pot. Then mix in the flour.
Pour into the pan and bake for 1 hour or until a knife, piece of spaghetti, or whatever you have on hand comes out clean.

*If you don't cool it all the way to room temperature, the flour will clump up when you try to stir it in and the cake will taste funny when you bake it. You can put the pot in the refrigerator if you want cake that day, or you can just put a lid on to keep things from landing in it and leave it out overnight. 
The first time I made this, I started the oven when I started the cake and didn't realize it'd take all day for the pot to come down from boiling to room temp. Ever since, I turn on the oven a few minutes before I stir the flour in.

We at A Book of Cookrye are also making this with a special twist: instead of raisins, we're using these!
Take a good long look at the name-brand stuff.

Yes indeed, the people who run one of the summer camps held on campus were giving away lunches. By "giving away," we mean they left the table unattended. We took two of them. While we appreciate the attempt to keep children healthy, we think anyone who thinks they can get away with giving them an apple, an orange, raisins, and some baby carrots (guess what that means!) better have some cookies on hand. Seriously, houses get egged on Halloween for this kind of treatment.
This will become a cake. I don't know how it will, but trust me on this one.

This recipe always mystified me. I have no idea how you can start with a water syrup and end up with a cake. Also, how the heck does it work when it's only got two tiny teaspoons of shortening?
I've often wondered who worked this out. However did someone come up with this idea? Was it some home economists coming up with ration-friendly recipes willing to try anything? Someone at home who really liked dessert and wasn't about to let wartime shortages bring that to an end? Was this recipe made from nothing or loosely based on one that had already existed?
Whoever would have thought this would turn into a cake?

At any rate, this somehow actually becomes a seemingly normal cake batter, and ends up being a completely normal cake! Also, if you don't ever eat cake batter because eggs, you should make up for what you missed with this one. Behold how divoon this looks- you almost want to just turn off the oven and get a spoon. Or at least, I do.

And as you can see, unlike most of the carrot cakes and that dreadful other vegan cake, this is in fact a proper cake. It is not cake paste. When I was making this, a friend who's had it before got excited and said "Oooh, is that that vegan cake?" in the same way you'd say "Ooh, that burger comes with extra bacon?"

Anyway, this thing is lactose-free, vegan, low fat, and somehow it's still a cake. It's divoon.
Lifesaver cake. Better breakfast cake.

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