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The War Cake was created to accommodate tougher times; this eggless, butterless, and milkless cake quickly became a wartime favourite. Recipes varied depending on what was available each day. To replace the lost richness, moisture, and flavour of dairy and eggs, raisins and spices were used to enrich the flavours. This cake wasn’t only eaten domestically; it was often shipped overseas to soldiers on the ground in care packages as a reminder of home.


2 1/2 cups raisins

2 cups lightly packed brown sugar

2 cups plus

2 tsp water, divided 3/4 cup shortening

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cardamom

2 tsp baking soda

3 cups all-purpose flour,

sifted pecans (optional), chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine raisins, sugar, 2 cups water, shortening, salt, and spices in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature.

3. In a separate small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 2 teaspoons of water and set aside.

4. Stir flour and pecans (if using) into the raisin mixture and beat until well incorporated. Stir in the dissolved baking soda mixture.

5. Pour into a greased cake pan or tube pan and bake for 45- 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes clean.

6. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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