Remembrance Sunday Wartime Kitchen: Bacon Cakes, Baked Bean Tin Puddings & Sunday Tea

Remembrance Sunday Wartime Kitchen: Bacon Cakes, Baked Bean Tin Puddings & Sunday Tea

Remembrance Sunday Wartime Kitchen: Bacon Cakes, Baked Bean Tin Puddings & Sunday Tea

 Remembrance Sunday Wartime Kitchen:

Bacon Cakes, Baked Bean Tin Puddings & Sunday Tea

High Flight

(John Gillespie Magee, Jr.)

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr (9 June 1922 – 11 December 1941) was an American aviator and poet who died as a result of a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire during World War II. He was serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined before the United States officially entered the war. He is most famous for his poem “High Flight.”

Remembrance Sunday Wartime Kitchen: Bacon Cakes, Baked Bean Tin Puddings & Sunday Tea

Remembrance Sunday Wartime Kitchen: Bacon Cakes, Baked Bean Tin Puddings & Sunday Tea

I awoke on this sombre day to sparkling sunshine and a vivid blue sky – so many Remembrance Sundays in the past have been dark, drizzly and damp affairs that at first the beautiful autumn day seemed like an affront to the fallen, but slowly I realised that it was a lovely day to frame the act of remembrance and also embrace hope for the future. I watched the laying of  the poppy wreaths at The Cenotaph, as I always do, and I also observed the two-minute silence, again, as I always do, but I was shocked to see that the march past of veterans doesn’t dwindle with time, but remains the same size……as our brave, elderly WW2 veterans pass away, their places are taken by other men and women……it’s a potent symbol of continuing conflicts. When I started my Wartime Kitchen Ration Book Cooking a week ago, it was not just an exercise in thriftiness and the ability to make ends meet, it was my way of commemorating Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. And so, the week of wartime rations ends on this day of remembrance, and what have I learned over the last week? Many things actually, some that I will highlight in my post today…….

Spiced Mixed Fruit Roll in a Baked Beans Tin

Spiced Mixed Fruit Roll in a Baked Beans Tin

With Bonfire Night and Remembrance Sunday over, the next big event on my calendar is of course Christmas; and I wondered how it must have been during the war to celebrate Christmas, with the men away fighting and the rationing, and yet it appears that families who cold celebrate together, did do and with some amount of ingenuity when it came to food for the festive table.

Elizabeth Grice in The Telegraph last year, wrote an interesting article about wartime Christmas with quotes from Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall…….

…………”Grated potato mixed with flour and herbs and gently fried in pork dripping is not the obvious choice for a Christmas Day menu, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If potato floddies could pass as festive fare in food-rationed Britain, why shouldn’t they come into their own again in the new age of austerity? In a spirit of cautious inquiry, I seek out the champion of the forgotten floddie, Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, who has a vast knowledge of wartime cooking.

Seventy years ago, Britain was enduring its first Christmas under rationing. Almost everything that constituted traditional Christmas fare or made food appetising was either impossible to get or in short supply. Even if you lived in the country, Christmas dinner was likely to be old hen or half a shoulder of mutton, followed by wartime plum pudding with little fruit and a heavy ballast of breadcrumbs. Gravy browning would be added to plum puddings and Christmas cakes to disguise the paucity of fruit.

“The war made people very inventive,” says Jane. “They started saving their rations for Christmas fare long in advance. Dried fruits were hard to come by unless you were lucky enough to know someone serving in North Africa who could send parcels of raisins.

“There was a huge government advertising campaign to encourage people to eat potatoes and less bread – convoys of British merchant ships bringing wheat from America and Canada were very vulnerable to German U-boats.”

Her wartime hero is Lord Woolton, the charismatic businessman who took charge of feeding the nation in April 1940. As Minister of Food, his job was to oversee rationing. “Not a task likely to endear him to the public,” says Jane, “but he was universally regarded with affection. People called him Uncle Fred and would write to thank him for arranging extra milk for babies and nursing mothers. Sometimes they would send him photos of their babies, captioned: ‘One of Lord Woolton’s babies’, which he was not so fond of.

As a child, Jane spent most of the war on her grandparents’ farm in Wiltshire, so “got off lightly” as far as rationing was concerned, but the waste-not-want-not mantra was ingrained in her.

“I never leave a scrap of food on my plate, even now. If you didn’t finish, you were told to think of the poor starving children in Russia. Rations made food pretty dreary, but people were healthier at the end of the war than at the beginning. There were fewer diseases of malnutrition because everyone was treated fairly. People complained about the National Loaf, but it was fairly OK wholemeal bread and probably healthier than the white bread people were used to.”

The anti-waste campaign was legally enforced. Jane tells the story of Miss Mary O’Sullivan, from Barnet, who was fined £10 with two guineas’ costs for asking her maid to put stale crumbs out for the birds. “Since hearing her story, I have been conscience-stricken about wasting bread. Now, when the heel of a loaf is left over, I whiz it up in the blender and freeze the crumbs for a future gratin or apple charlotte.”

Jane was a teenager by the time rationing dribbled to its end in 1954. “Chicken was a special treat,” she recalls, “usually an old boiler, too old to lay eggs. My mother cooked rabbit more often than chicken. She made a lovely rabbit casserole and regarded it as a great triumph when my father thought it was chicken.”

While the potato floddies are sizzling contentedly on the Aga, we measure out the ingredients for Jane’s wartime plum pudding. “The recipe was passed on to me by a lady who died aged 101 the other day. It was given to her 85 years ago. There’s hardly any flour and no added sugar. The fruit provides the sweetness. It is quite appropriate for these austere times.”

In The Ministry of Food, the book she wrote to accompany the Imperial War Museum’s wartime food exhibition last year, Jane has a potential Christmas show-stopper – Mock Duck, a concoction of sausage meat, apples, onions and sage.
“In wartime, when there was very little meat in sausages, Mock Duck would have been almost a vegetarian dish,” says Jane. “Does it taste like duck? No. Does it look like duck? No. Calling it Mock Duck must have satisfied a craving for a pre-war treat.”

The combined adult weekly ration of butter (2oz), margarine (4oz) and cooking fat (2oz-4oz) was seldom adequate for a regular baking session and women would go to extreme lengths to supplement it – using the fat surrounding tinned ham or corned beef, even resorting to liquid paraffin (a strong laxative) or their children’s cod liver oil.

In the Fearnley-Whittingstall household, a Christmas favourite is wartime brandy snaps. Tiny dollops of the lemony, gingery mixture are spooned on to floured baking parchment and a few minutes later we are wrapping the warm, pliant lacework circles of sweetness round the handle of a wooden spoon. “We also fill them with fruit fool,” she says. “These are as popular today in our house as they were during the Second World War.“………

Christmas 1940

Christmas 1940

With Christmas in mind, I decided to veer away from a rigid wartime menu today and share my wartime Sunday High Tea with you…..we had porridge for breakfast as usual, and then a bowl of soup, Meat-Free Scotch Broth, for lunch time, but our last day of rations is going to be a very luxurious event as I have saved much of my rationed food for today. So, today’s Sunday High Tea Time table will comprise:

Day Seven: Remembrance Sunday High Tea: 

Jam Pennies – Bread and Jam sandwiches

Jam Pennies

Bacon and Potato Cakes with Fried Bread

Bacon and Potato Cakes


Tinned Salmon

Boiled eggs with Bread and Butter

Boiled Eggs

Spiced Mixed Fruit Pudding with custard

Spiced Fruit Roll

Pot of tea

Pot of Tea

 And here are my weekly rations and what I have left……. 

WW2 Rations 1940: Two Adults:

* Butter: Finished! used all 3 ozs (75g)!
* Bacon or ham: 150g (6oz) – used two rashers 
* Margarine: 4 1/2 ozs (120g) – used 1 oz (25g)
* Cooking fat/lard: 50g (2 oz) Used 30zs (75g)
Sugar: 13 1/2 ozs (415g) – used 1 oz (25g)
Meat: To the value of 2/4d – about 2lb (900g) – Used 8 ozs (225g)
* Milk: 1 3/4 pints (1050ml)) – used 2 pints (600ml)
Cheese: 6oz (150g)
Eggs: 2 fresh egg a week – NOT taking this ration up as I have my own chickens
* Tea: Finished! Used last 1 oz (25g)
* Jam: 900g (2lb) every two months. (4 ozs) left – Used last of jam
Dried eggs: 1 packet (12 eggs) every four weeks
Sweets & Chocolate: 700g (1lb 8oz) every four weeks

The Wartime Kitchen Logo

As you can see I have quite a lot of my rations left, and that reflects current tastes I think, such as low-fat and low sugar diets, as well as not much meat in my diet on a personal level. Plus, I am on a diet anyway and I am not eating sweets and chocolates at present. I finished all my tea and jam, and also my butter, as a special Sunday tea time treat, with the bread and jam sandwiches as well as with the bread and butter for the boiled eggs. I also used a lot of milk today with tea as well as making some custard to go with the steamed pudding.

Mixed Fruit Roll with Custard

Mixed Fruit Roll with Custard

What has become obvious as I have progressed through the week is JUST how little meat, eggs, sugar and fat you actually need in most recipes, and, just HOW small the ingredient amounts that are needed – most wartime recipes are for four people and would probably feed two people today, which is shocking.  I was also interested to see how the wartime housewife perked up her meals with the use if herbs and spices, with parsley and sage taking centre stage, as well as mustard and curry powder. It’s been humbling to live off rations for a week, and it also brought home how relevant these wartime menus are for today and the excesses and waste in food. I may try this again in the New Year for a longer period of time and also bring the points system in to play. I am sharing two recipes with you today, my delicious Spiced Mixed Fruit Roll made in a baked beans tin and Wartime Bacon and Potato Cakes…..and the other recipes that I have made throughout the week can be found here: Wartime Recipes. I am also sharing a few Wartime Christmas recipes by way of Ministry of Food leaflets too…..

Christmas Recipes leaflet - front

and the other side of the leaflet……

Christmas Recipes leaflet - back

I hope you have found my wartime kitchen and living off rations interesting, and a BIG thanks to my wartime buddies, Janice and Fiona too….that’s all for today, see you next week with some NEW GIVEAWAYS, NEW REVIEWS and some NEW RECIPES too! Karen

Spiced Fruit Roll

Spiced Mixed Fruit Roll in a Baked Bean Tin

Serves 4 to 6
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 2 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 2 hours, 35 minutes
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Region British
By author Karen S Burns-Booth
An old fashioned way to steam a pudding and a great way to recycle old baked bean tins; these spiced mixed fruit rolls are easy to slice to serve and are also lovely buttered like tea loaf when cold. This recipe is based on several WW2 ration book recipes that I found in various books, where no eggs and sugar are used. Makes two bake bean tin fruit rolls to serve 4 greedy people or 6 restrained diners!


  • 8 ozs (225g) flour
  • 4 ozs (100g) chopped suet (I used vegetable suet, but you can use grated frozen butter or margarine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons dried mixed fruit and peel
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup (warmed)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 clean 400g baked bean tins (greased)


An old fashioned way to steam a pudding and a great way to recycle old baked bean tins; these spiced mixed fruit rolls are easy to slice to serve and are also lovely buttered like tea loaf when cold. This recipe is based on several WW2 ration book recipes that I found in various books, where no eggs and sugar are used. Makes two bake bean tin fruit rolls to serve 4 greedy people or 6 restrained diners!


Step 1 Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, suet, dried fruit and mixed spice together in a bowl. Add the warmed golden syrup and the enough water to make a soft cake like consistancy.
Step 2 Spoon the mixture into the prepared baked bean tins, they must be well greased and a circle of baking paper at the bottom is a good idea for easy removal too. Fill to three-quarters full as the pudding expands during steaming.
Step 3 Place a greased margarine or butter paper on top of the tin and then cover with tinfoil and tie to secure the covers.
Step 4 Place the two tins into the top of a steamer, and steam for 2 1/2 hours. Make sure the water is topped up regularly.
Step 5 Remove the covers carefully, and with heat resistant oven gloves invert the tin/s on to a plate, the puddings should slide out with ease. Slice the pudding and serve with custard.

Spiced Fruit Roll in a Baked Beans Tin

Wartime Bacon and Potato Cakes

Serves 2 - 4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 15 minutes
Allergy Milk
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch, Main Dish, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Region British
From book The Victory Cookbook by Marguerite Patten
This was a good way of making 1 or 2 rashers of bacon go a long way. The bacon adds flavour to the potato cakes. The Ministry of Food advisers always stressed "cook extra potatoes to use in savoury and sweet dishes". The timings for this recipe depend on the potatoes being ready cooked. These make a perfect breakfast dish as well as a supper or high tea meal for the family when served with other things.


  • 2 bacon rashers
  • 12ozs (350g) cooked potatoes
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • bacon dripping or a little fat


This was a good way of making 1 or 2 rashers of bacon go a long way. The bacon adds flavour to the potato cakes. The Ministry of Food advisers always stressed "cook extra potatoes to use in savoury and sweet dishes". The timings for this recipe depend on the potatoes being ready cooked. These make a perfect breakfast dish as well as a supper or high tea meal for the family when served with other things.


Step 1 Fry the rashers of bacon until very crisp and then chop into small pieces.
Step 2 Mash the cooked potatoes and then add enough milk to make a fairly firm mixture with the bacon, parsley and seasoning.
Step 3 Form into 4 large or 8 small cakes. Lightly coat the cakes in the flour and then fry them in a little bacon fat remaining in the pan. If there is very little then melt a knob of cooking fat in the pan before adding the cakes.
Step 4 Serve with fried bread, halved tomatoes or tinned tomatoes for a hearty breakfast, tea time or supper dish.

Wartime Bacon and Potato Cakes

Wartime Christmas Pudding

Christmas Eve in an Air Raid Shelter WW2

Christmas Eve in an Air Raid Shelter WW2

Join Fiona and Janice in their Wartime Kitchens too:



  1. says

    I think this series is wonderful. I am especially moved this year as my oldest and dearest (well, long as he is in harm;s way) has joined the Army. Already found out that in a month he will be a Medic in Afghanistan. Thanks for the Remembrance Day reminders.



    That was so interesting to read! I dont think I would fare as well as you if I did it! I dont know how my grandma did it with 8 children! xoxo

    • says

      Thanks Danielle, it was easy for just one week, but how they managed for 15 years on rationing is another story! 8 children, that would be challenging! Karen

  3. Alice says

    Hi Karen,
    It was/ is always yes to the pud, even when the custard was super thin or thick like treackle.
    My gran made Jam rollie pollie, spottie dick, and treackle puddings. All of which as she would put it “will stick to your ribs” or into days jargon “a minute on the lips 10yrs on the hips” or in my world as a kid “afters first” and I will make this recipe. Thank You.
    My uncle had an allotment on Hampstead Heath by the childrens padling pool (that was bombed), one of the joys for us kids was to collect the horse manure that was deposited by the deliveryman i.e., coalman , milkman’s horses and then dump it on the allotment.
    Never have tomato’s tasted so good before or since.
    When the bombing become very bad we slept under the underground (trains above us)in Camden Town Station and prayed ones home was still standing next morning. Now Camden Town is a very popular market area.
    As a thought, we should all have this diet on a yearly basis to give Thanks and to remember all those that have given their life, in all the wars, all over the world, for their country, in the name of PEACE. They should never be forgotten. Support your veterans.

    • says

      Thanks so much Alice, for your sharing your fascinating memories, it’s so interesting to hear first hand from someone who was there; my dad lived just outside London in Feltham, and also remembers the horrors of the bombing and sleeping in air Raid shelters or even under the stairs! I will certainly do this again next year and I agree we must never forget. Karen

  4. says

    Karen, really enjoying this wartime collection. Being a baby boomer child there were quite a few of these recipies still being made in my grandmothers and mothers kitchen in London after the war had finished. My husband tells me a similar collection of recipes were also being made in Melbourne at the time, even though I don’t think the times were as severe. I even recognised the blue and white tea cosy – my grandmother knitted many of these in her time.
    Congrats of being named in the top 100 best food blogs – you must be thrilled.

    • says

      I am delighted to hear that you have enjoyed my Wartime Kitchen series Denise. I am also a baby boomer too, so like you, many of the recipes and cooking methods are very familiar to me, as my grandmother and mum used to make them or cook that way. I am the lucky owner of several of those tea cosies, in different colours, my late mother-in-law made some for me, and now she’s gone, I treasure them all and think if her every time I make a pot of tea.
      Thanks also for your warm congratulations about my surprise addition to the top 100 best food blogs…..I am thrilled! Karen

  5. Mark Whittaker says

    I must say, I really enjoy your blog, even if I did find it through comping, but as I tweeted you as while back, your wartime series has definitely been my favourite series. It is written so well and combines my twin passions of history and cooking, a perfect mix to hold my interest. I think the home front and the role played by women (and those others not fighting) in the war is such an important story (and perhaps a more accessible way of introducing future generations to the story of the war) .

    • says

      Thanks so much for your very kind comments Mark. It is VERY gratifying to read that you enjoyed my wartime series, and I agree with you about the importance of those on the home-front,they were the parts of the engine that kept us all together via food, farming, emergency services, munitions etc and were a vital role throughout the whole war. Karen

  6. Mark Whittaker says

    Loved this series, but further to my last post I actually tried a few of these recipes over Christmas, the baked bean tin cake was lovely (though it was eaten mostly with custard, a luxury I am sure that was not available in 44) and the potato and bacon cakes were a great boxing day breakfast ( also used left overs so was quite a handy way of using up some scraps )

  7. says

    I love the idea of reusing tins to cook in. We camp a lot and I will cook other things in them to save on washing up – but I’ve never considered it as something to do at home to make use of the shape! :D

  8. Dee Johnson says

    My Grandmother was a fantastic cook and baker. She would cook all the old favourites like spotted dick, rice pudding , jam rolypoly, toad in the hole and made a fab meat and potato pie with thick shortcrust pastry served with mushy peas. My Mum couldnt cook so it was great when we went there for tea. She made one of the best Sunday Dinners I have ever tasted in my life. I just wish i was half the cook she was. In them days everything had to be made from scratch. No packets or the nasty stuff that is put into food these days. I try to make as much as i can from scratch but with 6 in the house its pretty difficult. I will be trying these recipes to see if i can bring back some lovely memories from my childhood… thank you x

    • says

      Thanks for your interesting comments Dee, I do love to read all about other people’s food memories, especially about WW2 cooking too. I was taught how to make pastry when I was about 7 yrs old by my mum, and people always comment on how light, crisp and short it is – just an old-fashioned recipe, but still good! Karen

  9. Fiona Matters says

    I particularly like the look of the bake bean tin puddings! Although I’d probably cut myself – I find opened tins rather lethal.

  10. Fiona Matters says

    I actually read all of this post and it is absolutely fascinating. The more interested I become in cooking the more I find food history completely enthralling. I actually came to have a look at your bacon and potato cakes and I keep meaning to make those. I love the taste of bacon – but like you I’m pretty frugal about actually using meat.

    I think the way our tastes have changed over time as a nation is interesting. However the amount of processed food in most people’s diet is just scary! I have a secret hobby of trolley watching at the supermarket!

  11. Fiona Matters says

    I’m looking for something to steam this week and think I will try your bake bean tin puddings. I’ve got plastic tubs to use instead but otherwise pretty much the same idea. I’ll let you know how I get on! Shared on g+

  12. Fiona Matters says

    I made your steamed pudding! – I actually really liked it and so did the other half. We had it with angel delight – which is one of my little sins. It was a lot more savory than a modern pudding would be, as you could tell from the lack of sugar in the recipe – but was still lovely and yummy. Does need something sweet with it though. It was also a lot heavier than most modern desserts – which was also quite a nice change. Never had anything quite like it really and I really enjoyed it. I did use flora buttery rather than suet though – just couldn’t bring myself to do it!

  13. shelley jessup says

    I remember my nan talking about some of these foods, its good to see a picture so I can place it in my memory better.


  1. […] *** Many baking books and programmes would have you to believe that you need all manner of equipment for baking. Nothing is further from the truth. If you soften butter before baking bread or biscuits, you can get away with a wooden spoon or hand whisk the way generations have done before the advent of electric equipment. Use a cup or glass instead of pastry cutters to punch out biscuits. You can even use old tins (ones that are not coated with plastic) for steamed puddings (see Lavender & Lovage’s Spiced Mixed Fruit Roll). […]

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