The Wartime Kitchen: Living of Rations with Ration Book Cooking – Day Two & Lord Woolton Pie

Dig for Victory

The Wartime Kitchen:

Living of Rations with Ration Book Cooking – Day Two

Lord Woolton Pie

The Wartime Kitchen: Living of Rations with Ration Book Cooking – Day Two and Lord Woolton Pie

Lord Woolton Pie

It’s day two in my Wartime Kitchen, and today I am turning my attention to vegetables, allotments and an enforced vegetarian diet. As you know from yesterday’s post, The Wartime Kitchen: Living of Rations with Ration Book Cooking – Day Onerations were weighed heavily against animal products such as meat, eggs and milk, as well as sugar, fats, tea and jam; the population was encouraged to “Dig for Victory” and turn their gardens into allotments. Flowers were frowned on and vegetables were in, it was a simple strategy on the home-front for self sufficiency, as well as a drive for the population to be healthier - the emphasis on working outside and also providing food for the table. Even the Royal Family turned part of the gardens at Buckingham Palace into allotments to grow their own vegetables. Whilst we are on the topic, the Royal Family also had the same rations as everyone else, and had ration books issued, a little known fact. The Dig for Victory campaign proved very successful and was the start of the urban desire to be able to “own” (albeit on long-term loan), a piece of land where you could grow your own produce and provide for the family table. Many of the London allotments that still exist owe their existence to the Dig for Victory scheme during WW2. 

Digging for Victory on Hampstead Heath

Digging for Victory on Hampstead Heath

The enforced vegetarian diet and lack of sugar, meat and fats made Britain a far healthier nation, maybe there is a lesson there for all of us in the 21st century, where portion sizes have become gargantuan and our diet is heavily dependent on fat, meat, sugar and processed food. One thing I have discovered already on day two of my ration book cooking, is that hearty and tasty meals can be made by bulking out the ingredients with vegetables, pulses and to some extent, bread. Which leads me rather nicely onto the most famous of wartime recipes, liked and loathed in equal measures, Lord Woolton Pie, or Woolton Pie as it was more commonly known as. The pie was an invention of Francis Latry, the Maitre Chef de Cuisine at the Savoy Hotel in London; it was one of a number of recipes commended to the British public by the Ministry of Food during the Second World War to enable a nutritional diet to be maintained despite shortages and rationing of many types of food, especially meat. The pie was then named after Lord Woolton, who became Minister of Food in 1940.

As I am trying to hang on to my cheese, meat, bacon and fat rations for a weekend of baking, as well as a special Sunday lunch, I decided to go vegetarian today and make a Woolton Pie, plus, there will be left-overs for supper, and as it is autumn, I have lots of root vegetables at my disposal, just as many WW2 housewives would have had in 1940 I imagine. Here is my menu for today, day two:

Daily Meal Plan for Tuesday 6th November:

Breakfast: Porridge made with half water and half powdered milk, and honey; two cups of tea with milk

WW2 Porridge

WW2 Porridge

Lunch: Woolton Pie with Potato Pastry and Savoy Cabbage

 Woolton Pie with Potato Pastry and Savoy Cabbage

Woolton Pie with Potato Pastry and Savoy Cabbage

Tea: Nettle and Watercress Soup with one slice of bread

Nettle and Watercress Soup with one slice of bread

Nettle and Watercress Soup with one slice of bread

Yes! I BURNT my pie a little bit, as you can see by the photos! It was because the pastry was made with wholemeal flour as well as cold mashed potato with VERY little fat in the pastry, but, it was a surprisingly tasty pie. The recipe I used for this version of Woolton Pie, was from the Victory Cookbook by Marguerite Patten.

Recipe for Lord Woolton Pie: 

(serves 4)

Woolton Pie

Woolton Pie

Ingredients:

1lb (450g) diced potatoes
1lb (450g) cauliflower – Not used as I didn’t have any
1lb (450g) diced carrots
1lb (450g) diced swede
3 spring onions
1 teaspoon vegetable extract
1 tablespoon oatmeal – I used 2 tablespoons
A little chopped parsley – I also added some fresh sage leaves

Method:

Cook everything together with just enough water to cover, stirring often to prevent it sticking to the pan. Let the mixture cool.
Spoon into a pie dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Cover with a crust of potatoes or wholemeal pastry. (I used wholemeal potato pastry – recipe below)
Bake in a moderate oven until golden brown.
Serve hot with gravy.

Woolton Pie

Woolton Pie

Recipe for Wartime Wholemeal Potato Pastry:

Wartime Wholemeal Potato Pastry

Wartime Wholemeal Potato Pastry

Ingredients:

2 ozs (50g) white vegetable fat
8 ozs (225g) wholemeal flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
8 ozs (225g) cooked cold mashed potato
1 tablespoon milk

Method:

Rub the fat into the flour, stir in the salt and work this mixture into the mashed potato, adding the milk a little at a time.

Knead on a floured board until the dough is smooth and fairly soft. Roll out the pastry and use according to recipe.

(Use as required. This pastry is normally baked at 200 °C / 400 °F / Gas 6.)

Wartime Wholemeal Potato Pastry

Wartime Wholemeal Potato Pastry

The pie was actually very tasty and we both enjoyed our lunch – I served the pie with steamed savoy cabbage and as we had had porridge for breakfast, there was no need for any pudding. The soup I made for tea was a classic foraged vegetable and herb soup – Nettle and Watercress Soup (the recipe will follow later in the week as I made this twice!) – foraging was a benefit for those who lived in the countryside, and many a tasty meal was made with foraged mushrooms, fruit or herbs. As you can see from my preparation photos of my pie filling below, I used LOTS of parsley and sage in my pie, and I think that the key to success in wartime cooking was seasoning, as not to make the meals on offer too bland, which according to my parents was the downside of the wartime diet. The pastry was delicious, but slightly over-cooked, but the addition of cold mashed potato meant I could use less fat, which of  course is rationed.

Filling for Lord Woolton Pie

Filling for Lord Woolton Pie

Filling for Lord Woolton Pie

Filling for Lord Woolton Pie

And now on to my rations, and what I have left for the week, as I made all my meals today with foraged herbs and vegetables  and used no meat, eggs or cheese, and only a little milk and fat, I have quite a healthy amount of rationed ingredients left – and I wonder if housewives during the war might had done the same thing, been very frugal at the beginning of the week and then blow the rations at the weekend? Although I suspect it was all about what you could buy on daily basis…….and how bad the queues were…….

WW2 Queues

WW2 Queues

WW2 Rations 1940: Two Adults

Butter: 3 3/4 ozs (90g) -
Bacon or ham: 200g (8oz)
Margarine: 6 1/2 ozs (160g)
* Cooking fat/lard: 200g (8oz) Used 20zs (50g) – 60zs (150g) left
Sugar: 14 1/2 ozs (440g)
Meat: To the value of 2/4d – about 2lb (900g)
* Milk: 5 1/2 pints (3300mls)Used 1/2 pint (300mls) – 5 pints (3000mls) left
Cheese: 8oz (200g)
Eggs: 2 fresh egg a week – NOT taking this ration up as I have my own chickens
* Tea: 3 1/2 ozs (85g)Used 1/2 oz (15g) – 30zs (70g) left
Jam: 900g (2lb) every two months. 120g (41/2 ozs) left
Dried eggs: 1 packet (12 eggs) every four weeks
Sweets & Chocolate: 700g (1lb 8oz) every four weeks

The Wartime Kitchen: Living of Rations with Ration Book Cooking

That’s it for today, I hope you have enjoyed my vegetarian wartime menu today, please check back tomorrow for day three, and my black market activities with EGGS! Karen

Do any members of your family have memories of allotments during the war? 

Comments

    • Karen says

      I am finding it very easy too Janice, mainly because I am not a big meat eater anyway, and use little fat and sugar on a daily basis too! Karen

  1. Mel says

    This looks like a really lovely version of Woolton Pie.

    The only other time that I have eaten “Woolton Pie” was in a very, very worthy vegan deli where they had mashed potato in a wholemeal pastry. And that was it. Not a herb, vegetable or any kind of lquid in sight. Unsurprisingly that deli went out of business about 7 years ago. It was a very poor representation of what vegan food can be.

    I am so happy to see that it is a wholesome meal with a natural “gravy”, and interesting vegetables, this version makes me want to give it a go again. Thanks Karen

    • Karen says

      Thanks so much Mel, I am so pleased that you like the recipe – for me, it was a perfectly lovely and tasty meal, and the oatmeal thickens the vegetable water to make a natural gravy. What a shame you had such a bad experience with Woolton Pie in a deli….but, as you can see, it is a tasty and hearty veggie meal! Karen

    • Karen says

      Thanks Sharon! I know the website and it is great, but I wanted to try to post new recipes from old cookbooks I have….it is a GREAT site she has there though! Karen

  2. Alison says

    I am finding this series fascinating. I remember my parents telling me how they kept pigs and chickens and had to grow lots of vegetables. The recipes look lovely

    • Karen says

      Thanks Alison, I am trying to cook with authentic WW2 recipes that come from the ministry of food leaflets as well as cookbooks of the time. It’s been fascinating researching the recipes too…..Karen

  3. Sarah says

    My daughter has just finished watching Wartime Farm and loved it. She’s agreed to try Woolton pie if I use your recipe – a small victory in the battle to get her to eat more vegetables, thank you Karen!

    • Karen says

      I loved the series too Sarah and was very kindly send the book from the publishes, which, I can recommend. I am so pleased that she likes the look of my recipe, I have plenty more to share over the next 5 days, as well as some pretty tasty breakfast and supper snacks. Must email you to arrange a meet up to I can give you your book too…..Karen

  4. kellie@foodtoglow says

    I loved all of the fascinating historical information in this post, as well as the intriguing recipe. I have to admit to having never heard of Lord Woolton, or his pie. Perhaps you can forgive me as I am American. Karen, as you know I am a big fan of a plant-centred diet, with mostly vegan and vegetarian recipes on my blog and in my kitchen, so I’m very pleased that you are highlighting how healthy it was for the war-time population. And cheap too! Even still I don’t think I could easily do a war-time diet knowing that everyone else is eating what they like, when they like. You are one committed woman :D

    • Karen says

      Thanks Kellie, no apologies needed, there will be lots if British people who won’t know what Woolton Pie is or where it originated from. I am really liking this WW2 diet with its oatmeal and veggies, it suits me just fine! Karen

  5. Fiona Matters says

    Wow this looks amazing. Love the idea of mashed potato pastry. Particularly as I ALWAYS make too much mash for some reason. I would probably have to put some meat in it though. I just like my meat.

  6. Maya Russell says

    We would be so much healthier if we had to grow our own vegetables and ate less meat. The pie looks very filling.

  7. Maya Russell says

    I just love all the pictures too. Just can’t think about using powdered milk for cooking (apart from in bread recipes) but people used it all the time.

  8. Lynne says

    What a fascinating project you’ve done here, congratulations. I stumbled on your website when I was searching for a recipe of a wartime cake my Mum used to make. Unfortunately when she died the recipe disappeared with her and I really wish I still had it. She called the cake Lord Woolton cake as it was a recipe given out by Lord Woolton during the war, I remember her telling me that it was short of an ingredient that was normally in cakes – could that be eggs, but as they we’re rationed this recipe was invented. It was a delicious fruit cake, but I’m afraid I was at the time more interested in eating it than baking it and now sadly it’s too late. Have you or anybody out there heard of Lord Woolton cake?

    • Karen Burns-Booth says

      Thanks so much for your kind words! I know of Lord Woolton Pie, but NOT a cake of his name, BUT I suspect this cake was what we all an egg-less vinegar cake, and the recipe is here:
      Vinegar Cake
      This fruit cake recipe is lighter and kss rich than those made with eggs because the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar act as raising agents. When cooked, the vinegar loses its acidity and provides just a hint of tartness. This cake is sometimes sliced and served with cheese.

      MAKES ABOUT 16 SLICES

      225 g (8 oz) butter
      450 g (1 lb) plain flour
      450 g (1 lb) mixed dried fruit
      225 g (8 oz) light soft brown sugar
      5 ml (1 tsp) bicarbonate of soda
      300 ml (1/2 pint) fresh milk
      45 ml (3 tbsp) malt vinegar

      1. Grease a deep 23 cm (9 inch) round cake tin.

      2. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then add the fruit and sugar. Sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda into the milk, then add the vinegar. This will froth up. While it is still foaming, add it to the dry ingredients and mix in well.

      3. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and bake at 200°C (400°F) mark 6 for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 170°C (325°F) mark 3 and bake for another 1 1/2 hours or until firm to the touch. If the top gets too brown, cover with paper. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

      Taken from: All British Food

      • Lynne says

        Thanks so much for your reply and suggestion. I don’t remember Mum putting vinegar in the cake, but I do remember she added spices, maybe she played around with the recipe a bit herself. I think you’re right, it must have been an egg-less cake after reading the rations allowed for 2 adults, and I know they didn’t have chickens. I’ll give it a go, and also The Lord Woolton pie, that potato pastry sounds great. Thanks again.

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