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“Dufferinites” were foodies. Keep the tradition alive!

Feb 28

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2/28/2017 3:52 PM  RssIcon

The Sweet Side of Rationing

 Sure, it was 1918, the country was at war, the boys had left the farms to serve overseas and everyone was being told to “Economize”.  However, no one wanted to give up their sweets and baked goods if they didn’t have to, and everyone needs a treat now and then to keep their spirits up. Canadians loved their candies and carbs!  Rationing was in full force by 1918, especially white sugar, butter, lard and flour, so bakeries had to come up with some un-conventional candy and baked goods recipes.   The same rang true for the home cook.  Regular staples such as honey, maple syrup, and brown sugar stepped up to replace the preferred white sugar for fine baked goods such as cookies and cakes.  Confectioners were also busy trying to perfect recipes for candies using these less common staples. The less sugar the better!

 AR-2421 Ethel Allen’s ration book (1918)

Anything made with white flour became a treat. Every other kind of flour was used in recipes and without anyone realizing, the country had suddenly gone “gluten-free”. Flour from barley, oats, corn, rye and rice was used instead of white, or in some cases, even whole wheat. Bakeries were advertising for people to shop there and buy their baked goods instead of suffering with inferior bread flours.

Orangeville Banner 14 Feb 1918

Mary Elizabeth’s War Time Recipes, published in 1918, gives us some fabulous recipes for “simple but excellent recipes for wheatless cakes and breads, meatless dishes, sugar-less candies, delicious war time desserts, and many other delectable economy dishes.”  Of course the war-time version of sugar-less and today’s version of sugar-less don’t jive…it’s just not processed “white” sugar in the recipes. 

Of course, now that the spring thaw is arriving we are turning our heads to maple syrup.  It just seems natural that we should also turn our sweet tooth to maple flavoured candies.  The sap is flowing and it’s time to restock the larder with a seasonal staple.  Besides…who knows how long this war may continue so we’d better stock up as much as possible!

Here are two great recipes from the Dufferin Museum & Archives’ collection that fit the wartime bill.  They don’t use any rationed items and all of the ingredients can easily be found in your pantry.

Pecan Patties

The original recipe found in Mary Elizabeth’s War Time Recipes reads as such:

Cook one quart of maple syrup until the thermometer registers 249 degrees.  Add one-fourth pound of butter.  Remove from fire and stir in one and one-half cups of pecan meats.  Spoon out into oiled patty tins or muffin rings, and wrap each patty in oiled paper when cold.

We’ve adjusted it for a more modern kitchen.   You will need a good candy thermometer, at least two buttered (greased) muffin tins, but you could also use wax paper on a couple of baking or cookie sheets, a large sauce pan (this stuff will really bubble up!) a wooden spoon, and a ladle.

1 quart of REAL maple syrup

¼ of a pound of unsalted butter

1 ½ cups of pecans chopped or left whole, your choice

 Pour the maple syrup into a large pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat.  Once the mixture begins to boil reduce the heat to just high enough to maintain a boil without boiling over in the pot.  Insert your candy thermometer so it is immersed in the mixture but not touching the bottom of the pot.  Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 245F.  This is the hard candy stage.  You need to watch the temperature as the syrup will begin to thicken very quickly and the temperature can spike into the “sugar” stage very quickly.  Let the syrup boil for about 10-15 minutes at this temperature until it cools quickly and coats the back of the spoon thickly.  Turn off the heat and quickly mix in the butter followed by the pecans.  Pour the mixture in small spoons into greased muffin tins, just enough to make a thin patty, or by small spoonful onto waxed paper.  The mixture will flow so leave enough space between the puddles.  Do this quickly before it begins to harden. Allow to cool and enjoy!

P-1146EE  Sugaring off in the Melancthon bush


Honey Sponge Cake

3 eggs

¾ cup strained honey

3/8 cup potato flour (scant half cup)

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 level teaspoon of salt

Cream the yolks of the eggs and the honey together very, very thoroughly.  Beat the whites stiff and add to the above mixture.  Also add the salt.  Sift the flour and baking powder, and add. Bake at once in a deep tin, in a moderate oven (350F) for about forty minutes. 

This cake should be separated with forks.  Never cut sponge cake with a knife.

P-1636 Hives on George Rayfield’s farm

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