Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Salvage Pudding

When I started getting into WWII and the rationing involved, one of the things I became utterly fascinated by was the difference in rations between the US and Britain.  Of course, Britain had it off much worse than we did over here, but things like "Meatless Monday" and recipes like this one that used up normal food waste to remake it into something different so that budgets could stretch and rations could stretch right along with it, were normal over here. 

One of the things rationed over here was sugar.  So, you'll notice that the original recipe here calls for corn syrup.  In the US, corn syrup became an invaluable replacement for sugar because...well we had the corn crops to make it!  Thus why you'll see marshmallows in so, so many 1940's era onward recipes.  Marshmallows were made with corn syrup, would keep a long time in the pantry and were versatile, so they became an American housewives secret weapon.  It was really easy to add marshmallows to say, a cup of otherwise bitter hot chocolate, and voila you had a sweetened drink.  Neat huh?

And now that I've "wowed" you with my little jaunt into food history (har) allow me to share with you one recipe (and there are many out in the world for things like this) for "Salvage Pudding".  This is a recipe that calls for cake and cookie crumbs to be used as replacement for part of your flour and believe me it does work well.  This isn't an American pudding (milk and starch custard basically), but actually refers to the British term "Pudding" which means a cake or dessert that is traditionally steamed in a mold.  This one, however, can be baked or steamed, so take your pick :).  And it comes out tasting like a mild gingerbread.  Works for me!!!
Salvage Pudding
  • 2 cups crumbs of vanilla or spice cookies, or cake (for this particular recipe I used a combo of cake crumbs from my birthday pound cake, some going stale Pepparkakor and some shortbread cookies that were also going stale on me)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (unsifted)
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup, or golden syrup, or maple syrup, or honey OR 1/2 cup sugar + 2 TBS water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup softened vegetable shortening or butter (or a mixture), melted
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional...I omit these as we don't like raisins in cake)
  • Vanilla ice cream, vanilla custard or whipped cream, optional (this is AWESOME with custard/pudding.  Just saying :)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 6 cup ring mold (if you have one.  I do not, so I used a 1 1/2 quart Pyrex casserole dish for this).  Combine crumbs and milk in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside for 10 minutes for the crumbs to absorb the milk.

2.  Add flour, corn syrup/sweetener of choice, egg, shortening/butter, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt to crumb mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Fold in raisins, if using.  Transfer to greased mold/dish.  Cover with greased aluminum foil.

3.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and the center springs back when gently pressed.  Remove foil and cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Invert onto a serving platter and serve warm with ice cream, custard or whipped cream if you choose.
Leftovers the next day are just as good if you reheat the cake in the microwave for 20 or so seconds. 

Also note:  If you wish you can steam this is in a covered 1 1/2 quart pudding mold for 2 to 2 1/2 hours instead of baking it.


  1. Thanks Erika - for the history and the recipe. : )

  2. How very interesting about the corn syrup! I wonder if that's why it's all over the place today, if after the war they realized that it was not only cheaper, but people had gotten used to using it.... and next time a particular family member goes on about how high fructose corn syrup was sent as a plague from the devil, I'll be able to say something other than sighing inwardly and politely noddin g.

    If you ever have time, I'd love to see a post on titles of your different WWII books you've learned so much from!

    1. The reason manufacturers started using high fructose corn syrup in products is because during WWI the government passed a bunch of taxes. One of which was on sugar. That hurt manufacturers but they put up with it.

      Well, during WWII the government upped those taxes, sugar was rationed and harder to get a hold of and suddenly the price on sugar went through the roof. Manufacturers scrambled to figure out how to stay in business, and high fructose corn syrup was born. Dirt cheap to put in products and one of the great bi-products of using it was it also acted as a preservative for products, thus leading the products to last longer on the shelf. The cost of sugar never went back down to the point where the manufacturers could use it cost effectively compared to high fructose corn syrup (because while the shortage of sugar did finally go away, the taxes never did). Even now, getting products with sugar in them compared to the HFCS is higher to offset the taxes attached to using sugar.

      Thus why you can only get sugar containing Coke, for instance, imported from Mexico right now. Coke, I'm sure, did the pros and cons of doing a "throw back" version with real sugar and decided it was cheaper to import it from Mexico where the taxes on sugar never got started.

      Some companies are more willing to go risky and use sugar, figuring it's enough in demand that the lesser shelf life and the higher price tag won't make a difference to people. Some others are being more cautious about it, and honestly I can't blame them.

      So, yeah when I start hearing how high fructose corn syrup was introduced to kill us all and yada yada, I tend to give people an earful anymore. Personally, being in my financial situation, I love cheaper food and need cheaper food. So I'm willing for my family to consume some corn syrup to feed them cheaper. I'll put more vegetables on their plates to make up for it ;).

    2. "the cost is higher to offset the price of using sugar in the products" is what I was trying to convey, with the help of a wonky keyboard at the end of the second paragraph there *laugh*.

      As for rationing books...that one gets kind of difficult as when it comes to American rationing books they are so few and actually pretty darned expensive since they are out of print now. I learned a lot reading through just vintage cook books that would have blurbs before the recipes about why they were made the way they were and such.

      One site that really does a good job showing what was rationed (I'm just linking to the food page) was this one...

      I learned a lot of the commercial end of rationing from reading different books about the 40's that just happened to have some blurbs about it in book and watching some documentaries on food (there's a Coca Cola documentary on Netflix that is really cool and explains a bit of what they went through during the war and such and how they survived). I'll try to dig through my library and see if there are certain books that are more highly recommended than others, though :).

  3. And now I wonder if that's how marshmallows got started in hot chocolate! Pretty interesting!

  4. Excellent history lesson, Erika. Even I didn't know about the corn syrup in the US, but it does explain a lot...and why some of the popular American recipes became so popular (Rice Krispie treats, marshmallows in hot chocolate, Sweet potato casseroles topped with marshmallows, etc.). Oooh, I just love history!

    Anyways, I also want to compliment you on finding such an interesting way to reuse that failed birthday pound cake. Way to go Erika! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  5. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing. And, the pudding looks delicious.

  6. Very interesting, indeed! Also, I really admire your positive attitude. It's hard enough having either an autistic child or money struggles, but you have both. We do what we have to do in life, but I just want to applaud your ingenuity, fortitude, creative problem-solving, and your ability to find the silver lining.

  7. This is great! I was looking for this recipe, and known I'd seen it before, but couldn't find it again. Thanks for posting this. I myself cooked one ration recipe a week for a whole year and learned a lot of great things about the cleverness and frugality of wartime Britain and America. You can see all my recipes here:
    I can't wait to try this cake. Thank you!