As reported here our big open day at The Met last month was a huge success! Visitors flocked through the doors to view the artwork and learn more about our Heritage Lottery Project: Bury Remembers the First World War.
Taking part was hugely enjoyable for Nic and I and our wonderful team of volunteers as we got the chance to ‘dress up’ and really feel part of the vibrant atmosphere. Another highlight of the day was sampling the mouth-watering cakes and biscuits baked by Delicious at The Fusiliers! There were four types of bakes on offer: Scotch shortbread; parkin; cherry cake and war cake.
All of the cakes derive from an original YMCA Bazaar cookery book printed in 1916 (currently on show in the Art Museum). This publication comprises of a number of recipes sent in from the local community during WW1 and one of the most popular bakes on the day was Miss Kitchener’s war cake – no surprise there as it was bursting with fruit and beautifully moist and crumbly in texture.
Miss Kitchener was headmistress of The Bury Grammar School for Girls during those years of war and certainly encouraged her pupils to do their bit for the soldiers fighting at the Front. An article published in The Radcliffe Times in October of 1914 reported that Miss Kitchener and her girls were ‘working for The Red Cross society’ and had produced ‘1,503 handkerchiefs, 257 pillow-slips, 44 pairs of cuffs or wristlets, one helmet, five body bands, three pairs of mittens, one green scarf and one pair of gloves’. It is quite probable that versions of the cake would have been included in the many parcels sent to the Front Line. No doubt Miss Kitchener’s cousin (Lord Kitchener – Secretary of State for War) would have approved of this level of support from the Home Front.
Always daunted by the huge amount of ingredients which make up a traditional Christmas Cake I’ve tended to avoid this particular ritual. However, over the weekend I decided to try out Miss Kitchener’s recipe for myself and see how the results measure up as a last-minute no-nonsense fruit cake for the festive season. The original recipe (shown above) was a bit on the vague side – especially for a novice baker like me! However, all went well and thanks to Miss Kitchener I am now the proud owner of an extremely delicious Christmas War Cake.
Notes on recipe: Miss Kitchener advises 2 hours in a moderate oven. I baked my cake in an electric fan oven at 140 C for 1 hour 30 minutes to achieve the results pictured above.