A wee bit of wartime baking in Ballymena

We tend to think of the Second World War as a time of food rations and condensed milk but in Ballymena, Co. Antrim in 1940, they were having some fun with food.

During the Second World War, food rationing had a great impact on the meals prepared - mainly by women - across the United Kingdom. Inspired by the appearance of Northern Ireland's Rebecca Lightbody in this year's Great British Bake Off competition on Channel 4, we decided to look back at some wartime baking in her home town of Ballymena.

If you think wartime rations meant that people couldn’t have a little fun with their food, you would be mistaken. On 6th January 1940, the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph was full of interesting recipes including Banana Submarines and Tank Trifles, which no doubt proved popular with children around the table.

On your marks, get set, bake!

Banana Submarines

Bananas, 1 pint of lemon jelly, 1 small carton of cream, 1 small tin of pears or peaches, 1 tablespoon of castor sugar, Angelica.

Make the jelly and when cold but not set, pour it into a glass dish and leave aside to set. Remove the skin from the bananas, cut a thin slice lengthwise from each so that they will sit firmly on top of the jelly. Drain the syrup from the pears (or peaches), take a very small round cutter and stamp a round out of each half pear at the thick end.

These are to represent the conning towers of the submarines. Cut the required- number of pieces of angelica about 3.5 inches long and have them about the same thickness as a pencil. Push each piece of angelica right through the centre of the pear (or peach) into the banana.

Whip the cream, sweeten slightly, put into a piping bag and pipe little dots along each side of the bananas. Serve the remainder of the cream in a separate dish. These submarines could also be made on individual plates.

Tank Trifle

Sponge cakes, 2 eggs, 0.5 pint of milk, 0.25lb of sugar, 1 small carton of cream, 1 small tin of sliced peaches, Jam, Glacé cherries, 1 pint of orange jelly.

Cut the sponge cake into the required shape, the cuttings will do to fill up the centre of the trifle. Spread over each layer with jam, and place slices of peaches in between each layer. Place in a dish and pour over the syrup from the peaches, a little sherry can be added if liked.

Make a custard from the eggs, milk, and sugar. Pour over the trifle when slightly cold, leave aside to set. Whip the cream sweetened slightly, cover the cake with half of it. Colour the remainder with a little cochineal or a little melted chocolate to give it a pink or brown colour. Put into a piping bag and pipe around the trifle as shown in the photograph.

Place a cherry where the hub of the wheels would be, and for the gun use a piece of angelica. Chop up the orange jelly and decorate around the bottom of the trifle with it.

Surprise Cakes

Genoese pastry, 0.5lb of ground almonds, 0.5lb of castor sugar, Jam, Green colouring, Angelica.

Cut the Genoese pastry into the shape of apples and pears, cut each piece into half and spread with jam and put together again. Mix the ground almonds and sugar together to a stiff paste with a little water, add a few drops of green colouring to have it a pale shade.

Roll out the marzipan fairly thin, place a piece of cake on each round and work it round the pastry into the desired shape. Make a slight depression at the top of each. Cut the angelica into small pieces and put one or two pieces in each depression to represent the stalk.

Genoese Pastry

4oz of flour, 3oz of margarine or butter, 3oz of castor sugar, 4 eggs.

Put the eggs and sugar into a basin standing in hot water, and beat until light and foamy – it will take about 20 minutes. Melt the butter, add to the mixture. Fold in the sifted flour, pour into a greasy baking tin and bake for about 40 minutes in a moderate oven.

Please let us know if you try out any of these recipes. We’d love to hear from you and see the results.

And hopefully, only the submarines will have soggy bottoms.

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