How to Make a Trench Cake (World War One)

How to Make a Trench Cake

The British government released the following recipe to teach the British public how to make a trench cake. The goal was to create a cake which could be sent to soldiers in the trenches from home. It became affectionately known as ‘Trench cake’ because of its dubious ability of not going bad over time. It had little fat and no eggs, so the resulting card was hard compared to modern day standards. But mothers, wives and girlfriends baked it with love, and for the soldiers on the front line it must have been a game changer. And, no, I don’t mean they could have used it as an alternative to cannon balls! Well, strictly speaking, they probably ‘could’ have. But they weren’t. Instead, they most likely brought a little bit of (albeit hard and tasteless) home to the rankness of the trenches.

Would we enjoy it in our twenty-first century comparative luxury? Well, vinegar and bicarb are used instead of egg with the ever hopelessful goal of getting a rise. Did we? Get a rise? Judge for yourself…

Authentic Trench Cake Recipe


  • 1/2 lb flour (about 2 cups)
  • 4 oz margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/4 pint of milk
  • 3 oz brown sugar
  • 3 oz cleaned currants
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • grated lemon rind

Method: How to Make a Trench Cake

Girls cooking in the kitchen

First, Abigail greased a cake tin. Next, she rubbed margarine into the flour in a bowl. 

Then, Abs added the dry ingredients and mixed well. Lastly, she added the baking soda dissolved in the vinegar and the milk and she beat well.

Once beaten, Abs poured the mixture into a greased cake tin and baked in a moderate oven for about two hours.

How to Make a Trench Cake

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