Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Friend Who Bakes In Prison (World War 1 Cake Recipe)

 Last night I was bored,

How bored Klecko?

So bored I almost chose to read.

On my night stand are several piles of books, but most of them are poems.

I didn't want to read poems....I was "already" bored.

So I went into my "Russian" room, and dug through some boxes.

At the bottom was the complete works of Sherlock Holmes.

This book is big enough to choke a donkey.

Over 1300 pages.

Back in the day....how long ago was it?????

I read this book every night.

I remembered I was young back then.

I was poor back then.

I was happy back then.

As I rifled through the pages, old pieces of paper slid out.

One was a post card announcing the new Mormon Temple that was built in my city.

I remember how badly I wanted to see it, but Sue McGleno kinda freaked out.

She doesn't know any Mormons, so the whole deal tripped her out.

I've blogged about several times, the Church of the Latter Day Saints has saved, literally and figuratively saved my family on countless occasions.

I always will have a special place in heart for them.

Sticking up about 1/2 way in the book was a piece of paper, all dog eared.

When I unfolded it, I started to laugh.....

What it was, was a permission slip for me to send into a prison that had incarcerated a friend of mine I use to bake with, we called him Fat Richie.

Fat Richie got convicted as a 3 time loser for drug charges and was given 26 years.

I looked for a dated of issue, and it turns out that paper was given to me in 1996.

17 years ago.

Dude is still in prison.

Then I got bored thinking about reading so I got all A.D.D. and hopped on my computer....

Lo and behold, like a Genie in a Bottle......what were the odds?

On my facebook private message board was a buddy of mine who currently cooks/bakes in a prison.

Brah's name is Gary, and he sent me this interesting World War One cake recipe.

I was really honored to get to peek at this, it wasn't "just" a recipe.

It was a family recipe.

Anyways, I asked Gary if I could show it to you.

He said yes.

I also asked him to tell you a little something about himself.

He said yes.

3-2-1 and ACTION 

 Here is the recipe! It is called War Cake, or as my mother calls it, Poverty Bread. It was popular around World War I, and into the Depression as supplies were limited and does not use eggs, butter, or milk. My mother always baked it in a tube pan, but I have done it in a cake pan and it has turned out great!

War Cake

1 lb. raisins
2 cups boiling water
1 T baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup cold water
4 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cups walnuts, chopped (optional)

Simmer raisins, shortening, sugar and spices in the 2 cups boiling water for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into greased, 10 inch tube pan. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool for 5 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

-   END   -

 You sure can put it in your blog! My title is actually Corrections Cook, but I help out in the bakery as needed to cover for our baker and to help create new items for the menu. I loved the bakery classes that I had in college. By the time I had enrolled at SCTC in North Mankato, the baking program was long gone. Then, when I was interested in taking the Dunwoody program, it too, had closed.

I just made one of these cakes at work today to see if we could work it into the menu and it worked out very well! I would be happy to demo the cake for you at the booth! My mother always made this in a tube pan so we just usually ate it like a holiday bread, with butter. Either in a tube pan, or a cake pan, it works well when paired with sweetened whipped cream, like a you would serve a gingerbread. A really sweet icing or frosting would mess up the flavor profile too much.


  1. Thanks for the honor of having my grandmother's recipe printed in your blog! Sice I was trying to add a little bit more 'about me' while trying to corral the kiddos and missed geting to you in time, here goes!

    My name is Gary Thomas, Jr. I have been in the foodservice industry for over 18 years in all aspects, from fast food to fine dining. I graduated from South Central Technical College, North Mankato, in 1999, with an A.A.S. Degree in Hotel/Restaurant/Institutional Cooking and have been employed by the State of Minnesota for the past 11+ years as a Corrections Cook at the Minnesota Correctional Facility, Red Wing, the State's largest Correctional Facility for male juveniles.

    I have always had a passion for cooking and baking, a lot of which I credit to the influence of my mother, who is a fantastic cook and baker, my father who was an amazing baker and with whom I watched many hours of The Frugal Gourmet with him as a small child, and Don Brockett, who anyone over the age of 30 will remember as Chef Brockett from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Speaking of my father, he once lined our electric oven with bricks so he could bake directly on them, which worked well for a few months. He produced some of the finest sour dough and pita bread, which he used for amazing Italian grinders, that I have ever eaten, until he burned out the coils. Needless to say, my mother ended up with a new oven out of the whole ordeal!

    In my free time I love to spend time with my family; my wonderful wife Coleen and my two beautiful children, Bennett who is almost 5 and Amelia, who is 8 months old. I have also been an active member of the Freemasons since I was a senior at Owatonna High School , and I enjoy reading, writing and poetry. I also have a love of history and love to pair this with my culinary passion by researching different recipes and cooking techniques from eras past and doing my best to not make a mess of our kitchen.

    Thanks again, my friend!

  2. Pass On Fellowcraft, I don't think I told you Gary, but my grandson (due March) is Bennett Daniel. We are all excited.

    who would have ever thought that the prison baker was inspired by the culinary genius on Mr. Rodgers neighborhood?

    Life is crazy huh?