If there’s one thing I know its food rationing (see Monday’s post), which I realise makes me sound as if I lived through World War 2. My food studies degree, paired with a peculiar interest in 20th century history, meant I decided to choose the subject as my dissertation topic and spent most of my final year at university extolling the virtues of rationing. Somewhere along the way it drove me a bit mad; I began preserving food and making my own jam, cultivated an allotment at the top of my garden and started digging for victory, purchased a pair of overalls so I could play dress-up as a Land Girl, bought a Ministry of Food Wartime Cookery leaflet, read someone’s ration book. Eventually (I had known it was coming for a while) I began baking like I was on rations. It was with a manic smile that I had substituted margarine for potato in my steamed pudding and stirred the mixture, mumbling nonsense about Lord Woolton and air raids and the Kitchen Front.
The potato steamed pudding wasn’t a huge success and I quickly came back to my senses, loading up on as much sugar and butter as I wanted and thanking those good old boys for their 1945 victory. But for many, potato in puddings wasn’t an experiment- it was a Sunday treat. With some tweaking, the old wartime substitute can be worked into a pleasant- if perhaps unusual- modern recipe.
I realise chocolate, mashed potato, and cake are certainly not the most appealing combination of ingredients and perhaps it sounds a bit Mrs Cropley, but stick with me on this. We may not be on fat rations anymore, but this is still a fun recipe to try, and it’s a great way to use up that leftover bit of mash after the Sunday roast. You can also use frozen mash if you haven’t got time to cook some up. The potato gives the cakes a close texture similar to muffins, and it makes a nice alternative if you fancy something a bit different or if (like me) you’re having some sort of mini-breakdown and you can’t stop thinking it’s the 1940s. So bake mashed potato cupcakes and live like it’s 1943, but whatever you do, don’t mention the war.
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MAKES 12 cupcakes
PREP 15 mins
COOK 25 mins
▪ Will keep in an airtight container for three days
100g caster sugar
75g mashed potato
½ tsp vanilla extract
75g dark chocolate, melted
½ tsp baking powder
125g self-raising flour
80ml semi-skimmed milk
Glace icing and sweets to decorate
1 Preheat the oven to 190°c/375°f/Gas Mark 5. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
2 In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and a spoonful of flour, to stop the mixture from curdling.
3 Stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla essence. Break the potato up and add this, stirring well to make sure it is all incorporated.
4 Sieve in the flour and baking powder and pour in the milk, mixing with a large metal spoon until just combined.
5 Pour the batter into the paper cases until about two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the top is just springy to touch and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, decorate with glace icing and your choice of sweets. ▪