Week Three

Trench Cake

This week, we have been looking at a multiskilled task again. This time it is a cooking activity. Cooking is a great way to strengthen mathematical skills, reading skills and comprehension skills, all whilst having fun and with a potentially tasty treat at the end! 

Allow the children to weigh the ingredients, read the recipe and mix the ingredients more independently the older they are for the full learning experience. 

The recipe we have for you today is for ‘Trench Cake’. This was a practical treat that was created with available and long-life goods during World War One. They were made by families from a recipe issued by Government and then sent to the troops on the front line as a morale booster from their nearest and dearest. 

First of all, you will need: 

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


  1. Firstly, you will need to grease a medium sized cake tin.
  2. Next, get the flour and rub it into the flour in a mixing bowl.
  3. After that, Add the dry ingredients to the flour and butter mixture.
  4. Mix it together well.
  5. In a separate bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the vinegar and milk
  6. Add the soda mixture to the rest of the ingredients, mix it together well.
  7. You should be left with a brown, sticky mixture.
  8. Place the final mix into your greased baking tin.
  9. Cook at 160 degrees for about 2 hours. Cake is done when no residue is left on an instrument used to prick the centre of the cake.
  10. Finally, all that is left to do is to taste it! 

As this was a cake made at a time of rationing and with an emphasis on it lasting as long as possible, it is fair to say its probably not the tastiest of treats! However, with the background of the cake and having the experience of tasting it for themselves, this opens up opportunities for further questioning to cement the learning experience for older children e.g. Year 3 onwards.

You can ask follow-up questions such as:

  • How would you feel if you got this as a treat?
  • How do you think the soldiers, who had been away from home for so long, would feel getting some trench cake from back home?
  • Why do you think the government gave everybody the recipe?

This will get the children to think about the significance of such a simple cake and the difference it could have made to a person! 

I have tried this personally with great results, but as always would love to hear your feedback and or see your pictures!  

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Good luck, 

From the Education Team @ The Firing Line Museum 😊Anchor

p.s. any education specific questions or help please feel free to email us on education@cardiffcastlemuseum.org.uk