World War II Applesauce Muffins

I’ve been doing lots of research for my upcoming lecture at the Wright Museum of World War II History about cooking during the war. My talk will be in February, and I’ve promised to not only give an illustrated talk, but to bring samples of baked goods for people to try. Yikes, what have I gotten myself into?

Most people know that food, especially sugar, was rationed during World War II. Though what that entailed for women is mind boggling. Women had to create wholesome, balanced and good tasting meals, despite food shortages and a rationing point system that changed constantly.And since many of them were now working, they had little time to deal with shopping for scarce groceries.

To help women cope, a score of pamphlet type cookbooks came on the market (pamphlets I assume because everyone knew the war wouldn’t go on forever, so these were made on the cheap), as well as newspaper and magazines that printed recipes with the new shortages and rationing in mind.

The following recipe found in Aunt Lil’s cook book cut from the Boston Globe is for Apple Sauce Muffins. The recipe is a perfect example of this. First of all, women were encouraged to replace sugar with sweetened canned fruits (hopefully canned by them) such as applesauce. Notice this recipe only calls for 3 tablespoons of sugar.You are getting sweetness from the applesauce.

Also notice the recipe calls for evaporated milk. Prior to June 1943 evaporated milk was available and not rationed. After that it too was rationed along with many canned goods needed to send overseas.

Two things readily available that were used in the recipe were eggs and dried fruit. Neither was rationed during the War.

The back of the recipe has help wanted ads. The ads are industries seeking women for war work including the Harvey Radio Laboratories and Polaroid Corporation. Harvey Radio Laboratories were making radar sets for the war, while Polaroid made a number of items including scopes for guns on tanks and goggles for pilots during night bombing missions, a 3-dimensional machine gun training simulator, filters for rangefinders and periscopes, and a hand-held optical device to determine the elevation of an aircraft above the horizon. These would have been high-paying jobs for women at the time.

Here’s a photo of the recipe:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. evaporated milk diluted with 1/2 c. water
  • 2 c. flour
  • 3 tbs. sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. apple sauce
  • 3 tbs butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. chopped dates (I used raisins)

Beat eggs and add milk

Add the sifted dry ingredients

Add apple sauce and melted butter (slightly cooled)

Mix well and add chopped dates (or raisins)

Pour into buttered muffin tins

Bake 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven

(or if you use a loaf pan it suggests 350 degree oven for one hour)

I made this quite a while ago, so unfortunately I can’t remember what it tasted like. But the recipe fit in so well with my World War II research I felt I should share it. 


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