The Kitchen Front and an Eggless Honey-Apple Cake Recipe

Claudia is hosting the February/March selection for Cook the Books.  You can read her announcement post here.

Current SelectionAbout the book:

Two years into World War II, Britain is feeling her losses: The Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is holding a cooking contest—and the grand prize is a job as the program’s first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the contest would present a crucial chance to change their lives.

For a young widow, it’s a chance to pay off her husband’s debts and keep a roof over her children’s heads. For a kitchen maid, it’s a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For a lady of the manor, it’s a chance to escape her wealthy husband’s increasingly hostile behavior. And for a trained chef, it’s a chance to challenge the men at the top of her profession.

These four women are giving the competition their all—even if that sometimes means bending the rules. But with so much at stake, will the contest that aims to bring the community together only serve to break it apart?

About the author:About Jennifer Ryan

Jennifer Ryan is the author of National Bestseller The Chilbury Ladie’s ChoirThe Spies of Shilling Lane, and The Kitchen Front. Her writing has featured in Literary Hub, Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, The Daily Mail, The Irish Times, The Express, BBC Online, YOU Magazine, The Simple Things Magazine, and Good Reading Magazine. Previously a book editor with The Economist, DK, and the BBC, she moved from London to Washington, DC after marrying, and she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. Her novels are inspired by her grandmother’s tales of the war in Britain.

What I thought…

I’ve been reading a lot of WWII fiction lately so this selection for the March/April Cook the Books round fit right in.   I enjoyed the dynamics between the four characters (or five if you count Mrs. Quince).  This is a fun and light read and I enjoyed seeing them  find friendship, hope and success in the kitchen during dire times in England.

Each woman saw the contest as a way out of their current situation.  Audrey needed it to continue to maintain the crumbling Willow Lodge and provide for her boys.  Nell saw winning as a way out of her life of servitude.  Zelda needed it to get back to the high cuisine of London.  Gwendolyn needed it because….

Gwendolyn was a hard character to like, even at the end.  Early on in the book there’s a clue that her life at Fenley Hall might not be a princess-like existence:  “The evening’s work had made her feel busy and worthwhile” (26).

While she married into wealth and power and prestige, she feels worthless.   As we’re made more aware about Lord Strickland, we realize why.   I might understand the reason for her actions; I just can’t excuse them.   When she and Audrey are able to reconnect and information is shared about their childhood, I still didn’t think that gave her cause to be the villain that she chose to be.

The Food:

Some chapters end in a recipe that was meant for shortages and rations—no eggs, no butter, little sugar. Some sound truly delicious. Some do not.   Here is a list of the foods mentioned in the novel.  Recipes are in the maroon type.

  • Homity Pie (15)
  • Sole Veronique (27)
  • Lord Woolton Pie (28)
  • Vegetables and burning garlic (32)
  • Bangers, salt cod (masked with curry sauce), Boeuf bourginon, penne al dente, quick vs. pies and rissoles (40)
  • Curried Salt Cod (42)
  • thimble full of sherry (48)
  • Coq au vin (53)
  • Coquilles St. Jacques (65)
  • Smoked haddock kedgeree, bacon, eggs (scrambled, poached and fried).  Part of the Fenley’s excess (68)
  • Parsnip fritters, next medley, sardine rolls (69)
  • Tea menu (70)
  • 4 meat pies, 2 rhubarb tarts, large birthday cake (78).  More food for Shad…Hall
  • Sweet Pickle Chutney (84)
  • Salmon mousse choux pastries, poached haddock quenelles (90)
  • Elderberry wine (96)
  • Seared Hare with Elderberry Wine Sauce (97)
  • Potted shrimp sandwiches (97) to keep the Stricklands from getting “peckish” while in the bomb shelter
  • Polenta (112)
  • Egg tart, smoked mackerel pate, waterress and wild fennel soup, gooseberry terrine 125
  • Bacon, dried harcorts, dried apples (120)
  • Wild mushrooms (including chanterelles), sweet cicely, marrow, sorrel (127)
  • Mushroom Soup (134)
  • Sardine rolls (146)
  • Fruit scones and rose hip jam (169)
  • Farmhouse scramble (170)
  • Fruit Scones (176)
  • Wedding cake (177)
  • Medallions of fillet steak w/Bernaise sauce (182)
  • Spam and Game Pie (200)
  • Sheep’s Head Roll (213)
  • Eggless Chocolate Sponge Cake (223)
  • Chicken Cacciatore (236)
  • Whale steak and mushroom pie (243)
  • Mock chicken, “Steak and Mushroom Pie,” cold pressed pie with hot water crust (255)
  • Large pot of boiling porridge (283)
  • Nell’s Summer Pudding (289)
  • Cornish Pasties (305)
  • Madeleines (307)
  • Sausage rolls; ginger buns; salmon loaf;  cold-pressed rabbit pie; bacon and potato pasties; lentil sausages; spinach, egg and cheese tartlets (338)
  • Special Occasion Cake (342)
  • Honey (358)
  • Apples (360)
  • Eggless Apple & Honey Cake (360)
  • Mock Apricot Tart (363)
  • Croquembouche (365)

As I read about the rationing and shortages, I could not help but make comparisons to today (outrageous price of eggs) and the most recent past (when flour and yeast were hard to find during the pandemic).  It was sobering.

While I do want to make the cacciatore, the mushroom soup (most definitely) and the fruit scones, I decided to try my hand at Audrey’s Eggless Apple & Honey Cake.

Eggless Apple and Honey Cake

From The Kitchen Front

I reworked the directions a bit and added a dash of nutmeg.


  • 4 c. peeled, cored and chopped apples (1-inch pieces), about 4 apples
  • water (as needed)
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. oatmeal
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c. toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 T. powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Add 2 cups of the apples in a medium sauce pan.  Start by adding 3 T. water.  Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.   Check and add more water as needed unitl a thick applesauce-like puree is formed.  I used a potato masher to further mince up the pieces.
  3. Mix in the flour, oatmeal, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda, honey and oil until well blended. Add the remaining apples, nuts and sugar.
  4. Pour into a greased cake pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when pushed inside the thickest part.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool. Dust with more powdered sugar if desired.

Yield: 6-8

The final result reminded me so much of a Knobby Apple Cake recipe we had growing up.   This is a dense cake and I enjoyed it for breakfast as well.   The Hubs loved it and said it was a keeper.   I do think that a shortcut would be to use prepared, unsweetened apple sauce and I will try that next.

Adding a scoop of vanilla bean made a great dessert.

You still have some time to participate in this round of Cook the Books.  Membership is open to everyone.  If you’re planning ahead, think about reading Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus for the April/May round.  I’m hosting!

I’ve been really remiss and totally forgot about Foodies Read.  I’m linking up after a long hiatus.

March 2023 Foodies Read

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