Wartime recipe ideas for a VE Day picnic

Wartime recipes for VE Day picnic

Image credit: veday75


Friday 8th May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, when wartime Britain celebrated the surrender of Nazi Germany and the beginning of peace.

This Bank Holiday, families across the country will be remembering the anniversary with at-home celebrations featuring home-made bunting, DIY union flags and garden picnics.

By way of inspiration, we have collated a number of wartime themed recipes. However, in 1945, with rationing still in place (and set to continue for a further nine years), home cooks had to be creative with their baking, so you may find a few surprises within the ingredients!



16oz (450g) self-raising flour

2oz (50g) caster sugar

4oz (100g) butter

2oz (50g) sultanas

2tsp baking powder

1/2 pint (250ml) milk

Pinch of salt


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C / 425F
  2. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl
  3. Rub in the butter using your fingertips to create a breadcrumb consistency
  4. Add sugar and sultanas
  5. Add milk, a little at a time, combining until you have a smooth dough
  6. Leave to rest for 10 mins
  7. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, approx 2cm thick. Cut into circles
  8. Brush the tops with milk and place on a lightly greased baking tray
  9. Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins. Allow to cool.
Cheese & Marmite Savoury Whirls

12oz (350g) plain flour

4oz (100g) butter

4oz (100g) mature cheddar, grated

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp dried mustard powder

3 tsp quick rise dried yeast



  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C / 425F
  2. Mix together the flour, mustard powder and yeast in a large mixing bowl
  3. Rub in the butter using your fingertips
  4. Add the cheese
  5. Mix in the eggs and work into a dough
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, approx 1cm thick, rectangular shape
  7. Spread the marmite across the dough, then roll up in a swiss roll shape and slice up into whirls
  8. Place the whirls on a greased baking tray and bake for approx 15 mins until golden. Leave to cool.
Jam Tarts

8oz (225g) plain flour

3oz (75g) butter



  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C / 350F
  2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl
  3. Rub the butter into the flour and add water as required (making a pliable dough)
  4. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface, approx 1/2cm thick – the dough should make 12 tart cases
  5. Place the discs into a greased muffin tin and place a heaped teaspoon of jam into the centre of each one
  6. Bake in the oven for approx 20 mins, until the pastry is golden brown. Leave to cool (be careful when removing from the tin as the jam may still be hot!)
Ration Cake

8oz (225g) plain flour

4 tsp baking powder

3oz (85g) butter

3oz (85g) sultanas

1 tbsp marmalade

6 tbsp condensed milk (made up to 150ml with water)

2 eggs, beaten


  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C / 375F
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl
  3. Rub in the butter, then add the sultanas and mix to a soft consistency with the marmalade, milk and eggs
  4. Spoon mixture into a greased cake tin (6″ / 15cm) and bake for 45 mins
  5. Cool on a wire rack and serve in slices.

3 lemons

2oz (50g) granulated sugar

1.2l boiling water


  1. Peel the lemons, cutting the rinds into 1cm slices before placing in a bowl
  2. Sprinkle the rinds with sugar and leave to stand for approx 1 hour
  3. Pour the water over the sugared rinds and allow to cool before straining
  4. Squeeze the lemons into the bowl (using a sieve to collect any pips) and stir well
  5. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

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