Wheatless recipes (1918)

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During World War I, even after rationing was over (such as for meat products), there was still a need for Americans at home to eat less wheat. Rather than force legal restrictions, the government asked for help on a sort of honor system.

“When thousands are dying on the battlefields of Europe to protect YOUR home and YOUR family, it is very little to ask that in return, wheat be eliminated from your menu,” said a statement issued in May 1918 by the U S Food Administration of California. “Do away with wheat — abolish it from your table, and you will be aiding in the defense of your home and country.” Then they added one more kicker: “Every time you eat a piece of white bread, you are taking it away from one who needs it worse, from either a starving woman or child or a hungry soldier.”

And so, many recipes were created using all kinds of other flours and similar products — rice flour, potato flour, corn meal, etc. Here are some recipes created at the time. (Note that many do not have explicit baking instructions, and probably supposed that everyone knew how to bake traditional staples.)

Kneading dough - Wheatless recipes (1918)

Wheatless days

The following recipes were given by M. Edouard Panchard, of the McAlpin; M. de Dooven, head pastry cook of the Vanderbilt, with permission of M. Lecroche, head chef, and the Hotel Martinique [in New York].

Better save these recipes, gentle reader, for unless all signs fail, the hotels are merely the outriders of a procession which sooner or later every household must join. “Every day’ll be wheatless day, bye and bye,” and “preparedness” is the word.

Pastry cream

1 quart milk
4 egg yolks
1 cupful sugar
2 eggs (whole)
2 ounces potato flour

Beat eggs, potato flour and sugar together. Scald milk and add gradually to the egg mixture. Cook over boiling water until thickened and thoroughly cooked.

– The Vanderbilt Hotel

Sponge cake

4 eggs
3/4 cupful rice flour
1 cupful sugar
1/3 teaspoonful salt
Lemon juice or vanilla

Beat yolks of eggs until thick and lemon-colored. Add salt and the sugar gradually. Beat until light. Fold into this mixture the stiffly whipped whites and the sifted rice flour and add flavoring. Bake in moderate oven.

– US Food Administration

Wheatless pie dough

1/3 cupful rye flour
1/3 cupful barley flour
1/3 cupful rice flour
1/4 teaspoonful salt
1/4 teaspoonful baking powder
1/4 cupful vegetable fat and lard mixed
Cold water powder
Small egg yolk

Mix baking powder, salt and flour, rub in the lard, and egg yolk beaten slightly. Mix quite stiff with cold water. Roll out on floured surface. Dot with remaining fat and sprinkle with flour. Fold over and roll out again. Roll like jelly roll, divide in two parts and roll out to fit plate.

– Hotel McAlpin

>> See more: 6 old-fashioned wheat-free bread recipes (1918)

Recipes from The Salina Daily Union (Salina, Kansas) – June 4, 1918
Griddle cakes

3/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup rice flour
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon baking soda
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 cups buttermilk or sour milk
1 egg

Mix all ingredients except egg. Beat egg white and yolk separately. Fold in the yolks, then fold in the whites before cooking like hotcakes

Corn pones

Sift together one teaspoonful of salt, half a teaspoonful of soda, and two cupfuls of white cornmeal. Mix into this two level teaspoons of lard, and when smooth, stir in one cupful of buttermilk and 1/2 cup of water. Wet the hands in cold water and shape the mixture into small pones. Bake until done through and a golden brown.

Oatmeal cookies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or Crisco
1 egg beaten separately (add sugar to yolk and beat, fold in beaten white and…)
2 cups of oatmeal
1/2 cup of rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Add nuts and raisins if desired. Grind a part or all of the oatmeal.

Wheatless drop cakes

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup seeded raisins
1 egg
2 cups barley flour or rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream shortening and sugar together until light.

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