1916 Scottish Trench Cake

This delicious recipe is based on an old Scottish wartime recipe called 1916 trench cake. It is a lovely dense fruity cake which we enjoyed served warm with a drizzle of golden syrup or honey.

You can watch the full recipe in the video below or print out the recipe at the end of this blog post.

This recipe is based on an old Scottish wartime recipe by Elizabeth Craig. Apparently this recipe was government issued and was made by people back home to send to the soliders in the trenches. I have tried to keep it as close to the orignal ingredients as possible but have made my own adjustments.

The original Scottish war time cake recipe is served as it is but I think it is nice enjoyed with a little butter or honey on the cake slices. It stores really well and is lovely as a little afternoon pick me up. I also like to serve this for breakfast with a little butter and jam its so tasty and the kids even take a wee bit in thier packed lunch boxes for school.

If your enjoying this recipe you may also enjoy trying some of my other recipes inspired by wartime cooking. I love this delicious wartime orange cake its so easy to make but is really lovely with a little icing on the top. I also love the marmalade oat bars and although they are not part of my wartime cooking series on Youtube they are an equally simple recipe and the kids love them.

Tips for making this recipe:

  • I have tried to keep the ingredients as close to the original recipe as possible but have experimented a little to get it right. If you like you could try making this with self raising flour instead of the plain flour, I think it would benefit from a good rise.
  • You could also try using butter instead of the margarine if you don’t have marg to hand. Marg is not something I always have in the fridge but did make it with marg on this occasion. I do love using butter in my cakes though.
  • Spices could also be added to this sponge to add some new flavours.
  • I cooked it for an hour but be careful not to burn the top, you could add a piece of greased greasproof paper on the top to prevent any burning on the top.
  • Try to leave it to cool a little before removing it from the tin. This helps it hold its shape. It is quite dense so it does hold pretty well anyway.

1916 Scottish Wartime Trench Cake

A wartime Scottish recipe.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour


  • 1 medium cake tin


  • 225g plain flour
  • 115g margarine
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 1tsp vinegar
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp cocoa powder
  • 85g currants
  • 85g light brown sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 160c (fan) oven.
  • Grease up a cake tin or add a sheet of greased greaseproof paper to the tin.
  • Rub the flour and butter together in a large bowl.
  • Pour the milk, vinegar and baking powder into a small jug and blend through.
  • Add the currants, cocoa and light brown sugar to the flour mixture and mix through.
  • Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and beat through well.
  • Bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour.
  • Leave to cool slightly before turning out onto a cooling rack.
  • Drizzle with golden syrup and serve with butter while warm.

5 thoughts on “1916 Scottish Trench Cake

    • Hi Sharon, yes I have an email list, if you go to the home page and pop your email in for the free Traditional Scottish cookbook you will be added to it there. If you have any problems drop me a line – info@angiemilne.com take care, Angie x

  1. Robert Graham

    A recipe that came down through my family was for an Eggless Keeping Cake, and I suspect the roots for this and the Trench cake may well be the same – much the same proportions of the main ingredients, though mine has more dried fruit which is clearly adjustable. I assume that the vinegar and bi-carb give the rise.

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