This 1940s recipe uses very little sugar — which was rationed during wartime.
Honey Nut Cake
1940s recipe from old advertisement
2 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour
2 tsp. Calumet Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup butter or shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup finely shopped nuts
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, sift together three times. Cream butter or shortening; add sugar gradually, and cream thoroughly; then add honey in thirds, beating well after each addition. Add 1/4 of flour and beat until smooth and well blended.
Beat eggs until thick enough to pile up in a bowl; add to cake mixture and beat well. Add nuts. Add remaining flour in thirds, alternating with milk in halves, beating very well after each addition. Add vanilla. Bake in greased 9-inch tube pan in slow oven (325˚F) for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until done. Spread Honey Butter Frosting on top and sides of cake. Decorate top of cake with wreath made of candied cherries and angelica or citron.
Honey Butter Frosting
Cream 2 tbsp. butter; add 2 tbsp. honey and blend. Add 1/3 cup sifted confectioners sugar and cream thoroughly. Add a dash of salt. Then add 1 egg white, unbeaten, alternately with 2 cups of sifted confectioners sugar, beating well after each addition. Add 1/2 tsp. vanilla. If necessary, add more sugar until of right consistenct to spread. Makes about 1 cup of frosting.
This is what a World War II ration book looked like. Among other things, the cover warns that violating Rationing Orders and Regulations is punishable by $10,000 in fines and/or 10 years in prison.