More Wartime Cooking: Wheatless Fruit Tarts

wheatless fruit tart – wartime cooking

Mary Elizabeth was convinced she could develop an entire repertoire of wartime wheatless and sugarless recipes. Her 1918 Mary Elizabeth’s War Time Recipes testifies to the success of her endeavor — the cookbook is filled with dozens of delightful recipes that eschew wheat, sugar and meat. “I am gathering these recipes,” she writes, “that they may help some folks who have the same earnest desire as myself to aid the Food Administration in every way but lack the facilities and time to work out their own recipes.”

Here’s a summer recipe from Mary Elizabeth’s cookbook for a wheatless fruit tart. It uses barley flour as a substitute for wheat, which results in a wonderfully flaky crust. Containing all eight amino acids, barley flour also packs a powerful nutritional punch.

Wheatless Fruit Tarts

1 1/2 cups barley flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hard vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons ice-cold water

Sift the two flours and salt together; cut into it the shortening, using a knife, until it is in tiny bits. Then rub together lightly with the hands until all the ingredients are well blended. Now add the water, mixing as little as possible.

Mold into a ball. Place on a well-floured bread-board. Roll thin, using a little flour on the rolling pin. Cut with a large biscuit-cutter and place over bottoms of muffin tins. Bake in a hot oven until light brown. When cold, fill the shells with fruit filling.

Fruit Filling for Tarts

Use rhubarb, strawberries, cherries, raspberries or currants. Canned fruit may be used in winter, but as they are sweetened, reduce the sugar quantity by one half.

1 quart fruit (any of the above varieties)
1 cup maple sugar (crushed)
1/4 cup water
3 level tablespoons corn starch

Boil until the fruit is tender. Then add three level tablespoons of cornstarch, dissolved in a tablespoon of water. Boil slowly, stirring constantly, for able five minutes longer. When cold, fill the tart molds and serve.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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