Pound Cake Project, Part 3
The third recipe for this project comes from an 1886 cookbook titled Mrs. Rorer’s Cook Book. I own an original copy, not a facsimile and it’s in excellent condition. I wonder how many books nowadays will hold up as well. But I digress.
This was the first time in the project where the written format of the recipes deviates from old standard of a single paragraph and separates it into ingredients and preparation. The reason for this is that the target audience of the book is the absolute beginner female cook, as Mrs. Rorer makes very clear in her preface:
“I have often detected an obscurity in the directions in recipes which, in the hands of an amateur, would lead to failure, and have in the following recipes endeavored to avoid this by making them so plain, that a beginner may successfully make, with few exceptions, any dish contained herein.”
Unlike authors and recipes from previous examples, this one does not assume the person using the book knows how to cook or has any experience in cooking. One possible reason for this was the fact that women during this period were not as confined to the domestic sphere as they had previously been. During the Industrial Revolution which had peaked in the United States a few decades earlier, women transitioned from the kitchens to the factories and along with them went the knowledge of every day cooking that their predecessors had enjoyed. Therefore it could not be assumed in a book for beginners that they know how to make anything at all. Aside from that, this recipe is much like the previous ones; the ratio of ingredients is the same and there is nothing aside from the original four ingredients and flavorings:
1 pound of butter
1 pound of powdered sugar
1 pound of flour
1 gill of brandy
1/4 teaspoonful of mace
Beat the butter to a cream, add gradually the sugar, beating all the while. Beat the eggs, without separating, until very, very light, add them gradually to the butter and sugar, and beat the whole vigorously. Add the flour sifted; beat well, add the mace and brandy. Line a round cake pan with buttered paper, pour in the cake, and bake in a moderate oven one and a quarter hours.
This recipe also calls for powered sugar. Based on my previous research, actual powder sugar, minus the cornstarch, was available at the time so I used powdered sugar as opposed to caster sugar. This is part of the assumptions that I, as modern baker, have to make because I have no way of knowing what sugar exactly Mrs. Rorer intended for the recipe. I also used regular unbleached all-purpose flour. This type of flour is not exactly what would have been available but, as discussed before, no flour in existence today is truly like the flour of centuries past. Many variables in the flour have changed.
The cake itself looked much like the first one on the project. It did have a large bump on the top but that is due to the long baking time and the temperature of the oven. The cake was dense but moist and as far as taste and texture, it was the best one up to that point.