This is a fun little piece my mother passed on to me. First is an excerpt from Martha Washington's letters to her grandmother. Note, I have written these exactly as they are printed, with the exception of using the modern "s" in place of the Georgian f shaped s to make it easier to read.
To make a great Cake
"Take 40 eggs and divide the whites from the yolks and beat them to a froth then work 4 pounds of butter to a cream & put the whites of eggs to it a Spoon full at a time till it is well work'd then put 4 pounds of sugar finely powdered to it in the same manner then put in the youlks of eggs & 5 pounds of flower & 5 pounds of fruit. 2 hours will bake it add to it half an ounce of mace & nutmeg half a pint of wine & some frensh brandy."
Now, if you can find a pan big enough to bake this cake, you may want to ice it, right? Below is an excerpt from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse.
To Ice a great Cake another Way
"Take two pounds of double refin'd Sugar, beat and sift it very fine, and likewise beat and sift a little Starch and mix with it, then beat six White of Eggs to a froth, and put to it some Gum-water, the Gum must be steep'd in the Orange-flower-water, then mix and beat all these together two Hours, and put it on your Cake; when it is bake, set it in the oven again to harden a quarter of an Hour, take great Care it is not discolour'd. When it is drawn, ice it over the top and sides, take two Pounds of double refin'd Sugar beat and sifted, and the Whites of three Eggs beat to a Froth, with three or four Sponfuls of Orange-flower-water, and three Grains of Musk and Amber-grease together; put all these on a Stone Mortear, and beat these till it is as white as snow, and with a Brush or Bundle of Feathers, spread it all over the Cake and put it in the oven to dry, but take Care the oven does ot discolor it. When it is cold, paper it, and it will keep good five or six weeks."
Next time on the The Colonial Baking Show, we will share a modernized version of Martha Washington's Great Cake, be sure to tune in to see us try to wrangle a 20" cake pan into a wood fire oven, only on The Food Nutwork...