1852 Friday Jan 9th
[…]Have had about 30 here this evening and
quite a pleasant time though the weather not
pleasant. Lavinia came here with Augustus last
night and we ladies have had a nice time making
cake and getting ready for them Helen & Lavinia
made the bed in the front chamber to suit themselves
Oakes and Evelina Ames hosted a wedding reception at their house for newlyweds Edwin and Augusta Pool Gilmore, attended by members of the extended Gilmore and Pool families who traveled through inclement weather to get there. The celebration, complete with cake and tea – but no wine – was “quite a pleasant time.” What a special occasion for a cold, dark time of year.
The preparations for the party had been fun, too. Lavinia Gilmore, sister of the groom, had been driven back to Evelina’s, carried by her brother Augustus Gilmore, to help with the cake. More cake! Helen Angier Ames had walked over from next door, again. The two young unmarried women had a sleep-over at their Aunt Evelina’s.
What might the cake have been made of? Sarah Josepha Hale offers up quite a recipe for a wedding cake in her 1841 The Good Housekeeper:
‘Take two pounds and a half of dried and sifted flour, allow the same quantity of fresh butter washed with rose water, two pounds of finely pounded loaf sugar, three pounds of cleaned and dried currants, one pound of raisins stoned, one nutmeg grated, half a pound of sweetmeats cut small, a quarter pound of blanched almonds pounded with a little rose water, and twenty eggs, the yolks and whites separately beaten.
The butter must be beaten by hand till it becomes like cream; then add the sugar, and by degrees the eggs; after these, the rest of the ingredients, mixing in at last the currants, with nearly a tea-cupful of rose or orange flower water. This mixture must be beaten together rather more than half an hour, then put into a cake-pan, which has previously been buttered and lined with buttered paper; fill it rather more than three quarters full. It should be baked in a moderate oven for three hours, and then cooled gradually, by at first letting it stand some time at the mouth of the oven.
If you fear the bottom of the cake may burn, put the pan on a plate with saw-dust between.”*
*Sarah Josepha Hale, The Good Housekeeper, 1841, p. 100