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According to WhatsCookingAmerica.com, pound cake is a British confection that dates back to the early 18th century. Back then, pound cakes weren’t the transportable size they are today; they were big enough to feed more than one family.

“The name comes from the fact that the original pound cakes each contain a pound of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour,” says What’s Cooking. “No leavening agents were used, except for the air being whipped into the batter. In the days when many people couldn’t read, this simple convention made it easy to remember recipes.”

Over time, the recipe changed. By the mid-1800s, cakes were smaller and lighter, although the 1:1:1:1 ratio was still used.

Why are there variations of pound cake in the recipe files of so many Southerners? It’s thanks to a former slave named Abby Fisher, a South Carolina native who lived in Mobile, Alabama, before moving to San Francisco after the Civil War, What’s Cooking said. Once there, she made her living selling homemade goods such as pickles and preserves. When people kept asking about Southern cooking, Fisher published the 1881 book “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking.” She didn’t write the book because she couldn’t write or read. Friends wrote down her recipes and memories for the book, which contains two-pound cake recipes.

(Photo courtesy of AL.com)

The introduction to the book states:

The publication of a book on my knowledge and experience of Southern Cooking, Pickle and Jelly Making, has often been requested by my friends and clients in San Francisco and Oakland, as well as by ladies of Sacramento at the 1879 State Fair. reading or writing… made me doubt whether I could present a work that could give perfect satisfaction. But after careful consideration I decided to put forward a book with my knowledge – based on an experience of more than thirty five years – in the art of cooking Soups, Gumbos, Terrapin Stews, Meat Stews, Baked and Roast Meats, Pastries, Pies and cookies, making jelly, pickles, sauces, ice cream and jam, preserving fruits, etc. The book will be a complete instructor so that a child can understand and learn the art of cooking. with respect,

Mrs. Abby Fisher, late from Mobile, Ala.

According to Kate Williams in a 2018 article on SouthernKitchen.com, Fisher’s was one of the first cookbooks published by an African American. She called the pound cakes described in her book “silver” and “gold.” They were “both leavened with a combination of whipped egg whites and ‘the best yeast powder,” Williams wrote. “By adding egg whites and yeast, pound cakes are much more foolproof, as the most traditional recipes are leavened only through the mechanical process of the right way to butter and sugar, a feat much more challenging before the advent of electric household mixers in the early 20th century. Imagine whipping a pound of butter with just a wooden spoon until something fluffy and fluffy.”

Deep South Magazine calls the Southern pound cake “the scrumptious, delicious and downright sinful combination of moist, buttery goodness in every bite,” adding, “Wherever you find it, the pound cake is a particularly rich cake in many countries, but yet the southern version is the most popular in taste.”

Further advances in cooking made cake baking an easy proposition so that today many cooks turn their attention to creating unusual flavors of the cakes.

The website SomethingSwanky.com collected 60 unusual recipes, including:

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