Authentic Varina Howell Davis' Pound Cake

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Eleanor Rose

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
5,802
Location
central NC
mrs-davis.jpg
Varina Howell Davis (Library of Congress)

This recipe is from the personal collection of Varina Howell Davis, Jefferson Davis' wife. Her original recipes were given to Beauvoir by her daughter, Margaret (pictured below).


Varina Howell Davis' Pound Cake

Ingredients:
12 eggs
1 lb. sugar
1 lb. butter
1 lb. all-purpose flour
1 wine glass of wine


Directions:
Cream the butter, stir the sugar into it, separate eggs, beat very light, mix in the ingredients, bake very slowly.


This is Margaret's wedding portrait. She was the only one of the Davis children to marry, bear children, and outlive her parents. On New Year's Day in 1876 she married J. Addison Hayes in Memphis.

MargaretWedding.jpg
(Courtesy of Beauvoir, Biloxi, Miss.)
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Eleanor Rose

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
5,802
Location
central NC
what does it mean separate eggs - then put them together again in the mix?
I'm not a pound cake expert, sorry.
Great question! It just means the egg yolk is removed from the egg white. This allows one part of the egg to be used without the other part, or each part to be treated in different ways. You can actually purchase an egg separator or you can do it by hand.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Eleanor Rose

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
5,802
Location
central NC
Are you sure this wasn't called Varina Howell Davis' Pound Sand cake...
The recipe I found calls it a pound cake. Sand cake usually (not always) has cornstarch as an ingredient. What makes you ask? Have you seen this recipe identified as a sand cake? Sand cake is delicious. Do you have a recipe you could share?
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

John Winn

Captain
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Messages
6,620
Location
State of Jefferson
Thanks for sharing this recipe @Eleanor Rose Ive never heard of wine in pound cake either, but if it has wine in it, you know its got to be good. @John Winn I know you enjoy fine wines. Have you seen this recipe? Can you tell us which wines might be best?
I have to say I've never seen a recipe for pound cake that called for wine so it's a guess but I think I'd certainly stick to white and probably something relatively dry (typical in cooking); maybe a pinot gris, albarino, or chardonnay. Sauvignon blanc seems a little too dry for cake somehow. Best I can do !
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Joined
Apr 3, 2018
Messages
197
There's precedent for alcohol in cakes, right?
There are a lot of recipes from the 1800s with alcohol in them -- or with a lot more alcohol than most modern versions, when it comes to things like Marlburough Pie -- in part, I would guess, for alcohol's preserving qualities. The wine is the major flavoring here so I'd go with something you know you like that won't over power it, a white wine probably, although somewhere I saw someone recommending sherry.

I've never seen a pound cake recipe where the eggs are divided before; most recipes for pound cake, air is beaten into the butter for the rising agent, then the butter and sugar are beaten, and then eggs beaten in after that. Once that mixture is all light and airy, you add the rest of the ingredients. She's got them in that order, and doesn't tell you want to do with the eggs once separated, so maybe she meant to write 'add eggs and beat them in'?
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,138
Location
Central Pennsylvania
There are a lot of recipes from the 1800s with alcohol in them -- or with a lot more alcohol than most modern versions, when it comes to things like Marlburough Pie -- in part, I would guess, for alcohol's preserving qualities. The wine is the major flavoring here so I'd go with something you know you like that won't over power it, a white wine probably, although somewhere I saw someone recommending sherry.

I've never seen a pound cake recipe where the eggs are divided before; most recipes for pound cake, air is beaten into the butter for the rising agent, then the butter and sugar are beaten, and then eggs beaten in after that. Once that mixture is all light and airy, you add the rest of the ingredients. She's got them in that order, and doesn't tell you want to do with the eggs once separated, so maybe she meant to write 'add eggs and beat them in'?

I read a recipe that included brandy. It was wonderful. You went through all the steps- mix dry together, etc., whip eggs, sugar, butter, etc, combine everything- then drink the 1/2 cup of brandy. Laughed so hard I forgot to drink it.
 

donna

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
May 12, 2010
Messages
30,596
Location
Now Florida but always a Kentuckian
Many cakes call for some type alcohol. I always think of Kentucky Bourbon Cake.

I did find another pound cake with wine. It called for sparkling white wine. I have to get site and post.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top