Little-Tin Pound Cakes for Invalids

vintage ad for malt drink for convalescing patients

Mary Hedley Scudder champions the ill and infirm in her 1902 article “After Christmas — What?” These people, she insists, suffer the most from the dreary, uninteresting months following the holiday season.


“Somewhere there is an invalid whose days drag heavily, even though tenderness has guarded each hour,” Scudder writes, “and she has only Christmas memories.” Scudder recommends that her readership do more for such pitiable souls:

It may be you have only a few flowers, or a single rose, and it seems so small to give, but it may help a trying hour — who knows? One day there may be a dainty to send, a cup of soup, a pretty cake, baked as for a child in a ‘patty pan;’ something will always be ready if the invalid is in mind every day.


Scudder is of the opinion that tiny loaves of bread and tiny cakes bring the most delight to infirm young girls or women. “I know a woman who has a tiny bread tin, and a biscuit pan for just such cases,” she writes. “Why can you not do likewise?”

Why not, indeed? Here is a recipe for “pound cake for little tins” from a Boston Cooking School advertisement for baking tins found in the August–September, 1914 edition of American Cookery.

Pound Cake for Little Tins

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon brandy or milk
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoonful baking powder (level)
1/4 teaspoon mace
2 egg whites

Put a little of the mixture in the center of each tin; the heat of the oven will cause it to run and fill the tins. [Make sure to use a cake tin that bakes about 12 little cakes.] The recipe makes about sixty little cakes. Spread confectioner’s icing on the top or leave plain.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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