"Pound Cake" got its name because it is made from one pound each of four ingredients: butter, eggs, flour, and sugar. These cakes are English in origin and are well-liked because they are firm but moist, and versatile as they can be served plain or accompanied by fruits and toppings. They can also keep for several days at room temperature. Leavening agents were not used in older recipes for Pound Cake as they were frowned upon by home bakers. The cake's rising was made possible due to vigourous beating of the butter into a cream as instructed in the recipe and through the leavening power of eggs. Chemical leaveners were introduced around the time that the Canadian Receipt Book was printed. They reduced the amount of time needed to beat the butter and the eggs did not need to be separated.
The Pound Cake recipe here instructs to cook in a "quick oven" for an hour. Since there were no dials on mid-19th century stoves or thermometers to measure cooking temperatures, the baker used their hand to assess the oven’s temperature as slow, medium, or quick. Sometimes it could be determined by the amount of time it took for water to evaporate from a dampened hand.
The word ketchup usually brings to mind a red tomato-based sauce in a squeezable bottle made by the H. J. Heinz Company in the United States. In England, mushroom ketchup made from the largest broad mushrooms was traditionally used as a condiment to enhance the flavour of roasts or to act as a separate ingredient in other sauces. This recipe for "Mushroom Ketchup" does not indicate the weight or quantity of mushrooms that are required to make the ketchup, just so long as they fit into an earthen pan. Liquor and spices are added according to taste as no measurements are provided. The mention of Jamaica in the recipe could be a reference to Jamaica Ginger, which is an alcoholic beverage with a strong ginger flavour.
Mushrooms have a long and revered history. In Egypt, the pharaohs were so fond of them that they were regarded as a royal food. The French cultivated them in caves. They were not thought to be a nutritious food, but in reality are actually quite nutrient-dense, containing the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin, B6, and folate. They are low in calories and have iron, potassium, and selenium in their fibres.
The flavour in mushrooms comes from glutamic acid, a naturally-occurring version of the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG). When prepared according to the recipe, the ketchup will produce a thin liquid like Worcestershire sauce and a highly desirable savoury umami taste.