1 lb. butter (unsalted preferred)
1 lb. granulated sugar
3/4 c white wine
3/4 c rose brandy
1 -2 tbs. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
Grated rind and juice of half a lemon
1 lb. flour
20 eggs, separated, use whites only
Prepare a pound of fresh butter and a pound of powdered loaf sugar, as before directed, mix them together, and beat them to a cream. Add to it a wine glass of white wine, one of rose brandy, a grated nutmeg, a tea-spoonful of powdered cinnamon, or a few drops of the essence, and the juice and grated rind of half a lemon. Sift a pound of the finest flour, and beat to a very stiff froth the whites only of twenty fresh eggs; then stir into the other ingredients alternately and gradually the flour and eggs, giving it a hard stirring at the last. Put it in a deep buttered pan, of circular form, having a straight, upright rim, and not filling it more than half full; let it stand to rise, and bake it in a moderate oven, very little warm at first, and gradually heating it, and putting rather more fire underneath than on the top. When it is thoroughly done, withdraw the fire, let it remain in the oven till it gets cool, and ice it smoothly with white cake icing, and when it gets about half dry, ornament it in the most elegant manner with devices and borders in white sugar, which you may obtain at the confectioners. It should be considerably elevated upon the table, and stick firmly in the center of it, a handsome assemblage of real or artificial leaves and white flowers.
The Kentucky Housewife, by Mrs. Lettice Bryan, 1839.
Comment: The “rose brandy” called for here is a variant on rose water and is made the same way: “Fill a glass jar with fresh rose leaves, pour over them as much white brandy as the jar will hold; cover them and set them by to steep till the flavor of the roses is extracted; then drain them out, fill up the jar with fresh rose leaves, cover them, and let them stand again for at least twenty-four hours; drain them out again, and in like manner fill up the jar the third and fourth time. Then strain and bottle it.”
The “it” in question is of course the brandy, not the rose leaves. The size of the container will be determined by how much rose brandy you wish to make, not to mention the ready availability of fresh, non-pesticide or -pollutant laden rose petals and your patience in petal plucking. Cheap wild roses will be better for this (not to mention more historically accurate) than modern day hybrid tea varieties, which have been bred for appearance and long shelf life rather than their fragrance-producing properties.
Given the number of pounds of ingredients, and the specified number of baking pans to be used (one), this is going to be a very tricky cake to fit into a modern oven. How it was accomplished with 19th century baking technology would require the resources of a well-restored living-history farm or house of the period to explain, but here at least is the recipe with which you can start the process.