Monday, April 19, 2010

His Favorite Cake

I guess if I'm going to be all "vintage-inspired" and "retro", I might as well try to cook that way too. So for Mr. B's birthday, I decided to bite the bullet and bake. I don't do well with baking. It's too scientific, too exact. I'd rather cook and "season to taste"! But not only did I decide to bake, I decided to make his grandmother's pound cake. Oh dear. It's just a cake, so it shouldn't be a big deal, but for one thing it was his birthday. If the cake didn't turn out, then I'd have to put a candle in...well, since we don't have a whole lot of sweets in the house, I would have had to put a candle in either a Girl Scout cookie or his shrimp and grits. Less than festive, for sure! The other thing that makes me so ticked off if something doesn't turn out is the fact that I've wasted a ton of ingredients. And this cake uses a good bit from the ol' staple shelf. But since I didn't have anything else to serve him as a birthday dessert and since Strossners is closed on Sundays, I made the cake.

First let me share the original wording from the collection of family recipes:

Edith's Pound Cake

3 cups sifted plain flour
6 eggs
3 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
1/4 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream

Put shortening, eggs, and sugar in the large bowl of the mixer. Turn on high and let cream while preparing pans. Sift dry ingredients together. Creamed mixture is supposed to be light and fluffy. Cream for approximately 10 minutes or more. Add sifted dry ingredients by hand, 1/3 of the flour, mix well, 1/2 of the sour cream, 1/3 flour, 1/2 sour cream, and the last of the flour. Always begin and end with flour. Put into a greased 10" tub cake pan. Bake at 325 for approximately 1 hour 10 minutes in the middle rack of the oven. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake in order to keep the cake from sticking to the edge of the pan. Remove from pan. Place on cake rack to cool.

After this, there are very specific instructions for preparing a loose bottom tube pan, but unless you really need this info, I'm going to skip it. I'm using a bundt pan...I've seen the loose bottom tube pan. No thank you!

So anyway, that's the magic recipe that the Husband loves. I don't blame him. It's the quintessential southern dessert. It's good plain, it's good with fruit and cream. It reminds me of magnolia blooms and summer afternoons spent swimming for hours. You know that hunger you get after's like none other. And my treat was always pound cake. It reminds JMom of snow days. As a teacher, my grandmother would make pound cake on those random "day off" snow days. It reminds Hubster of his grandmother...of standing in the kitchen with her, learning the measurements, the tricks, and the stuff to NOT do (such as run like a maniac thorough the kitchen causing the cake that emptied my stocked pantry to fall. I dare a child to run in the house while this cake and it's 6 cups of dry ingredients and 6 eggs are in the oven. Big fat Time Out waiting to happen!). Here's what the recipe looks like when you really make it...

Cream the eggs, shortening, and sugar. With a Kitchenaid, I put it on 4, and let it go for about 10 minutes. Like I said, I used a regular ol' bundt pan, and I sprayed it with Baker's Joy. I wasn't about to fool with the pan instructions for the scary loose bottom tube pan. Instead I used that time to let Homey sift the flour. See how she does it?
Just pour some flour into that sifter thingy, then turn the crank. She's a pro! From that delicate floury pile, carefully measure out your 3 cups. Don't get rammy! Don't go packing and compacting, just spoon the fluffy flour into a measuring cup, delicately even it off, then call it a done day. Oh, but we have more to do. With your 3 cups of sifted flour measured out, add your baking soda and salt. Then throw all that back into the thingy and sift it again. Now we should be about ready.

Homey said "My ahrms are ti-yerd. Can you do dis?" So I took over the last of the sifting, and she checked on the progress of the mixer. When you hear this: "Oh! It's a very vyoo-full cullah lellow!", you'll know that "it's a very beautiful color yellow" and therefore ready for dry ingredients. It should be very pastel yellow at this point.

Start alternating the dry ingredients and the sour cream, as indicated in the original recipe. Now, I did not do this by hand. Hubby says that he never did it by hand either. So I just turned the mixer on the lowest setting, and let it mix literally just until combined. Once it's all incorporated, pour your batter in to the pan.
Pop that sucker in the oven, then as previously mentioned, dare Homey to jump around while that cake is in the oven. Bribe her with a beater:I checked this cake after an hour and 10 minutes. The "knife test" told me it wasn't done. Five more minutes in the oven. There was still a little too much clinging to the knife, so back in for 3 minutes. That did it. Finished! Let it cool in the pan for about 20-30 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it up. Flip it onto a wire rack to cool.

The true test came when Mr. B got home. It's nerve wracking to wait to find out if the recipe came out as grandma intended! His only comment was that the cake could have been "sadder". Now, the way I understand it, people generally try to avoid what's known as a "sad streak" in cakes. Ironically, it very often becomes the favorite part of the cake. The sad streak is a portion of the cake that is slightly gummy and under baked. It can happen because the temperature in the oven isn't high enough, because there is too much butter/shortening or sugar in the recipe, or because the cake is jarred while baking (which is why we threaten the small children to run through the house like maniacs while a cake is in the oven). Well, at first my cake appeared to be free of the sad streak. Making Mr. B, well, sad. But as I kept slicing I noticed some sadness appearing! Check out the difference in these 2 slices of cake. One much more sad (and ugly!) than the other.

So all in all, I would call this recipe a success. I'm going to have to go back through the family cookbook to see what else can spike my anxiety...I bet there's tons of good stuff in there!


  1. ok, where do I start? The picture you posted at the top of this makes me wonder if you have an apron just like it. I LOVE aprons, but never have a real reason to wear one, as I don't really do any cooking or baking. Moving on...any recipe for POUND CAKE from a woman named EDITH, I'm totally down with trying. So now I'm up to four recipes (just from you) that I need to attempt to make. May I just add that all four are going to destroy my diet! I love your sugar bowl and now that I think about it the cake platter caught my eye too.

  2. You did good. Maw Maw would be proud! You can't really make it sad in a bundt pan because then it would never come out of the pan but I'm with Kevin on that sad part.

  3. I'm proud of you for even trying to make her pound cake! I tried once and it was a mess so I have never used her recipe again. I remember that she always made 2 at a time. I promise that the loose-bottom pan is real easy though!