Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pound Cake

Sara Lee. Shame on you. For convincing the Western world that that block with your name on it in the freezer section of the grocery store is "Pound Cake". How did you do it? Did you fund a campaign to make it seem as though pound cake is difficult to make? Well, I'm onto you.

I suppose in the days before electric mixers, this would, indeed, have been difficult to make.

To Make a Pound Cake

Take a pound of butter, beat it in an earthen pan, with your hand one way, till it is like a fine thick cream; then have ready twelve eggs, but half the whites, beat them well, and beat them up with the butter, a pound of flour beat in it, and a pound of sugar, and a few caraways; beat it all well together for an hour with your hand, or a great wooden spoon. Butter a pan, and put it in and bake it an hour in a quick oven.

--Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1747*

You did notice that said to beat it all together "for an hour with your hand", right?! Fortunately, I am a liberated and MIXERated woman, so this was one of the easiest cakes I've ever made.

A pound of butter

A pound of sugar

(No, the color isn't off in this photo, that's organic sugar. Which I'm still trying to get used to using. It seems to clump a little more than regular sugar. I've noticed the same tendency in organic powdered sugar. It clumps so much it requires sifting in order to be usable at all.)

Add a pound of eggs (8 large, supposedly, I didn't weigh them myself, I probably should have), a pound of flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. vanilla. And you have

Beautiful batter. I had read here and there that the old-fashioned pound cake recipe (which doesn't include baking powder) doesn't rise sufficiently and would end up as a dense brick. That wasn't my experience at all. Mine rose very nicely.

And came out with a crunchy crusty outside and tender inside.

If I'm being honest, it's a teensy bit dry. I think I may have overcooked it -->this<-- much. It seemed gooey when I first tested its doneness. So gooey, that I set the timer for another 10 minutes. 2 minutes probably would have done the trick. However, I'm already thinking of a myriad of things to put on top that will moisten the cake: ice cream, whipped cream, a splash of coconut rum, mashed berries. The mind boggles. It's a perfect base for adding whatever a person likes. And it's also lovely by itself. It is buttery and yes, rich, but not dense or heavy. It tastes fresh and flavorful (and none of the flavors are "freezer" or "aluminum pan").
TGIP Rating--Pound Cake--KEEPER--This old-fashioned recipe doesn't need any modernizing, IMO (but I do need to watch the cooking time).

Next up: Let's see...pie, bread, cake...I think I'll try a new take on an old-fashioned cookie. A recipe from Baked, which I received as a Christmas present. Oatmeal Cherry Nut Cookies.

*from On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee


S.Wells said...

cool blog! I will be back!

Michelle said...

Looks delicious! I'm terrible, I usually just buy Sara Lee! :)

Mark Fossen said...

I loved the Pound Cake. It was flavorful, but simple and comforting. The kind of thing that were I a midnight snacker I'd snack on. A good calming, tasty treat.