I finally did it! I baked my first pound cake!! Can you believe I had never made a pound cake before this? In my defense, pound cake is decidedly a southern thing. Growing up in Vermont, we just didn't bake pound cakes. The only pound cake I had been exposed to prior to moving south was the Sara Lee loaf kind you buy in the freezer section at the grocery store. Now that I live in North Carolina, pound cake is everywhere, and in so many wonderful flavors. Oh, homemade is sooooo much better than that frozen stuff!
I'll admit I was very nervous, possibly even a little bit scared, to make my first pound cake. As I said before, I have absolutely zero background in baking this kind of cake. Add to that the fact that my mother-in-law is pretty much a pound cake baking goddess. You can be almost guaranteed that when you walk into her house, there's a pound cake in the cake cupboard. Yep, she makes it so much there's a cake cupboard where it's kept. Now if that's not intimidating, I don't know what is.
And there you have it - fear. Fear of the cake. But I desperately wanted to overcome this fear.
So, after eight years of knowing my husband and eating his mother's wonderfully amazing pound cake, I decided to give her recipe a whirl myself. Trying to recall all the tips and tricks she told me, I set out on my journey. Doubts still ran through my head - What if I don't get the batter mixed just right? What if it gets a streak in it? (I've learned that this is when it doesn't bake evenly, creating basically an unbaked "streak" through the cake.) What if ... and apparently this is one of the worst and most frequent pound cake mishaps ... it won't come out of the pan? What if it bakes up ugly?? But I pressed on ...
After combining all my ingredients and beating them for the full 15 minutes called for in the recipe, I poured my beautiful pale yellow, smooth, creamy batter into my pan. I'm a sucker for batter, so of course I tasted it at this point. Already yummy!
But when my cake came out of the oven, one of my fears had come to be - the top of the cake baked up ugly, and one part of it was slumped down a little. Fortunately, it settled down a tiny bit as it cooled - but it still certainly wasn't the prettiest cake around. This made me very worried to cut into it.
|Not-so-beautiful baked top|
As I do with most of my baked goods, I gave the majority of the cake away. As I was packaging up my little cake care packages, I asked Mark if he wanted me to save him a few slices. He said no - so I asked, "Are you sure?" He said, "Yes, I'm sure." I admit, I was surprised. So, I decided to save just one slice for me to have the next day. Here it is - all by itself on the cake plate:
|One lonely little piece of pound cake|
Here's what the cake plate looked like the next morning when I came down for breakfast:
|Someone stole the pound cake!|
Compliments of my mother-in-law, here is the recipe for this classic pound cake. Eat it plain, or with berries or whipped cream (or both!) on top. Even if it bakes up ugly, it will still taste delicious.
Classic Pound Cake
Source: My Mother-in-Law
3 c. sugar
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter
2 T. Crisco shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. milk (my mother-in-law and I use 2% milk)
Cream the sugar, butter, and Crisco. Add eggs and vanilla; beat with an electric mixer about 10-15 minutes. Combine the flour and baking powder. Add flour mixture and milk, alternately, to the creamed sugar and eggs mixture. Pour batter into a tube pan that has been generously sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool about a 1/2 an hour in the pan; remove cake from pan.