Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pound cake

I have so many wonderful memories involving my family and food. One that always comes to mind is being in the kitchen with my mother as she cooked. A very skilled cook, my mom was strong with a range of dishes -- from savory ones to desserts. A favorite in our household was pound cake. Mommy always had homemade pound cake on the sideboard. I remember her inviting her colleagues over after work for a slice of rich, moist pound cake and tea-- both served on proper bone china, of course. Often, the pound cake was accompanied by our homemade vanilla ice cream, or maybe peaches that we canned ourselves during the summer. What a delightful after-work treat!

The name of this classic dessert derives from the quantities of key ingredients used to make it-- flour, butter, and sugar. And let's not forget all the eggs that go into it. My mother taught me that true pound cake does not use milk at all. The eggs and butter do the work. Of course, there are many recipes that use the name "pound cake" and list milk as an ingredient.

I admit to being a purist -- I tend to stay away from those. I've made them plenty of times in the past and they were perfectly fine. But I want the real McCoy. And there is something really special about all those eggs and butter combining to produce a pale yellow, nicely textured piece of cake, with a sweet outer layer that almost forms a crust.

The leavening agent for this cake is the beaten egg whites. Make sure that you use a metal bowl that is clean and dry for beating them. Also, a pinch of cream of tartar helps the egg whites form stiff peaks. I recommend folding half the egg whites in and then gently mixing the rest in. You want to maintain the volume.

Some bakers prefer to use vanilla extract, or -- if you're in the South -- bourbon or brandy as flavoring. I've made pound cakes with vanilla extract, bourbon or brandy and have enjoyed all those variations. If you choose to add liquor, add about 2 tablespoons. If you decide on vanilla extract, use 2 teaspoons. You need that much because of the quantity of the other ingredients. Of course, this cake is so flavorful that you can forego the bourbon (or brandy) and vanilla extract and still come out with a dessert that could be served as the end of any meal.


Pound Cake

1 lb butter
1 lb sugar
1 lb flour
10 whole eggs (separated)
2 tablespoons brandy (or 2tsp. of vanilla extract)


Prep Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 1 1/2 hrs

1. Cream butter and sugar.
2. Add egg yolks, beat until thick and lemon colored.
3. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
4. Add egg whites, flour, and bourbon/brandy/vanilla extract to egg yolk/sugar mixture.
5. Beat vigorously for 5 minutes.
6. Bake in deep, buttered and floured cak pan at 350 degrees for 75 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

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