Just the mention of my favorite cake and I’m ready for a piece. Not a huge fan of icing or frosting, my traditional birthday cake is always a pound cake, plain and simple. Sour cream, cream cheese, chocolate, fruit flavored and even rum pound cakes abound in the culinary world.
As a fan of most all of these very simple, very elegant, and VERY delicious cakes, the plain ol’ pound cake or whipping cream pound cake just might be my favorite... sour cream and cream cheese respectively in the top three. Mama made this one as is her custom for my birthday...or any other time I pester her enough so she’ll cave in a make me one! The basis is the same. A simple cream (sour, whipping, or cream cheese) that combines with flour, butter, and sugar to make the perfect consistency of cake – augmented by a note of pure vanilla.
Even a scraping of vanilla bean adds the slightest of flavor and visual delight to the cake and whipped cream dollop. Though, for my first birthday, I managed to actually sit in a bakery cake piled and piped with sugary icing and eat my way out of the Sesame Street cake; yet, I developed a love for the goodness that is simply pound cake. Flavor, yes, a major factor, but also for versatility is why this cake is so dear to my heart.
As a June baby and Georgia boy, peaches are de rigueur for this time of year. And what better way to enjoy a fresh peach than with a dab of whipped cream, a sprig of Kentucky Colonel Mint and a slice of pound cake? The theme continues as plums, strawberries, and blueberries wax and wane throughout the season. Apples, applesauce, and pears are perfect with pound cake in the fall, as are pecans that can dress up the cake in late autumn and into winter. The neutrality of this cake is what truly endears the dessert (or breakfast or snack) to my heart. The elegance that is a simple flavor combined with seasonal offerings – that is a winner in my book.
Make and bake yourself and your family a pound cake and find out for yourself why this Southern staple is so – plus, there is nothing better than a warm-from-the-oven pound cake with a quick swab of butter...oh my my!
Mama’s Pound cake (Basic Whipping Cream Pound cake)
***Cook’s note…Mama sometimes follows a series of pound cake recipes from a wonderful cookbook that is a perennial favorite in Perry, Mrs. Nelle Tuggle Shelton’s cookbook, Treasures from Home. Mama has made pound cakes so often through the years that her recipe can vary, and each pound cake is often a new, delicious creation! Sour cream or cream cheese makes a super pound cake, but one will need to follow those type cake recipes...it’s not a simple substitution for whipping cream. Oh the chemistry of baking!
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 stick of butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of Crisco
3 cups of plain flour
1/2 pint of whipping cream
Cream the shortenings (butter and Crisco) with the sugar until they are fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating each egg well into the batter.
Sift the flour and begin alternately adding it with the cream into the batter...start with flour and end with flour.
Add the vanilla.
Pour the batter into a buttered and floured tube or bunt pan and bake at 300 for one hour and fifteen minutes in a COLD oven…no pre-heating. Cook for another fifteen minutes at 325 to brown the top or until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes…turn upside down onto a plate…use another plate to turn it back up…the actual top of a pound cake can be a debate…I like the top that was the top in the oven. Enjoy!
James T. Farmer III was born and raised in Georgia, where he continues to live and work as a landscape designer. He shares his love of food, flowers and photography on his blog All Things Farmer.
Christmas in New York
by Gary Klein