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Richard in Cincy

The Ubiquitous Pound Cake.

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Joined: Dec 12, 2005

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Posted to Thread #5631 at 10:01 pm on Feb 6, 2007

I had always passed on this, the <yawn> Pound Cake. Yet another pound cake that had nothing to do with traditional pound cake (sour cream! milk! Whatever!). That was until Ernie posted her old southern recipe: a pound each of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs: the reason it was called POUND cake. It really works. I now measure a pound of each ingredient, flavor it, and wait for the swoons. My neighbor dies when I come calling with pound cake (her favorite cake).

Found this in the White House Family Cookbook by chef Henry Haller during the Carter administration.

Old-Fashioned Southern Pound Cake

President Carter was of English descent, so his ancestors may have served their family and guests pound cake made the traditional way. Originally prepared with a pound each of butter sugar, flour, and eggs, the dense, extra-rich cake was popular in the Old World in the eighteenth century. During the 1830s, the colonists (RinC: sic!!!!!!!!!!) created their own New World version with an "Indian Pound Cake" made from the cornmeal that was so readily available at that time. By the turn of the century, the English-style pound cake had grown more popular in America, and the 1887 edition of the "White House Cook Book" provided the basic recipe for "Plain Pound Cake":

Beat to a cream one pound of butter with one pound of sugar; after mixing well with the beaten yolks of twelve eggs, add one grated nutmeg, one glass of wine, one glass of rose water. Then stir in one pound of sifted flour and the well-beaten whites of the eggs. Bake a nice light brown.

While serving as the White House hostess for President Thomas Jeffesron, Dolley Madison often offered pound cake to visitors at tea time. Some 175 years later (in 1987), pound cake was still being served to White House guests. The recipe favored by the Carters yields a plan, old-fashioned southern loaf cake, but the proportions for the basic ingredients are less uniform than originally required and the results are not quite as heavy and rich.

During their years in the White House, the Carters served pound cake a number of times, both for family meals when guests were in attendance and at special functions and parties. The Carters' Old-fashioned Pound Cake was usually served with fresh fruit in season, such as strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. On certain occasions, fresh whipped-cream was served as well. A properly prepared pound cake is delicious just plain, the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of coffee of cafe au lait.

Old-fashioned pound cake proved to be a popular dessert on the Carters' picnic menus. The recipe can be easily adapted for serving to large-scale parties as well as family-size groups.

Makes 2 loaves.

(Recipe for Half) Pound Cake

1/2 pound butter
1 1/4 cups sugar (RinC: or 1/2 pound)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 cups cake flour, sifted (RinC: or 1/2 pound)
5 eggs (RinC: or 1/2 pound)

Preheat oven to 300 F. Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; dust lighty with flour.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar (RinC: Do this a LONG time until quite fluffy). Mix in vanilla and lemon rind.

Gradually add flour, blending well (RinC: fold in the flour gently so you don't deflate the mix).

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; continue mixing until batter is smooth (RinC: I add the eggs first, then fold in the flour as instructed in the original 18th century recipe--I let it rip for at least 15 minutes to get as much air incorporated as possible--very important.)

Dived batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake on lower shelf of preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. A toothpick inserted near the centers should come out clean.

Turn out cakes to cool on wire racks before slicing. Serve plain, toasted (the amazing treat for breakfast slathered with strawberry jam), or with fresh berries and whipped cream. Cake will remain fresh for weeks if wrapped airtight and refrigerated.


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