Back to Basics: Pound Cake

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Grammies.  My siblings, cousins and I interchangeably called her that, Grams or Gramma Lu.  She was known for her sternness, her stylish church hats and admired for her ability to bake well.  So it was with no surprise to witness my Aunty speak of this skill in the eulogy for her mother’s burial service.  “My mudda, huh, she coulda cook and bake ah cake!  When it was time for cake sale everybody every-body in school and church would ask, am… Mrs. Martin eh baking cake?”

As funny as it sounded it brought back memories that made it hard to hold back my tears sitting in the front pew of the church back in 2010 while Aunty-Ann so passionately spoke of my Gram’s life.  I was reminded of times she allowed me to watch her bake cakes in her wooden framed kitchen.  With walls and cabinets painted in mint green oil paint and its single window made fancy with a floral valance that when opened your view of bamboo patches, fruit, coconut and mahogany tress were endless.  Ma is not much of baker, so whenever I got the chance to sit quietly and watch Grammies bake I did that.  With memorized recipes, her cakes were made with much concentration and effort.  Perhaps that is why she moved so easily around the kitchen table from fridge to stove with no desire for an audience.  As she got older in age, she’d sit at the kitchen table, glass mixing bowl in one hand, held sturdy between her small thighs and a white hand mixer in the next hand to cream butter and sugar.  Every so often the lime peel used religiously back then to cut the ‘fresh’ of the eggs appeared at the front of the glass bowl as the whisks rapidly made circular movements.

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Her kitchen sure as hell didn’t resemble any American commercial of flour flying in the air, ingredients being spilled and licking of spoons or spatulas of left over cake batter.  She’s been preparing mice en place way before its main stream popularity.  I dare not ask to assist or say “what is that?” she gave me a look that meant it was time to hightail outta there and go play.

While her black, fruit or sponge cakes rose in the oven and released the sweetest scent that could be inhaled on other side of yard where the big plum tree stood, no one was allowed to go into the kitchen, for fears of her cakes falling.

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You’d think with time spent in school enjoying baking modules.  The recreational reading of baking cookbooks and experimenting with recipes.  Working in a restaurant for over two years and spending roughly six months in the pastry department I would be comfortable with it right.  Negative, baking is way more structured than cooking.  Equally comforting but structured.  And if you know me I have a hard time sticking to the script.  At home, I’m super comfortable baking scones, biscuits, bakes, the occasional currant roll and chocolate cake and my favorite pound cake.

For easy summer desserts, all I need is buttery, not too sweet pound cake and fruit.  Balsamic macerated strawberries with mint or grilled peaches with brown sugar and rum – Yes!  The name suggest its measurements: one pound each of cake or all-purpose flour, unsalted butter and granulated sugar.  It’s the easiest cake I can make to impress my friends or when I want to have a cheat day or cheat weekend, rather.

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Notes
– Pound cake recipes found on-line never work out for me.  The ratios seem off whenever I made those recipes.  The below is my basic pound cake recipe.
– I have to cut a traditional pound cake recipe in half when I bake at home, I just don’t need that amount of cake in my life. LoL
– Leftover strawberries and raspberries were added to the cake batter.
– I sift all the dry ingredients.
– All ingredients should be at room temperature.

1 stick of unsalted sweet cream butter
1 cup of sugar
2 extra large eggs
3 tsp of vanilla extract
1 ½ cup of all-purpose flour
1 tsp of baking powder
A pinch of salt
½ cup of sour cream
½ cup of whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour a 6-cup loaf pan; set aside.
Stir the milk and sour cream together; set aside.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; add vanilla and salt.
With mixer on low, alternate between adding flour and milk mixture beating just until combined (do not over mix).
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean about an hour.
Let cool in pan 15 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and turn upright to cool.

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