Monday, October 25, 2010

Genuine Pound Cake for 1

My grandmother's satisfying and simple life can probably best be represented by the simplicity of her delicious Pound Cake. Pound cake = 1 pound of each of its 4 basic ingredients (flour, eggs, sugar, butter). Each ingredient is blended BY HAND in the proper order, and the total mixture beaten 100 strokes by hand before pouring it into the cake pan.

I've always remembered this recipe in part because it's called Pound cake (duh!), and in part because grandma let me lick the generously thick glops of batter left in the crevices at the bottom of the bowl and not quite dripping from the spoon once she put the cake pan into the oven. But I could never remember how long to cook it, and at what temperature. So a while back I went online to find comparable recipes to see the particulars like whether the oven should be preheated, etc.

One site that's obviously proud of its old-fashioned southern cooking had user-submitted pound cake recipes listing up to 15 different ingredients varying in complexity and stylish uniqueness. I couldn't help but chuckle to see these sorts of recipes submitted by users like "Margaret in PA" or "Nancy in Michigan." Well that explains it. Those liberal yanks never could leave well enough alone and always, ALWAYS make things so much more complicated than they should be. When you start adding 2 tablespoons of this and a quarter cup of that, well you're not making POUND CAKE anymore, are you? So stop trying to hijack perfection.

You want real honest to goodness genuine pound cake the way God invented it?
Here we go, in order:

1 lb butter (4 sticks)
1 lb sugar (4 cups)
1 lb eggs (10)
1 lb regular flour (4 cups)

Soften butter by either leaving it on the counter for a couple hours, or cutting it into square chunks and microwaving it for 30 secs (another 30 seconds if necessary, then another 30 secs if necessary, but don't cook it!).

Add the sugar and mix until smooth and creamy.

Add 1 egg and mix til the egg is well blended with the batter.
Add next egg and mix.
One at a time until all 10 eggs are added.

Add flour, a cup at a time, and mix about 20 strokes by hand. Then add another cup of flour and mix, and on like this til all the flour is added.

Now, beat the mixture by hand for 100 strokes. Pour into ungreased cake pan and place on center rack in a COLD oven.

Turn oven to 325 and bake +/- 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check doneness with a toothpick then let cool for about 5-10 minutes before removing from pan.

Then dig in if you're so inclined.

Since this post is intended to show you how to make a genuine old fashioned pound cake suitable for just 1 person on the fly (treat yourself!), it should be as easy as pie for even the most dense wannabe cooks to figure out how to make a "quarter pound cake."

Oh, and don't lick the bowl unless you know first hand exactly where your eggs came from.