A few years ago, my mother, ever the family historian, made a three-ring binder of family recipes. These recipes were mostly her own, collected from church cookbooks, St. Louis society books, and contributions from family or friends. She even included a series of recipes from a cooking school weekend she attended in Italy in the late 70’s. The point is that food, recipes and cooking together was something like that for our family. My grandmother was an accomplished cook in her own right, and this pound cake recipe has never failed. They even passed it on to me, as these things should be, on a three-by-five card in their distinctive handwriting. I’ve made a couple of tweaks over the years, but the heart is the same. It is the best cake you have ever tasted.
And if I may offer a suggestion. … It’s perfect as-is, but it’s even better sliced and pan-seared with a knob of butter until golden brown. Serve that with a dollop of vanilla and whatever type of syrup you choose, and it just doesn’t get any better.
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks, salted please, and hold onto the butter wrapper, which you’ll use later)
3 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of good whiskey (traditionalists would use vanilla I guess, and less, but why?)
6 eggs, separated
3 cups of cake flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
A few notes: As you can see, I use whiskey instead of vanilla. Feel free to use vanilla. I like salty butter on my baked goods. Recipes usually tell you to use without salt. Do not do that. Cake flour is different than all-purpose. Use cake flour.
When this bakes you will notice that the top has a crunchy, crispy top which is a little unusual for pound cake, but it’s the best part. Just don’t be alarmed if you’re familiar with what biscuits typically look like.
Beat butter and sugar. The mixture clears up and almost doubles in volume. This is best done in a stand mixer, but a hand mixer will work just fine.
Add the whiskey and then the egg yolks (remember folks, we separate the eggs, keep the whites) one at a time. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, and in another, mix together the buttermilk and sour cream.
Then slowly add the dry ingredients and buttermilk and sour cream to the creamed sugar-egg mixture, alternating until just combined. Set aside.
Take the remaining egg whites and beat until stiff. I like to add a few tablespoons of sugar to help stabilize the whites, but it’s not necessary. Once they’re nicely stiff and a little shiny, slowly add them to the cake mix by gently folding them in. Work from the bottom and fold over the whites. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but mostly mixed. You may still see a white stripe here or there; This is not a problem.
Remember the butter wrapper? Yes, so now you can use it. Wipe the inside of a loaf pan with it, and if you need to add a little more butter to the pan, the wrapper is still a good way to rub it all over and in the corners, without getting your fingers greasy.
Pour the cake mix into the buttered pan and bake at 350 degrees. It takes a while if memory serves, and timing is always tricky – different stoves, different times – so keep an eye out. Set a timer for 30 minutes. Check it out, try it out, and adjust accordingly. I believe in you; you got it.
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