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Mother asked for a cake for Valentine's Day, but not just any cake. Instead of the family recipe pound cake that I made her for her birthday, she wanted the Classic Southern Pound Cake from Southern Living magazine.
I've been baking pound cakes for years. This shouldn't be so hard, I thought. That was my first mistake.
Pro Tip: When making a cake, make sure you use the right ingredients.
We have two identical, large yellow Tupperware containers, and they both have flour in them. One of them was the right one. I used the other.
They aren't the only flour containers in our pantry. The bread flour is in a third yellow Tupperware container, but that one is smaller. The cake flour — necessary for sponge cakes — is in a transparent container with its box top. Therefore it's only the containers for the self-rising and the all-purpose flours that look identical. One of these days, I'll remember to label them.
Anyway. As they say, if at first you add the wrong flour, try, try again.
I hate to admit it, but it really might be the best tasting pound cake I've ever made. Totally worth the trouble.
You're welcome, Mom.
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Whoops. Skipped a day there, didn't I? It wasn't a mistake. I just didn't feel like turning on my computer and blogging after baking a yellow cake from scratch for my father's birthday.
Of course the cake wasn't really the hard part. No, that was the boiled icing. My maternal great-grandmother used to be a baker of some local renown, and her recipies, like all ancient texts, are something of an enigma to decipher. However, after some trial and error over the years (plus a quick review of pertinent information in The Joy of Cooking and a tabbing through Google for "boiled chocolate icing"), I've got the icing down pretty good.
- 3 c sugar
- 1 c milk
- 1 stick butter
- 2 sq bitter chocolate
- 1 T Karo syrup
Stir on high until it boils, turn down and cook to 230° or until it forms a soft ball in water. Let it cool about 20° before stirring. Add vanilla (1t), beat until it doesn't go back into itself too quickly. Put onto cake. Cools quickly after beginning to ice.
Momo wasn't kidding. If you attempt this yourself, know that you have maybe a minute (or maybe two, tops!) of working time to spread that icing. Once it leaves the heat, it starts forming a hard, delicious shell of chocolate.
Bon appetite, Dad.
(Note that this was a food exchange: I made my great-grandmother's cake, and he made his mother's grape leaves. The cake might have been a lot of work, but I'm pretty sure I came out ahead in the deal.)
No. Just no.
This is a fine example of why people don't like new traditions. The last thing my Easter needs is something that looks like it tastes like ass.
March 4 is National Pound Cake Day. I have no idea why. I asked the Internet, and it just shrugged. It seems that mankind was clever enough to build the Internet into most comprehensive information aggregator in human history, but no one has figured out how to add footnotes to it yet.
As for the following pound cake recipe, I'm not giving away my secret family recipe to the world (because really not that many people read my blog), I'm putting it somewhere I'll find it when I need it.
1. Mix 1/2 pound butter (room temperature) and 1-2/3 cups of sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes.
2. Mix in 5 whole, large eggs one at a time.
3. Slowly (!) add 2 cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract.
5. Pour mix into a greased & floured tube cake pan and bake for 1 hour at 350°.
6. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes; then remove cake directly onto rack until cool.
I'd mark that step 7 is "eat it," but I guess that part is really optional. Delicious!
Today is my birthday. (Yes, thank you.)
I asked my mother for a picture of one of the Batman cakes that I had when I was a wee lad so that I could run a Batman-related birthday item today. After a few minutes of rummaging through a dozen photo albums apparently full of dog pictures, she shrugged and said, "I guess I didn't keep any of your baby pictures. And I don't love you." (I may be paraphrasing.)
Faced with the prospect of being unable to prove that I once had a Batman cake and therefore potentially being the object of ridicule when I suggest otherwise, I decided to recreate my childhood. I'm pretty sure this is an exact recreation:
I for one think I've aged pretty well.
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