Not Sugar Plums, Just Pound Cake

19 Dec

by Charla L. Draper

‘Tis the season, and growing up it was more about the aroma from the kitchen than the twinkling lights.  Our house always smelled of scratch baking and during the holidays it was intense. My grandmother, Gonga could really cook and she baked —spicy gingerbread, fluffy yeast rolls, and her legendary buttery, velvet-like pound cake with an essence lemon.     

When I think about my food heritage and the recipes that I’m so fond of, I know they started in the kitchen with Gonga.  Spending time with the family members who hold the recipe secrets is the only way to learn how those highly favored family dishes are really made.  They may write something down, but to discover the secrets of how the ingredients come together, you’ve got to be in the kitchen with the cook.   There is one in every family, but too often, the culinary legacy is lost, because folks didn’t have time to make it or bake it with Auntie, Big Mama, or Grandma.

 I’m one of the lucky ones, our family was multigenerational before it was an “in” term. Gonga lived with us and there were plenty of days I spent in the kitchen with her.  I learned lots of recipes, but one that Mom and I use regularly is The Pound Cake.  The holidays always meant plenty of pound cake for the family and folks who bought cakes from Gonga.  These days the recipe is definitely one we don’t share, but I’ve learned a few tips along the way that I’ve shared in some of my cooking classes.  Here’s a pound cake and baking tips to help you create food memories too. 

Six Tips for Successful Baking

1.     Read the recipe first.

2.     Measure out all the ingredients needed before starting.

3.     Spoon dry ingredients into measuring cups; level excess off.

4.      Use large eggs.

5.     Allow measured ingredients to come to room temperature.

6.     Prepare baking pans as directed before starting the recipe.

A squeeze of fresh orange juice flavors classic pound cake.

   Orange Pound Cake

    1 lb. powdered sugar 

    1 lb. butter

     6 large eggs

     3 cups sifted all-purpose flour 

     1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon orange juice

2 teaspoons orange zest 

Preheat oven to 3250 F.

In large bowl with electric mixer (preferably a standing electric mixer) beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until yellow disappears after each addition.  Gradually add sifted flour; mix well.  Blend in vanilla, orange juice, and orange zest.  Spoon cake batter into greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan.  Bake at 325o 1 hour and 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake come s out clean and cake starts to pull away from sides of pan.  Cool 10 to 15 minutes, remove from pan.  Cool completely.

Orange Glaze (optional):

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 to 2 Tbsp. orange juice

In small bowl, add orange juice, 1 Tablespoon at a time to powdered sugar, mixing until smooth and desired consistency.  Drizzle glaze over cooled cake. 

YIELD: Approx. 16 servings





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