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Monday, March 5, 2012

Cake By the Pound

Golden, moist, and delicious

Don't be fooled.  Use 5 Eggs!

Pound cake goes way back in my family, to when we had a few less pounds to worry about. No wonder we love it.  It’s got all the good stuff: heaps of sugar, butter, flour, milk, and eggs.  Well, as they say, everything in moderation, but in the case of the most delicious pound cake you’ve ever tasted, you have to moderate your quest for moderation.  Either that, or do what we do.  Invite friends over and let them slather the calories down their own greedy throats.  I gave mine to a ton of friends, and both of them gobbled it right up.
A bit of history.  It was way, way back in the 1700’s when Dawg Pound, a delirious baker from Halfbakeshire, and his first wife, Wright Ata Pound, having tired of producing meat and potato pies for the undernourished, decided to deliver a hammer blow to those slight of waist and lacking in bulk.  The recipe they threw together called for a pound each of butter, flour, eggs, and sugar.  Thus the Pound Cake was born.  It was not until centuries later that a foursome of doctors, quite by accident, discovered the real advantage of pound cake.  It raises cholesterol, thus necessitating the consumption of copious quantities of red wine! Oh, what a happy day that was.  Church bells rang!  People danced in the streets.  Thus began the quaint custom of ‘pounding down’ a few.
This recipe cuts considerably the traditional quantities of  a pound of this and a pound of that, but nothing is lost and a lot is gained.  If you’re used to pound cake that is dry and flavorless, you’re in for a culinary rebirth.  This one is so rich and moist you’ll sneak back in the kitchen late at night, when calories don’t count.

Pound Cake

3 Sticks of butter, or two sticks of butter and half a cup of shortening
(Those substituting margarine will be bound over to the authorities.)
3 Cups of sugar (Diet chemical users, please just shoot yourselves now)
5 Eggs (I use ‘free range’ eggs, spawned by chickens training for a marathon.)
3 Cups of flour (No, I don’t grind my own, but I grind my teeth at the question.)
 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (Aluminum free, natch!  We ain’t makin’ cars!)
1 Cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon extract  (only if you’re a timid mouse, governed by indecision and fear of failure;  otherwise use a Tablespoon of freshly grated lemon rind.)

Pre-heat oven to 325ºF or 165º C.

Cream the butter (or butter and shortening), add the sugar and beat until they are combined.  (I use my food processor to this point, then switch to hand mixing for a less fluffy consistency.)  Add the eggs one at a time, while continuing to beat the mixture.  Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Add the flour and the milk, a portion at a time, to the bowl of butter, sugar, and eggs.  Mix until everything is combined.  Add the flavorings and beat again.
Pour the batter into two, well greased loaf pans and bake for 1 1/4 hours to 1 1/2 hours.  Test occasionally by inserting a knife.  When the knife comes out clean, the cakes are done.
Note:  If the cakes are browning too fast, cover with a sheet of aluminum foil.

There are various ways to serve pound cake, other than slicing and slamming it down freestyle.  A friend’s mother likes to butter and toast the slices and serve them with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top.  Sliced, sugared, strawberries on top, is another good way.  I eat my slice plain, with a cup of milk, because I'm a good boy and that’s the way my mother taught me..
There are also many variations of the cake itself.  I sometimes add nuts.  Pecans, or toasted almond slivers work well.  The cake may also be dusted with powdered sugar.
However you make it and serve it, your pound cake is going to make people view you in a new light.  No longer will you be the just another dog in the pack.  You’ll be the leader of the pound.  Whoops, gotta run.  Time for my dose of red wine.

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