Four Pound Cake

Image by tncarlos from Pixabay

Well, here we are. Four days before Christmas, and I was still wracking my brains as to what new dessert I should try for Christmas Day. Then it hit me. I love grilled pound cake with hot fudge, vanilla ice cream, and toasted pecans. BINGO! My usual Christmas desserts are pie or cheesecake. Neither of which you can go wrong with.

Since we are of low numbers in our household, it always needs to be something that can be frozen. I think the older you get, the less you can pack it in!

I, however, cannot simply just tell you I’m making pound cake; that would be rather dry. No. I thought it might be fun to take a quick ride in our “foodie” time machine and indulge in some pound cake history. So, hop in and buckle up. We are headed for the early 18th century in Nothern Europe.

Four pound cake

Image by Douglas Perkins from Pixabay

At its inception, the pound cake began very simply. A pound of each of the following: butter, flour, eggs, and sugar. The butter and sugar were creamed by hand. The eggs were whisked with a bunch of sturdy brambly branches, cut and tied to be small enough to whisk in a bowl.

Since there were not many “chemical” leaveners in the day, they had to be resourceful and create the air they needed in the recipe to “lift” the flour. The eggs had to be whisked for one hour! YES! One hour. What a true labor of love. With today’s mixers, it would take 15 minutes. I’ll stick with my Kitchen Aid.

With having only eggs, sugar, flour, butter, you would think that would leave room for adding some baking spices. Interestingly enough, caraway seed was often added. Others liked to grate half of a nutmeg into the recipe along with cinnamon. You can keep the caraway seed out, in my opinion.

Cake- it’s not what you’re thinking

Most of us will think of “cake” as a 9×13 pan of chocolate cake. Or perhaps a coffee cake in a bundt cake pan. But, traditionally speaking “cakes” took on very different forms, ranging from small round cookie type cakes, a muffin, or rather large weighing cakes; in the area of 20-30 or even 40 lbs. I know! Crazy, right?

Check out this YouTube video here, for a short but interesting history of pound cake.

Today, pound cake is traditionally made in either a Bundt pan or in a bread tin. I would say, that you’d be in safe baking company placing your pound cake in a Bundt pan. The Bundt pan was traditionally used by folks in the south to make their pound cake.

And as we dig further into pound cake, I stumble upon a fascinating story from the south. Abby Fisher, the first known African-American cookbook author, wrote a book about southern cooking. But we are going to “put a pin in that thought” and I will write about that in a future article.

Amelia Simmons was a well-known cookbook author. In 1796, Amelia came out with “American Cookery: or, The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Puff-pastes, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and all kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plumb to plain Cake”. Amelia was the first American to publish and print a cookbook in the United States.

Top it all off

Image by pixel1 from Pixabay

There are so many pound cake recipes, it was hard to choose what ones I should publish. I have listed below, a few links for you to try. As always, I can’t legally give you the recipe, you’ll need to go to the site and look it up there.

Toppings for pound cake abound as well. You can use a variety of ice creams, sauces (fudge, fruit, compotes), icing, whipped cream, frosting. In addition, powdered sugar, a sprinkling of toasted pecans; this list goes on.

Friends, I am out of time once again. But stay tuned for some exciting recipes and foodie adventures in 2022! Till then, here is to good food, good friends and a good life.

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