Mary Reporting. You’ve heard of the Silk Road, the ancient trade route for spices, silks and carpets? (Not the modern drug site.)
My journey this week is on the Sweet Road. In my kitchen right now, it’s the Road Most Traveled.
Recently I unearthed a Louisiana pound cake recipe, which doesn’t follow a pound of this, a pound of that.
Traditionally, a pound of butter, sugar, flour and eggs produced a pound cake. The directions in The Williamsburg Art of Cookery (based on recipes gathered in 1742), Creole Cookery (published in New Orleans in 1885.) and Lafcadio Hearn’s Creole Cook Book (also 1885) start with a pound of butter, sugar and flour. On the number of eggs, each recipe differs. Some call for 10, others say 12 and one calls for 16 egg whites . The one thing they have in common: The whites are beat to a froth before adding to the other ingredients. Not one of these recipes has any leavening other than whipped eggs.
By 1901, The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book added a teaspoonful of baking powder to the mixing bowl, along with a tablespoon of vanilla extract or lemon extract.
My recipe, handed down through a Cajun family named Grevenberg for generations, uses modern measuring cups and cuts the butter and milk to about a half-pound each.( I included the weights with the ingredients.) However, it hits close to the pound with the eggs, sugar and flour. The batter fills a 10-inch tube pan and no one goes hungry come dessert time.
1 cup of butter (8 ounces)
2 cups sugar (14 ounces)
6 eggs (12 ounces)
¾ cup milk (6 ounces)
3 cups flour (13 ½ ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Step by Step:
1) Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
2) Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
3) Cream butter and sugar.
4) Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
5) Add flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour
6) Add baking powder and extracts
7) Bake at 325 degrees for about 11/2 hours. Check often after the first hour and cook until top is golden brown and tester comes out clean.
Nothing quite beats a pound cake for a summer dessert. You can serve it plain and you’ll get no complaints. For July 4 parties, add strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.