Monday, May 25, 2009

Ba's Pound Cake

Ba was my maternal grandmother and she probably made this pound cake once a week. It was almost always around, there on the counter by the refrigerator, under the aluminum cake dome with the wooden acorn knob on top. It is a dense cake -- but pure, basic goodness -- requiring no frosting. If somehow it stays around long enough to get stale, it's good toasted.

The original pound cake required a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, and a pound of eggs. That makes this a half pound cake.

2 sticks butter (1/2 pound) at room temperature (softish but not melting)
1 2/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour (unbleached -- and I don't sift)
5 eggs (also at room temperature)
1 tablespoon vanilla

That was Ba's recipe -- I have taken to adding the following in these approximate amounts:

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly, by hand or with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add flour and (optional) spices; mix in; add vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Put batter in very well-greased tube pan. Put in cold oven; turn to 350 F; bake one hour.

Turn out to cooling rack but be sure to try a slice while it's still warm.

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Auntie Knickers said...

MMMMM! I'm going to have to try this one. Cayenne pepper? Seriously?

Merisi said...

Oh, Vicki, you make me want to put myself on a diet of pound cakes:
Plain Vanilla on Mondays,
Blueberry on Tuesdays,
Lemon on Wednesdays,
Poppyseed Thursdays,
Fridays chocolate chips,
Saturdays almonds,
and Key Lime on Sundays!

Was Ba' for the Russian babushka?

Vicki Lane said...

Really and truly, Auntie Knickers, cayenne pepper. You might want toerr on the side of caution -- my family and I love hot things. To us, this amount of cayenne was only just barely noticeable but it played up the nutmeg and sweetness beautifully.

I got the idea from some wonderful chocolate/cayenne ice cream a friend served me. And recently I tried a chocolate truffle that had habanero pepper in it -- wonderful! Heat and sweet work together.

Vicki Lane said...

What a fine idea, Merisi! Key lime -- the very thought makes my mouth water.

No, no Russians in the family. Ba (pronounced as a sheep would say it) was the name I gave her when I was tiny.

Byron said...

I love this recipe! I got it from my cousin Eveie and we call it "Evie's Old Coven Pound Cake". I suspect it is the most wholesome food on the planet and should be given in small slivers to the sick and invalid.

Vicki Lane said...

Right you are, BB! It's comfort food of the best sort. (I may just have to go have a slice to get me through midday.)

Carol Murdock said...

Vicki...this is great! I've made Ba's Bananna Bread several times and love it! I was hesitant about the Cayenne but after you explained to AK how it kicks up the nutmeg, I'm in!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Oh my! this sounds delish!

The addition of Cayenne and Nutmeg sounds brilliant.

I have a real soft spot for pound cakes, and I think Merisi's week of pound cakes sounds too lovely!

Vicki Lane said...

Carol -- So glad to hear that Ba's banana bread has made it to Mississippi!

and Kaye -- These old recipes are such treasures -- but I like to mess with them now and then.

Once I made an apple pie with cayenne instead of nutmeg (which I use instead of cinnamon.) I keep my spices in glass jars and the two looked real similar -- and being in a hurry, I didn't look at the label. It was a mistake but e all loved it. Now I always use cayenne in apple pies.

Reader Wil said...

Yummy, it looks delicious! I wish you were my neighbour! Thanks for sharing! Have a great week.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Vicki, I'd love to try this, but my husband would be the beneficiary. I'm not supposed to ingest any animal fat. Wah. I'm trying to stick, more or less, to a plant-based diet, which right now is easy with all the greens coming in. But I love pound cake. My maternal grandmother made a great one. Have I ever posted the pound cake recipe poem I wrote for her? If not, I'll have to. K

Vicki Lane said...

Thank you, Reader Wil! I wish you could drop in -- there are a few slices left and fresh coffee just made. . .

Oh dear, Kay, no, this wouldn't suit your diet at all. And were you to make it for your husband, even intending to be strong, the smell would shatter your resolutions!

But with fresh greens and fruits coming on you'll do fine . . . I just cut up the most delicious mango for our salad tonight . . .

Tess Kincaid said...

Cayenne pepper must be the secret! I haven't made a pound cake in ages. I might just have to make this. Um-um.

Vicki Lane said...

Willow, I hear that cayenne pepper is good for you, thereby making this cake almost health food . . .

Merisi said...

I called my maternal grandmother Omammah. Simply couldn't not stop at Oma.

Our son called his baby sister "wau-wah" because he couldn't pronounce "Laura" - she's a teenager now, but we still call her by that nickname every now and then.

Vicki Lane said...

My little brother turned Vicki into Beebee and that was my family name for years. I love the way these nicknames persist.

Miss_Yves said...

En Français:"Quatre quarts"!

It's also a familial cake, easy to prepare ,so the children enjoy it , especially with chocolate!

Vicki Lane said...

Hi, Miss Yves -- Interesting to know this cake has a French counterpart!