April 14, 2008

Indiana Pound Cake

Jonquil, 1 Mar 08, comment to ‘Misanthropy’

This is the pound cake my mother made at least once a month; she got it from Ruthmary Wright. It holds for a week, if your family doesn’t eat it first. It’s baked in a Bundt pan, an American version of a gugelhupf pan; for non-Americans, use a 12-cup tube pan.

2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter *
5 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

**Beat together until very fluffy *** ; pour into greased Bundt pan and bake at 325 for about 1 hour.

* a stick is 4 ounces; recipe says “oleo works, too”, but why would you?
** recipe just says “salt”; I think I use 1/4 tsp.
*** You beat the butter and sugar together till fluffy, add the eggs, add the flour, add the flavorings. One of the nice things about this recipe is that there’s a crispy almond-flavored crust on the very top.

The Cook Not Mad’s pound cake, receipt no. 139

Jonquil, 1 Mar 08, comment to ‘Misanthropy’

I just bought The Cook Not Mad: or Rational Cookery from Lee Valley Tools. It’s a period piece on two different axes: the original cookbook was published in 1830, and the edition I have was published in 1973 “with present-day adaptations of the old receipts”. The introduction warns, “Moreover, our ingredients are different, our flour and sugar are much more refined, our eggs are larger, and our tastes are more sophisticated. [Italics mine.] For these reasons it is inadvisable and hardly possible to use the receipts in the 1830 edition of The Cook Not Mad.”

Here’s The Cook Not Mad‘s pound cake, receipt no. 139, in total.
One pound of flour, one of sugar, ten eggs, ten ounces of butter.

The editor’s adaptation has the ingredients:
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup corn syrup
T vanilla
3 eggs
1 T grated orange rind
2 c sifted cake flour
1/2 baking powder.

The first seven ingredients are “whirled in a blender for thirty seconds then poured into a mixing bowl.”

The explanatory footnote says “Pound cake was originally named for the ‘pound of sugar, pound of flour’ etc. found in the original recipe; an old tale heard often. This modern pound cake is faster, easier, and cheaper, yet with the same great flavor, texture, and versatility as of old.”

I take leave to doubt that. I think I would have enjoyed the 1830s version from the hands of its original cook, and I’m willing to bet I could produce a better cake from it, in a modern kitchen with modern ingredients.