Friday, June 8, 2012

We're Talkin' Cake

I decided that we would stay home on Thursday.  We would not get in the car all day.  It is so rare that I am able to do this, to just stay put.  We did it!  It was a hot day with a nice breeze, which meant that it was much more pleasant outside than in.  Especially since I decided that we would bake.

We made the pound cake, and it was just as good as I remembered from when we made it the first time.  I discovered this recipe when Becca needed to bring food to her English class.  Her class had just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird, and each student was asked to bring a food item that was mentioned in the book.  I thought this was a really fun way to bring this era to life for the students.  We decided to make Cracklin' Bread and Pound Cake.  The Cracklin' Bread was corn bread with BACON added to it.  I think that bacon should be a food group.  It is probably one of my most favorite foods in the world.  Not only was bacon added to the corn bread mixture, but the grease was left in the iron skillet, the batter poured into that, and the whole concoction was baked in the iron skillet.  The bacon grease sizzled around the edges of the batter, making it super crisp and light.  Yum.  Decadent.  Probably Not Healthy At All, especially if one isn't doing hard physical work every day like people did back then.

I digress.  On to the pound cake.  Did you know that the name "pound cake" originated in the early 18th century?  It was so named because the original recipe called for a pound of each of the ingredients:  butter, sugar, flour, and eggs.  That tells you how rich this is.  It is also moist, perfectly dense, and delicious.  You have not experienced pound cake properly if all you have tasted is the store-bought cardboard loaves from the supermarket.  When we were searching for the best way to make this, I knew that the Queen of Butter, Paula Deen, would be the one to have the best recipe, and I was right.  Her recipe can be found here, and at the bottom of this post.  Be sure to check your stock of ingredients, because you might not have 5 eggs left in your carton, or a half pound of butter!

You might be concerned about the shortening called for in this recipe.  Yes, you can find organic shortening and avoid the potential GMO contamination.  Hurrah!

We put fresh blueberries in half of the cake, but they didn't really add anything to it.  I think what I should have done was save those berries to put on TOP of the cake.  This is something that would hold up well for a strawberry shortcake, or be awesome served with any type of berries.

We also made the black bean and corn salad.  We had run out of tomatoes (and I was not making a trip to the store for anything that day!) so we used canned diced tomatoes we had on hand.  They were an adequate substitute, but I wouldn't recommend it.  Not if you love fresh the way that I do.  (Come on, tomatoes, start ripening faster in the garden, okay?)

Here's Paula's recipe.  Remember it takes 1 1/2 hours to bake, so plan ahead and enjoy!

Mama's Pound Cake
Paula Deen

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  1 hour, 30 minutes
Serves:  16 to 20

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, plus more for pan
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

With a mixer, cream butter and shortening together. Add sugar, a little at a time. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Mix in vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

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