Monday, August 21, 2017

Barbara's Sour Cream Pound Cake

This recipe is titled "Sour Cream Pound Cake," but the truth is that it may not match up what you think of as a pound cake. The ingredient ratios are different than a standard pound cake, or the iconic 1234 Cake (the most popular recipe on this blog). The texture of the finished cake is lighter, as well. Like a classic pound cake, though, it's good the first day it's baked, and is good the next day, too. It is a nice bite on its own, with the slight tang of sour cream, but is also a great base for your favorite fruit, fruit compote, or ice cream. Or, smear a slice with soft butter and run it under the broiler to toast, to eat plain or with a topping -- no complaints either way.

It's called "Barbara's Sour Cream Pound Cake" because it was my mother's recipe. I don't know the origin -- whether she got it out of a magazine or newspaper or product package or from a friend. I just know that at some point in my early childhood it showed up, and became a staple.

My mother must have made literally hundreds and hundreds of these cakes. It was dessert on a random weekday night; it was taken to PTA meetings and bake sales and potlucks; it was taken to my father's fire station to share with his shift; it was given to teachers and grieving families. My mother made lots of different kinds of cakes and baked goods, but this was a standby.

The ingredients were always on hand -- except sometimes the sour cream, we might have to run up to the Kwik Pick to get a carton. She could make it in her sleep, and by the time I got to be middle school age, I could make it, too. In fact, it was probably this cake more than any other that taught me the classic American home cake baking formula:  Creaming butter with sugar, adding the eggs one at a time, alternating dry and wet ingredients, adding the flavorings at the end.

Mama has been gone seven years now, and I had not made the cake myself in probably decades. This week, though, I took it to a gathering of friends who meet periodically to share cakes and other goodies. I usually take a new cake from my stash of untried recipes, but this time I wanted the sour cream pound cake's simplicity, and the sheer nostalgia of eating it and sharing it as Mama did so very many times.

I was nervous; as many times as I've made it, I don't bake often enough any more to be supremely confident that everything will go smoothly. My oven is a little wonky, and I am just absent-minded enough to do something goofy. Except for a little lopsidedness due to an unlevel oven, though, it came out perfectly. Mama would have been pleased.

Barbara's Sour Cream Pound Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour (White Lily, preferably)
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup good-quality sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond flavoring*

Sift together the flour and baking soda and set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream, mixing just until ingredients are incorporated – do not overmix. Stir in flavorings. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan or standard bundt pan. Bake in a preheated 325º oven for 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 300º and continue baking until done, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a cake rack to cool completely.

* You can use lemon flavoring instead of the almond if desired.

Serving Note: You could certainly add a glaze to this cake, or even drizzle some ganache over it. We never did, though.

No comments: