Monday, December 29, 2014

Million Dollar Pound Cake

My son sent me a text a few days before Christmas asking for his dad's recipe for pound cake. I was in South Florida at my daughter's and did not have my recipe file. I told him to google Southern Living's Million Dollar Pound Cake and he should have no trouble finding the recipe. My husband, Walter, loved to cook and bake. He would do most of the holiday baking and turned up some great creations, but, also had some failures. About every third year, his Million Dollar pound cake would be "sad" as my mother would say. The center would not be done and have a gluey streak. I have done my homework and found that overcreaming the flour causes this "Sad" streak. The butter, eggs. and sugar can be beaten at medium speed, but once the flour is added, the mixer should be turned way down to as low as possible.

Pound Cakes originated in Europe during the 1700's, but as the first settlers landed in Virginia, the Carolina's, and Georgia, the recipe became quite popular in southern culture. The True Pound Cake recipe calls for a pound of butter, pound of sugar, pound of flour, and a pound of eggs. Over the decades, the cake has evolved into the delicacy that we enjoy today. In the 1851 cookbook, Direction of Cookery, the author Eliza Leslie uses ten eggs, beaten very lightly, mixed with a pound of flour and sugar. She then added the juice of two lemons and three oranges - sounds good to me. Never use cake flour in a pound cake as it lacks the strength to support the heavy batter.

My Daughter-in-law Dana is an excellent cook and made the perfect Million Dollar Pound Cake. She had no "sad" streaks, and that delectable crust on the top that the kids all pick off and eat first thing. My Bailey grandchildren are getting to be teenagers and have quite the flair for "eating"  and  cooking.

I am going to type the recipe word for word as it is in my Southern Living cookbook from 2002.  This is one cake that needs to be mixed correctly with no impromptu short cuts or missed steps. 

All ingredients should be brought to room temperature about 30 minutes before you begin your mixing.

Also, Preheat the oven to 300 degrees for 30 minutes.

Million Dollar Southern Living Pound Cake

1 pound butter, softened at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
4 cups all purpose flour - I always use King Arthur or White Lily
3/4 cups sweet milk - this is an old southern term that distinguishes whole milk from buttermilk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanillla extract

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. (The butter will become a lighter yellow color; this is an important step, as the job of the mixer is to incorporate air into the butter so the cake will rise. It will take 1 to 7 minutes, depending on the power of your mixer.) Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. (Again, the times will vary, and butter will turn to a fluffy white.) Add eggs one at at time, beating just until yellow yolk disappears. 

Add flour to creamed mixture alternately with mill, beginning and ending with flour. Beat at LOW speed just until blended after each addition. (The batter should be smooth and bits of flour should be well incorporated; to rid the batter of lumps, stir gently with a rubber spatula.) Stir in extracts. 

Pour into a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan. (Use vegetable shortening or butter to grease the pan, getting every nook and cranny covered. Sprinkle a light coating of flour over the greased surface.)

Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.