A few years ago, my mom, always the family historian, made a three-ring binder with family recipes. These recipes were mostly hers, gleaned from Church cookbooks, St. Louis Association books, and contributions from family or friends. She even included a series of recipes from a cookery school weekend she attended in Italy in the late ’70s. The point is that food and recipes and cooking together was a thing for our family. My grandmother was an accomplished cook in her own right, and this pound cake recipe never failed. It was even passed on to me, as these things should be, on a three-by-five note card with her clear handwriting. I’ve made a few tweaks over the years, but the heart is the same. It’s the best dang pound cake you’ve ever had.
And if I may make a suggestion. … It’s perfect as it is, but it’s even better sliced and fried with a pat of butter until golden brown. Serve that with a scoop of vanilla and any kind of syrup of your choice, and there’s simply nothing better.
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks, salted please, and hold the butter wrapper, which you’ll use later)
3 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of good whiskey (Traditionalists would use vanilla I suppose, and less, but why?)
6 eggs, separated
3 cups cake flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup of sour cream
A few notes: As you can see, I use whiskey instead of vanilla. Feel free to use vanilla. I like salted butter in my baked goods. Recipes usually tell you to use unsalted. Do not do that. Cake flour is different from universal. Use cake flour.
When this bakes, you’ll notice that the top has a crisp, whimsical top that’s a little unusual for pound cake, but it’s actually the best part. Just don’t be alarmed if you’re familiar with what pound cakes typically look like.
Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. The mixture will lighten and almost double in volume. This is best done in a kitchen mixer, but a hand mixer also works fine.
Add the whiskey and then the egg yolks (remember, friends, we separated the eggs, save those egg whites) one at a time. Put aside.
In a separate bowl combine all your dry ingredients and in another bowl mix your buttermilk and sour cream.
Then slowly add the dry ingredients as well as the buttermilk and sour cream to your skimmed egg and sugar mixture, alternating until they are all combined. Put aside.
Take the remaining egg whites and beat until stiff. I like to add a few tablespoons of sugar to help stabilize the white itself, but you don’t have to. Once they are nice and firm and a little shiny, slowly add them to the cake mixture by gently folding them over. Working from the bottom, fold the egg white over it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but mostly mixed. You may see a white stripe here or there; this is no problem.
Do you remember the butter wrapper? Yes, so now you can use it. Wipe the inside of a loaf tin with it, and if you want to put some more butter in the tin, the wrapper is still a good way to rub it all around and into the corners without getting your fingers greasy.
Pour the cake mixture into the buttered pan and bake at 350 degrees. It takes a while if the memory is right, and timing is always tricky – different cookers, different times – so keep an eye out. Set a timer for 30 minutes. Check it, cake test it and adjust accordingly. I believe in you; you have this.