Here’s a recipe to take things back to my church cookbook roots. Pretty much a guaranteed winner at county fairs everywhere, pound cakes are one of those dessert staples I grew up on – seems like there was always a pound cake of some sort hanging out in the kitchen. My mom would make different kinds, and I’m sure there are as many kinds of pound cake as there are county fairs across the land. Here is a good, basic recipe which can be added to or enhanced with other flavors to suit what you would like – it’s guaranteed to win the blue ribbon . . .
This reminded me of the time I went to the Ellenboro Fair. Ellenboro is a small town near where I grew up and the town would set up a carnival at the elementary school every autumn, complete with games, lots of rides and even a ferris wheel. I remember there was also a dunking booth, lots of animals and a big tent for bingo. Maybe a car show? And I remember the Duck Pond game – you know, it consists of a whole bunch of little yellow rubber duckies floating by on water. You pay a ticket and select a duck as it floats by and a number written on the bottom determines your prize. Everyone’s a winner!
For whatever reason, this completely fascinated me. It seemed like there was a ton of little duckies and so many options to win! I remember giving the guy my ticket and being so excited to choose my duck. I looked them over and carefully selected my special duck. And I remember handing it to him, probably wide-eyed with excitement over the prize I was about to receive . . . and he gave me a pecan. Yep – I won a pecan. Just one, mind you – just one single, damn pecan. I don’t think I had gotten so excited about something, only to wind up being so monumentally disappointed.
Now, had I gone to the pie and cake contests, I might’ve scored better with cake like this one. To make a good pound cake, start with some Crisco. And not to get sidetracked again, but did you see The Help, yet? There’s a part in the movie where the character Minnie talks about the many uses and virtues of Crisco. I’m not big on lard myself, but if you want to make a good pound cake the traditional way it’s supposed to be made, then you have to have Crisco. Beat the Crisco up really nicely with your hand mixer and gradually add in sugar. Once this is nice and creamy, you’ll want to start adding the eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat well after each one is added. Lord, that wears me out – but I’m afraid to do it any other way, so one at a time it is.
Next, add in some flour and baking soda. Once they’re incorporated, fold in the sour cream until everything is just mixed. Now, at this point you can add different flavorings or whatever you want to achieve whatever kind of pound cake your heart desires. You can add lemon or orange zest and flavorings. Cocoa or chocolate chips. Almond flavoring. Peanut Butter. Crushed pineapple. Strawberries. Caramel. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. For this basic recipe, all you’ll need is good old vanilla flavoring.
Once your flavorings have been added and combined well, pour the batter into a greased and floured tube or bundt pan. I expect you could bake it in a 9 x 12 pan or something similar, but a true pound cake is always round. Sorry for the blurry picture – imagine how hard it is to try and take a picture while pouring a bowl full of cake batter into a bundt pan!
Bake it for about an hour and a half at 300 F – start checking it earlier if you have a hotter oven. After you’ve pulled it from the oven, let it cool for a good 10-15 minutes in the pan. Then gently turn it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely. At this point you should frost it or serve with fresh fruit or some kind of sauce because otherwise it is pretty much the most BORING DESSERT EVER. Regardless of what you do with it, you now have a Southern staple as a good base for fantastic dessert.
And now that I’m older, if I ever do go back to the Ellenboro Fair, maybe I’ll try my hand at the Floating Ducks again. But more than likely, I’ll be in the Bingo tent, trying to win that 1st place pound cake. Enjoy!
- 1 cup regular or butter flavored Crisco
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 eggs
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp. vanilla (or whatever flavor you like)
Cram Crisco and gradually add sugar. Add eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour with baking soda a little at a time until all is blended in mixture. Fold in sour cream and combine until everything is just mixed. Add vanilla, other flavors, etc. Pour batter into a greased, floured 12-cup tube or bundt pan. Bake for 1 .5 hours at 300 degrees. Let the pan cool for a good 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.