Monday, January 23, 2012

The quest for the perfect pound cake

Brenda is a mild-manned co-worker, the sort who answers the phone in a friendly and professional tone, never misses a deadline and is glad to help colleagues solve problems. But there is one thing that gets on her nerves, and it can cause a meltdown as sure as leaving butter in the sun.

“I am on a quest. I am determined to make the best durn pound cake in North Carolina if it kills me,” said Brenda, who has baked several since the holidays and not found one that meets her high standards. “You use all that butter and eggs and it doesn’t work? I tell you, it’s about to piss me off.”

Brenda has scoured her cookbook collection, a 200-plus volume library that mostly celebrates Southern fare, for recipes that sound promising. She’s made pound cakes with whipping cream, sour cream and cream cheese. She’s made them in cold-start ovens and preheated ones. None have yielded the moist, tender crumb and toothsome crust she seeks.

“I made one this weekend that I felt sure would be the one, but it was a terrible disappointment,” she said. “I like to bring them to the office for feedback, but it went straight into the trash.”

Brenda laughs when saying this, but anyone who has tried to master a recipe with costly ingredients will appreciate her struggle. So in the interest of protecting the sanity of a very sweet lady, please share the best pound cake recipe you know – or share this request with others.


  1. Ma Bessie's pound cake. "Ma Bessie" Gardner was a wonderful country cook. Her granddaughter Lonna took after her and shared some of Ma Bessie's recipes with me. This is the recipe as I copied it diectly from her notes:
    2 st. butter
    1/2 c crisco
    3c sugar
    5 eggs
    1/2 t lemon flav
    3c cake flour
    1/2 t vanilla
    1/2 t b pwdr.
    1c butermilk
    350 1 hr.

    That was all....just the ingredients and temp.
    SO here's what I do:...cream butter sugar and crisco. Add eggs, beating after each. Add cake flour, aternatiely w/ buttermilk, ending in flour, the last of which the baking powder and salt have been added. Lastly, add flavorings.

    Secrets I've learned. Everything at room temp
    6 eggs is better
    use really good vanilla
    I often double the amount of lemon flavoring
    I preheat to 340, and bake for an hour and twenty minutes. My biggest secret, though, is my poundcake baker...North Carolina Pottery by the Marleys at Hickory Hill Pottery in Westmoore, NC.

  2. Thank you! I will defnitely share with Brenda.