Recipe: Baptist Pound Cake

Photo from Wikimedia Commons, Flickr upload
I was hunting for a topic to write about today and decided to look through Mother’s recipe cards for inspiration.  Baptist pound cake is a recipe I remember using when I was in high school, and as a fallback dessert when a pie wouldn’t do as I got older.  It’s similar to bourbon cake, but without the whiskey (hence Baptist!).   It’s moist and dense, and is super with fresh strawberries or other fruit.

The recipe card is pretty old.  It was nice to see Mother’s handwriting again–leans slightly to the right, not too loopy or feminine, very clear and easy to read.  As she got older her writing deteriorated.  Cursive writing is becoming a lost art.  At least the pound cake recipe still survives on its yellowed index card.

Baptist Pound Cake

1/2 cup shortening (Mother recommends Crisco–not sure what to substitute)

1 stick of margarine or butter

3 cups sugar

5 eggs

3 cups plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and shortening with sugar.  Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a separate bowl, sift flour, add baking powder.  Add milk and the flour mixture alternately to the creamed mixture.  Pour into a prepared tube pan (use Pam for baking, or butter the interior lightly and shake flour to coat.)  Put into a COLD oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes.

 

Recipe: Juanita’s “Rocks” Cookies

Rocks Cookies
Rocks cookies fresh from the oven

This recipe actually comes from my sister Juanita’s neighbor, whose mother made them in rural Pennsylvania.  Juanita sent me some at Christmas last year, and I liked them because they have that Christmas smell (see last week’s post).  Also they will keep for a week or two in a tightly closed plastic container, which is a plus sometimes, and they freeze well.

Anyway, I thought of them when I needed to make cookies for my book group, so I called Juanita and got the recipe.  When I baked them, they didn’t rise, and they cooked faster than planned.  Hmm, I said to myself, and called my sister Glenda.  Glenda said, maybe it’s because you used a dark cookie sheet?  Then she read the recipe to me, to make sure I had it all.  Woops!  I had left out the baking soda.

End of the story:  even without baking soda, they tasted fabulous.  So I took them to book group, and they snarfed them down, and requested the recipe.   Juanita called afterwards for a report, so I had to admit my mistake.  She laughed, and said the first time she made them, they ran all over the pan.  Her neighbor forgot to mention the flour when she gave her the recipe!

So here’s the deal.  If you want them the way they are supposed to look, and with the texture they are supposed to have (a little bit puffy and cakey), follow the recipe precisely.  If you have dark cookie sheets, lower the temperature by 25 degrees!  If you want them chewy and not puffy, leave out the baking soda.  It works just fine.  Also, this recipe can be halved.  It makes an inordinate amount of “rocks.”  P.S.  For some reason, this image will not rotate!  Makes me crazy.  Just turn your head sideways to see what the non-baking-soda version looks like.

“Rocks” Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

3 cups regular flour

1 lb. each of chopped dates, raisins, and chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon each of allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt

1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in a little hot water

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs.  Add dry ingredients and baking soda (batter will be stiff).  Fold in the dates, raisins, and walnuts.  Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (if using dark cookie sheets, bake at 325 instead).  Makes 5 – 6 dozen.

1

Emergency Dessert: Mother’s One Egg Cake

I don’t remember exactly when this photo of my parents was taken, sitting in the swing in the front yard of our house on the farm.  Daddy always wore khaki work clothes to his job at Fort Campbell and also to work around the farm.  Mother thought overalls were low-class, so he never wore them.

Daddy worked hard on the farm, and his job at Fort Campbell in his later years was demanding, too.  I can’t imagine a man in his 50’s unloading frozen sides of beef  and carrying them into the commissary meat locker, but that’s what he did.  Mother felt he needed meat and vegetables every night for dinner, and Daddy felt he needed a dessert as well.

Money was always tight, but we had our own beef and pork, generally one of the yearling calves and one pig that were slaughtered and frozen.  Mother canned and froze vegetables from our garden and apples and pears from various relatives’ trees, and made jams and jellies.  So we always ate well, thanks to her labor (and mine, an unwilling helper!).

The following recipe is the one egg cake she would make when she didn’t have a lot of eggs to spare and not a lot of time.  She generally served it with fruit or ice cream, or made a quick buttercream frosting.  I’ve used  it instead of shortcake with strawberries and whipped cream, or just dusted some powdered sugar on top and called it a day.  It makes a 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ one-layer cake, just right for four people.

One Egg Cake

2 cups flour

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

2-4 tablespoons shortening

Cream together shortening, sugar, egg, vanilla, and milk, then add dry ingredients and mix.  Bake in greased 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ pan in 350 degree oven (325 degrees if using glass baking dish) for 25 – 30 minutes.  It’s done when lightly browned and center bounces back if you touch it lightly.