My 101-year old Aunt Cora has called this cake her Christmas, Birthday, Wedding, and even Funeral Pound Cake. There was always an occasion for it; when I visited, I counted on baking with her and that 1960’s stand mixer.
Her pound cake is a true old-fashioned version that calls for: 1 pound of flour, 1 pound butter and shortening, 1 pound eggs, and not quite 1 pound sugar. Its fragrance of nutmeg is soothing; the dense, buttery texture and sugary, crumbly top crust forms the standard by which I judge other pound cakes. But then, I may be biased by memories.
This is the recipe I found on a recent visit to my aunt. The family had been looking all over for her recipe, and I discovered it taped to the inside of a kitchen cabinet, located just above the decades-old mixer. I’ll be making her Christmas Pound Cake with my daughters this year, in hopes Aunt Cora’s tradition of baking and giving is passed on.
3 3/4 cups OLD MILL UNBLEACHED PLAIN FLOUR
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup butter-flavored vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
10 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
Combine the cake flour, nutmeg, and salt; sift into a medium bowl.
Cream butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl at high speed of electric stand mixer until fluffy, scraping sides of bowl often, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, scraping bowl as necessary, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, two at a time, beating at medium-low speed just until blended. Beat in extract.
Gradually add flour to creamed mixture, beating just until batter is well blended. Scrape into prepared tube pan and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 to 25 minutes.
Let cake cool in pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle. Loosen edges with thin sharp knife; remove pan.