You know how I’ve written about not quite fitting into my family as a non-sewer? Because the women in my family? THEY SEW. They embroider and knit and hem and quilt and design custom prom dresses.
It’s crazy, really.
But the women in my family also COOK. And while most of us like to experiment with new recipes, shortcuts and updates, some recipes are sacred.
Case in point: The Pound Cake.
My Granny made the best pound cake, and for years, nobody else could replicate it. Somehow, the cake gods have smiled upon us in recent years, though. After my Granny passed away, my mom eventually mastered the pound cake – and it’s just as good as Granny’s ever was.
(Nobody will ever hold a candle to Granny’s brisket, though. That’s just a fact.)
The pound cake is a big deal in my family. We don’t have a get-together or holiday celebration without one. We JUST DON’T. Some of us eat it with a fork, some with our hands, some with butter slathered on top. (I don’t know. And I’m not naming names. Because, ew.) But WE ALL EAT IT.
So when my mom and dad gave me a bundt pan and a copy of Granny’s precious recipe for Christmas last year, well, the pressure was ON. Because you don’t just throw this cake together and hope for the best. You don’t just make this cake like you do any other cake. Are you hearing me? THE POUND CAKE IS SPECIAL.
That’s why it’s taken me 11 months to get up the nerve to attempt it on my own.
As it turns out, it wasn’t that hard. And the cake sitting on my counter right now? IT IS DELICIOUS and perfect and JUST LIKE GRANNY USED TO MAKE IT.
[Side note: I passed my second glucose test. I don’t have gestational diabetes. Cake is allowed again.]
The key – that my mom spent years figuring out and then generously shared with me – is the secret ingredient. As Annalyn and I were mixing up the cake last night, she stopped stirring [and spreading flour all over the counter] and said, “But, Mom! What about THE SPECIAL INGREDIENT?! Allie [my mom] says we have to put in THE SPECIAL INGREDIENT!”
I assured her all would be fine and pointed to THE SPECIAL INGREDIENT I had sitting next to the vanilla and baking soda. Everything would be okay. We had THE SPECIAL INGREDIENT.
See, in addition to a teaspoon of regular vanilla, Granny’s recipe calls for “butter nut flavoring.” But not just ANY butter nut flavoring. No, it must be imitation (I KNOW.), and it must be butter AND nut – not butternut.
We know this because my mom tried them all. And none was JUST RIGHT until she found McCormick’s Imitation Vanilla Butter and Nut Flavoring.
You guys, this is not an ad or commercial. It’s simply a good-faith gesture to save you the time and pain and less-than-awesome pound cake experiences we went through. This stuff is hard to find. Watkin’s apparently used to make something similar – but doesn’t anymore. Finding the bottle of McCormick’s in the store is next to impossible, and ordering from Amazon costs an arm and a leg.
So the real gift last year wasn’t the bundt pan, but the recipe itself (in Granny’s handwriting) – AND A BOTTLE OF THE PRECIOUS [imitation] EXTRACT.
I don’t have an explanation for the power this cake – or the extract – holds over my family. But I do know my first go-round of making pound cake was a success. (Let’s not talk about how I ran out of flour and had to put my mixing on hold for a last-minute trip to the grocery store. Nope, we’ll just forget THAT happened.)
If your family needs a special cake…or you miss your Granny…or you have a stash of tiny bottles filled with imitation butter and nut extract, this recipe is for you.
Just don’t put butter on your piece, okay?
Sour Cream Pound Cake
3 level cups sugar
2 sticks butter
3 level cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter & nut extract
8 oz. sour cream
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs one or two at a time. Alternate adding in flour and sour cream, then add flavorings. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees in bundt pan.
After cake cools, flip onto cake platter. I prefer the top to stay the top, though, so you’ll have to flip it back over again. It lays flatter on the plate that way – and makes sure the delicious top part doesn’t get squished.
I suppose you could use this recipe as a foundation for any sort of flavored pound cake. Add in pumpkin or cocoa or fruit if you’d like. I mean, it’s not how Granny did it. But maybe your family likes that sort of thing.
What recipe or dish is special to YOUR family?
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