Last week I wrote about my mother’s passing. And her love for pound cake. I said instead of moping about, I’d make one myself. So I dug through my files and found Muddy’s recipe (my mother’s mother). It turned out fantastic, so I’m reposting. As you can see it doesn’t include instructions, so I pulled up any ol’ standard pound cake recipe and took it from there. Basically you sift the dry ingredients well, then start by creaming the butter and sugar VERY well (5 minutes at least) in a separate bowl before adding the wet ingredients, then add the dry ingredients in small batches. I’m just used regular 2% milk. And made sure the oven rack was in the middle. It makes enough batter for two large loaf pans or one Bundt. I added the juice of three lemons, and left the top plain, just dolloping some lemon curd to gild the lily. Spring sunshine on a plate with a ton of memories on the side. Magic.
Anyone who knows me or reads my blog realizes I’m a pie queen. I make lots of pies both sweet and savory. But my friends, my really good, close friends know I’m a slut for cake. Any cake. At my old job co-workers never ceased to enjoy making fun of me for my cake whoring. Birthdays in the office? Better tell Jenée. Cause there will be cake. To this day, I have old co-workers who have since become friends who post to my Facebook wall around 3 (the time I crave it most) asking, “So, what kind of cake are you inhaling right now?”
My mother loved cake too. Her favorite was lemon pound cake, sweet and buttery with a tart and sweet glaze. She was known for it, even getting her recipe published in the local paper. You’ll find it below.
Growing up she made it often, and on every holiday, changed the shape to reflect the celebration. Heart-shaped for Valentine’s, bunny-shaped for Easter. It was my job to make the paper ears every year for the bunny cake, a job I abhorred. Flecking the bunny with coconut, putting jelly beans in for eyes. But the eating was extraordinary.
Pound cake holidays included birthdays. A buttercream pound cake from Belle Bakery in Richmond topped with a plastic ballerina. I associated pound cake with birthday cake so closely once when I went to a birthday party at a friend’s house and her mother served yellow sheet cake, I proclaimed to whomever would listen, “THAT’S not birthday cake!” Yeah, I was a smartass little shit even then and boy, did I get it when Mom got me home.
My mother passed away from cancer 12 years ago today. This was after suffering 10 years as a brain trauma victim from a horrific car accident. The one thing people don’t tell you about losing a loved one is you never, ever forget it. The first few years were the hardest. March 27th was a day to be endured, hidden from by calling in sick to work, sleeping all day or drinking too much wine. Gradually as the years passed, the day was still hard, but almost bearable. Almost. I wouldn’t tell anyone, pretend to be happy, and just breathe, trying my best to get to March 28th.
There are 3 things I can make well without a recipe: pasta, pizza, and soup. Everything else I have to lean in to that slip of paper torn from a magazine, that section of the cookbook laid out, spine of the book broken, or that app on the iPad, said iPad carefully covered with a Ziploc bag to prevent catastrophe. I’m not a cupboard chef, I can’t just whip open the doors and magically create something in 30 minutes. The Hubby can. Me? I lean.
But with pasta, pizza, and soup I’m a magician. Pasta was the first thing I ever conquered out of necessity. When you live on your own in your 20’s making minimum wage you quickly discover a 65-cent box of linguine (that’s what it cost at Food Lion back then) can go a long way. Grilled cheese and ramen get old.