I was chatting with a group of girlfriends a couple weekends ago and we got to talking about whether we felt like adults in our day-to-day lives. One friend posed the question, when was the first time you really felt like a grown-up? The first thought that floated through my mind was, Yikes… do I even feel like a grown up now?!
Sometimes I feel like my life is punctuated by specific instances when I feel more grown up. One specific occasion that I can remember takes me back to my junior year in college. This was the first year I had a car, which allowed me greater freedom to run the occasional errand, such as a trip to the grocery store. On this particular day, I was on my way to the grocery store to gather ingredients to make a pound cake. I was using a recipe passed down from my grandma, who I’m certain had not used a recipe when making her cakes for several years.
On this particular day I felt rather grown up primarily because baking anything as a college student was an impressive feat. But the task also held a more sentimental value for me. I grew up watching my grandma baking cakes. I remember barely being able to peer over the kitchen counter to see her mixing ingredients. I remember there always being some type of cake sitting out on the counter temping me to have a slice. Therefore, my first attempt at baking this cake felt like a culmination of many years of watching and wisdom passed down. I definitely felt like an adult when the oven timer went off and my creation was complete.
Did you know that the name for a pound cake originated because recipes used to call for a pound of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs? While this recipe makes a few diversions from the classic combination, I think you will find it boasts a nice and moist crumb with an evenly browned exterior.
2 sticks butter, unsalted
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
With a mixer, cream butter and shortening together. Add sugar, a little at a time. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Mix in vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
Pound cake rises primarily due to the air that is beaten in to the eggs when you are adding them to the butter and sugar. To aid the process make sure your eggs are at room temperature and give each egg a two minute beat after each addition. When you are blending the flour and milk into the batter, do this very gently to preserve all the air you incorporated into the eggs. This will help you achieve a nice moist crumb to your cake.