This is a pound cake story.
From What's Cooking America
The name (Pound Cake) comes from the fact that the original pound cakes contained one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. No leaveners were used other than the air whipped into the batter. In the days when many people could not read, this simple convention made it simple to remember recipes. A cake made of 1 pound of each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour would have been very large and would have been able to serve multiple families. As years went by, the portions of the ingredients used were adjusted to make a smaller, lighter cake. However, the name of the cake stuck.
The Pound Cake has traditionally been a popular dessert in the southern states. The first known cookbook written an African-American, Abby Fisher, called What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking in 1881. Mrs. Fisher, born a slave, somehow found her way to San Francisco from Alabama soon after the Civil War and created a life and business there manufacturing and selling “pickles, preserves, brandies, fruits, etc. Mrs. Fisher could not read or write. It is said that her friends wrote down her recipes and helped her publish her cookbook.
The longevity of the pound cake is lovingly presented on tables of African Americans during holidays, special celebrations and for home going occasions when someone passes away. Some of the best pound cakes I've enjoyed have been at these repasts where women (and sometimes men) are in a church basement preparing homemade foods which are then set out for the family and guests to eat after a funeral. Not uncommon to find veritable feasts at these gatherings.
You can smell the aroma of good food being prepared while sitting upstairs in church (especially challenging for a morning service when your stomach is growling) and hoping that you can make it back from the cemetery in time to get a plate. I learned early on to tuck some waxed paper or aluminum foil in my purse to wrap up a piece or two of cake for later.
No matter what other cakes I enjoy, Moms 1-2-3-4 poundcake is the one I return to again and again. Learned to make it by standing on a chair beside Mom and her trusty Sunbeam mixer. The simplicity of pound cakes is what makes these a favorite for me. Whether it be lemon, almond, vanilla, coconut or chocolate, these cakes are keepers. Even without frosting, it's delicious. I've made this cake, sliced it in individual portions and then froze to enjoy in the kids lunchboxes and on my long commutes into New York City from upstate New York. Usually brought an extra piece to share on those train rides.
Here's Moms recipe which I typed on an old Selectric typewriter eons ago. The recipe calls for butter or margarine (never made it with margarine) and Mom made it in a round tube pan. I like a loaf pan.
My sister Susan and I have made Moms cake too many times to recall. One of Susans brothers in law always makes a beeline for this cake at family gatherings which he proclaims is his absolute favorite cake. He's been known to drive over to her house, even in bad weather, if he knows she has made this cake.
Pat Bennett is the founder and President of Pat's Granola, a Cleveland based food company. Pat's Granola is sold online at www.patsgranola.com and is also available at several Northeast Ohio businesses including:
Troubadour Coffee Roasters www.troubadourcoffeeroasters.com
Sports and Spine Physical Therapy www.sportspine.com
Local Flavors Shoppe www.localflavors.net
Rittman Orchards and Farm Market www.rittmanorchards.com
Locle Box www.loclebox.com
Made Cleveland www.madecleveland.com
Mister Brisket www.misterbrisket.com
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport www.clevelandairport.com