Ashley Strickland is an associate producer with CNN.com. She likes tackling English toffee, channeling summer with sunflower cheesecakes, sharing people-pleasin' pizza dip and green soup, cajoling recipes from athletes and studying up on food holidays.
There is a grace in the harmony of simple flavors and taking the time and care to introduce them to one another. I like to think it’s embodied in a perfect pound cake.
Take a moment to get to know the grand dame of Southern desserts.
It’s not slathered with icing or dripping with ganache. It transports easier than a cream-filled confection. And it doesn’t aim to impress with a laundry list of rare ingredients. Pound cake is simply good, and it’s fitting for just about any occasion.
And you can dress it up for a party if you really want. My favorite variation is popping blueberries into the batter and drizzling the cake with lemon glaze.
My mother’s famous pound cake is a show of gratitude: for the little things, for a thoughtful Christmas gift and for being a friend. If you’re getting a pound cake from my mother, delivered with care by my father, you’ve done something to set off her generous gene.
It takes time – starting out with a cold oven, mixing all of the ingredients together, and then waiting the agonizing hour and fifteen minutes until the cake comes out of the oven. Then you have to keep your hands off of it long enough for the cake to cool, or it will fall apart.
But it reciprocates by filling your home with a warm, sweet aroma that can only be described as an aromatic hug. The end result, a little crispy on the bottom while the soft and buttery inside, will make you weep with joy.
Pound cakes are a tradition in my family, and among our friends. As recently as last week, homemade buttery cakes of all shapes and sizes dotted our counter.
Some come from Aunt Edna, who shared the recipe with my mother via the beloved Augusta Junior League cookbook, “Tea-Time at the Masters.” Others come from friends and neighbors when my father does an odd job for them – and they send him home toting a cake baked with their appreciation.
And as long as I can remember, no matter where I have been in life, one of my mother’s fluted bundt pan-shaped cakes has followed me there.
I brought countless bags, distended by the shaped cake inside, to my friends and teachers in high school.
My first time away from home, I went through a rough patch. By the comforting aroma drifting from the cardboard box I picked up from my dorm's mail room, I knew it was one of my mother’s cakes. My friends and I ate from it all week, like a sustaining manna.
Throughout my college days, cakes showed up on my apartment kitchen counter – and even managed to feed 21 people who showed up for an impromptu welcome back party.
And this time of year, I consider it a birthday cake. Keep your icings, glazes and sweet curd fillings. I would rather have this simple cake, thick with the honeyed memories of home in the spring.
One of the best rewards of making a pound cake is that you’ve got more than enough (or sometimes only just enough) to share. Keep the gracious tradition alive, invite a friend over for a slice and just enjoy not knowing the time.
Sour Cream Pound Cake
Published with permission from the Junior League of Augusta
Printed in “Tea-Time at the Masters,” originally submitted by The Augusta National Golf Club
2 sticks butter (at room temperature)
2 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 8-ounce carton sour cream
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter and sugar well. Add one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir soda into sour cream, allowing it to dissolve. Add flour and sour cream to butter mixture. Add vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured tube or bundt pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour (place the cake in a cold oven, and then set the temperature. While baking, do not open oven). Continue baking at 325 degrees for 15 minutes longer. Cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes and remove to a plate or cooling rack.
My aunt and my mother have added their own variations to this recipe, including these tips:
Cream the butter, then add the sugar. My aunt also used 3 cups of sugar. She used the traditional method of adding the flour and sour cream alternately, beginning and ending with flour.
35 years of "Tea-Time at the Masters"
Throwback recipe: Mrs. Manning's chicken spaghetti
Believe in the goodness of others and remember that anger and depression can be countered by
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you are correct. this cake can be considered as birthday cake. nice recipe
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Has anyone used a 9" x 13" pan for this?
I only use unbleached flour and unsalted butter, and when it comes to sour cream, I only use the real sour cream. Any comments before I attempt this adventure?
Where can I purchase this cookbook, and what is the price? Thanks!
I baked this cake it's phenomenal !!!!!!
And Ashley, I am also a Strickland!
Love a good old-fashioned pound cake. I make mine with cream cheese. You can also vary the taste by using almond extract or lemon extract. Be sure to use extract, not "flavoring"! Really no need to glaze these cakes, but you can serve with berries and whipped cream.
Is there a type of frosting or glaze you can decorate this cake with? I am excited to make this for easter sunday!
I have a similar recipe that I adore, but the pound cake calls for cream cheese rather than sour cream... Also VERY nice....
This looks yummy! I have a couple of questions about the recipe: First, what is "plain' flour? Is that different from "all-purpose" flour? Second, when it says "bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour (place cake in cold oven)...do I start the count towards the 1 hour AFTER the oven has warmed to 300 degrees or from when I put the cake in the oven? Same question about baking at 325 for 15 minutes...do I count the 15 minutes from when I turned up the oven or when the oven reached 325 degrees? Thanks!
Hi Stephanie! Thanks for reading, and you asked some great questions. I've got some answers for you! Plain is the same as all purpose flour. My mother says, "I hit the timer as soon as I put the cake in the oven and go for a total of 1 hr & 15 min. Also, I always use a cake tester in the center just to be sure because the time can vary depending on the oven." Happy baking!
The most basic of cakes...simple. Or jazzed up with fresh berries and whipped cream. Glazed with lemon, vanilla or chocolate. Always sweet enough on it's own, and with a good solid texture. Now... do I have enough butter and sour cream to bake one today?
I need to bake this!
Very excited to try this recipe. Love bundt cakes! They're so classy looking.
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