I honestly don’t know how long I have had this dessert cookbook. I remember finding it at Costco while shopping with my mom, and she bought it for me. I was all excited, drooling over all the delicious recipes, and vowed to bake my way through all 600+ pages. I was… 18? 19? Maybe even 20? I honestly have no clue. Let’s just go with 19. Which means that I have had this book for 9 years. I’ve tried 1 recipe. In almost a decade, only 1 recipe. It’s a great recipe; lemon bars. But what’s the point of keeping this behemoth of a book, of having moved it with me across the country, for 1 little recipe? I’m tired of putting this project off. I have always wanted to cook through a whole cookbook. Especially in the day and age of Pinterest when cookbooks are quickly going the way of the dinosaurs.
Here it is, my Mount Everest. Instead of clearing the table to take this picture, I left all of the life sitting in the background, because this is what I have to bake around. Please don’t for a moment believe the lie that I have super powers that allow me to “get it all done”. I’m just slowly learning how to master the art of juggling, just like the rest of you wonderful mamas. Getting anything done in the midst of motherhood means shifting around enough stuff to give you room to do what you need to do. Stop and go, shift here, and back again.
The opening line of the forward in this book is, When I was growing up, we had dessert every night. Our generation is so anti sugar that a lot of households hardly ever do dessert. Granted–sugar in large quantities is really bad for us. I’m all for getting high fructose corn syrup out of our food and decreasing the sugar in our food overall. But to me, dessert is scared. Do not come at me with your no-sugar added chocolate muffin that looks like poop. Lord save me from all “desserts” that are naturally sweetened with bananas or applesauce. That stuff depresses me. News flash: dessert is not supposed to be healthy . It’s supposed to be a small little sweet to reward yourself for getting through another day. It’s the perfect end of a home cooked meal.
Having dinner with my husband and kids every night is sacred to me. Dessert is an important part of that ritual. When my kids are grown, I want them to equate yummy home cooked meals and delicious desserts with home.
So, back to my cookbook.
It’s broken into sections based on the type of dessert: cakes, cookies, pies, tarts. Cakes is the first section, and it’s opened up with Classic Pound Cake.
I love pound cake,because it has a history. It’s one of the oldest cake recipes, going all the way back to the early 1700’s. The idea behind the pound cake was to use a pound each of eggs, sugar and flour. There are no levening ingredients. The pound cake relies solely on the air that’s whipped into the eggs for the strength to rise. As a result, it is a dense, heavy cake.
This is not a light, delicate crumb, but it is not dry either. If one where to match a personality to this cake, it would be Ms. Patmore from Downtown Abby : stout, sturdy, classic, everyday cake. In my mind, pound cake always reminds me of classic England, for it is perfect for dunking into tea. Or coffee, in my case, since I am thoroughly American.
The pound cake only needs a dusting of powdered sugar to finish it off, for she can hold up just fine on her own.
It took me 3 trys before I got a non-dairy version of the recipe right (I have a dairy allergy, for those who don’t know). The first time, the sides of the cake got too dark. The second time, I set the oven 25° lower than the book said to, and it came out perfectly. But, I had used stick margarine, which has a milk derivative in it (whey). Since I’m blogging my way through this book, I want to be sure to come up with truly non-dairy versions for those who also have a more severe allergy than I. So the third time, I used vegetable shortening, which made it completely dairy free, but kept it just as delicious.
Without further ado, here is the recipe for this classic beauty of a cake.
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 6 teaspoons water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 8″ loaf pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the vegetable shortening and water until fluffy with a hand mixer or using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer.
- Sift the sugar into the shortening and whisk until blended well.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the eggs in 1 at a time, beating well after each one.
- Add the vanilla extract and salt, and mix until incorporated.
- Then sift about half of the flour in and mix until combined.
- Mix the milk in, then sift in the last of the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that everything got mixed in well.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan evenly, firmly banging the pan on the counter about 8 times to release air bubbles.
- Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out cleanly.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool completely on a cutting board or other flat surface. It’s quite difficult to remove the cake if you let it cool completely inside the pan, so please don’t miss this step.
- Wrap in plastic wrap or foil and store at room temperature, sifting powdered sugar on top when ready to serve.