Pearl’s Sour Cream Pound Cake

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I found an old copy (1973) of Pearl’s Kitchen, An Extraordinary Cookbook by Pearl Bailey, at the local used bookshop and Zing went the strings of my heart :).

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Okay, I could’ve, but I didn’t want to.

Kind of like this cake. I’ve made traditional pound cake for years. We like this one better.

I shared my lemon pudding cake recipe just recently so I was hesitant to share another cake so soon. But after I made it, well….

 

Pound Cake is so named because, traditionally, it calls for a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of eggs, and a pound of sugar (plus a little salt and vanilla).

American Cookery, the first American cookbook originally published in 1747, gave us this:

To Make a Pound Cake

Take a pound of butter, beat it in an earthen pan with your hand one way, till it is like a fine thick cream, then have ready twelve eggs, but half the whites; beat them well, and beat them up with the butter, a pound of flour beat in it, a pound of sugar, and a few carraways. Beat it all well together for an hour with your hand, or a great wooden spoon, butter a pan and put it in, and then bake it an hour in a quick oven. For change, you may put in a pound of currants, clean washed and picked.

That seems a bit intense. With your hand or a spoon?! For an hour?!

Back to Pearl. Her recipe is not much longer and spectacularly easier.

It was a great joy to wander around Pearl's kitchen and make this old-fashioned sour cream pound cake that was simply too good for mere words. It was even better when I was lucky enough to share it with others. Learn more at suppertimeblues.com.

So I jumped right in!

It was a great joy to wander around Pearl's kitchen and make this old-fashioned sour cream pound cake that was simply too good for mere words. It was even better when I was lucky enough to share it with others. Learn more at suppertimeblues.com.

And then I saw it. Her first instruction is to “cream the butter and sugar.” Except the ingredients don’t list sugar. Zip. None.

Back to the lab. You see, most of my cooking makes a semi-statistical use of a normal distribution. (I was classically trained as a systems analyst, after all.) Take a hundred recipes, average them all together, discard the outliers, and what’s left is usually a fine place to start cooking and what’s left is art. (Am I the only one?)

Which is to say, I looked up a dozen sour cream pound cake recipes and they generally varied from 1 cup to 3 cups of sugar. So I went with 2 cups and it worked like a champ.

Mise en place addendum:

It was a great joy to wander around Pearl's kitchen and make this old-fashioned sour cream pound cake that was simply too good for mere words. It was even better when I was lucky enough to share it with others. Learn more at suppertimeblues.com.

Given my newly-acquired wariness, I then noticed according to the recipe that you never add the vanilla. And since I doubt it’s there just to make the kitchen smell nice, I went ahead and mixed it in.

It was a great joy to wander around Pearl's kitchen and make this old-fashioned sour cream pound cake that was simply too good for mere words. It was even better when I was lucky enough to share it with others. Learn more at suppertimeblues.com.

So the batter was beautiful and it tasted flat-out amazing. Seriously, were it not for the raw eggs perhaps, you could just eat this with a spoon as-is.

I dug out a tube pan (a bundt pan would work too) and wrapped the bottom with foil to take care of any leaks.

It was a great joy to wander around Pearl's kitchen and make this old-fashioned sour cream pound cake that was simply too good for mere words. It was even better when I was lucky enough to share it with others. Learn more at suppertimeblues.com.

Batter into the pan, pan into the oven for 50 minutes, and it was nowhere near done.

I didn’t even bother testing it.

I worked in 10 minute increments until a bamboo skewer came out clean (since a toothpick isn’t long enough for most cakes). It took 1 hour and 20 minutes.

And boy-oh-boy was it pretty.

It was a great joy to wander around Pearl's kitchen and make this old-fashioned sour cream pound cake that was simply too good for mere words. It was even better when I was lucky enough to share it with others. Learn more at suppertimeblues.com.

Be still my heart. Can you believe I shared this with other people? (Yeah, of course, but it took some fortitude.)

I also had fresh organic raspberries that begged to go with.

This one’s a keeper, friends.

It was a great joy to wander around Pearl's kitchen and make this old-fashioned sour cream pound cake that was simply too good for mere words. It was even better when I was lucky enough to share it with others. Learn more at suppertimeblues.com.

Pearl's Sour Cream Pound Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Author: Pearl Bailey (Rose Tizol)

It was a great joy to wander around Pearl's kitchen and make this old-fashioned sour cream pound cake that was simply too good for mere words. It was even better when I was lucky enough to share it with others. Learn more at suppertimeblues.com.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar (see notes)
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until they're light and smooth -- about 2-3 minutes with a hand mixer.

  2. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

  3. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla, and baking powder.

  4. Gradually beat in the flour.

  5. If NOT using a non-stick tube pan, lightly oil and flour the pan.

  6. Pour the batter in the pan. Twist the pan back and forth until even. Don't bounce or tap the pan -- we want the air that we beat into the batter.

  7. Bake at 325°F for 80 minutes (1 hour, 20 minutes). Let cool.

Recipe Notes

The original recipe omitted the sugar from the ingredients. After some experimenting, I landed on 2 cups. Sweet but not too sweet.

Line the outside of the tube pan with aluminum foil to prevent any leaks.

 


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