My first husband’s grandmother, “Grandma Henry” was a true southern lady. When I met her in 1975, she was in her eighties. Her pride and joy was her own vegetable garden. Every morning she wore an old “house dress” with a faded apron over it to walk out through the neat rows of beans, corn, tomatoes, squash, and potatoes, using the generous apron to collect and carry squash and cucumbers that were “ready” back into her kitchen.
After the early morning gardening chores were done, she would make a list of supplies she needed, change into one of her “good” dresses and head out to the local grocery store in her old car. There she would meticulously inspect every aisle, while she listened closely for the sounds of familiar voices.
Because shopping was more than just picking up milk and bread. Shopping was a community event, a social happening, a chance to catch up all the neighbor’s news and gossip. It was her chance to see and be seen. She loved more than anything to talk about her garden, her new grandchildren, and what flavor of cake or pie she was planning to bake for Sunday.
Because every proper southern lady knew that Sunday was “visiting day.” A day when friends, family or neighbors could, and would, drop by unannounced to compare notes about who was doing what, who had married whom, who had passed and what was said at the funeral. And a proper southern lady had “refreshments” to offer her guests.
Grandma’s Henry’s specialty was her pound cakes. People would drive from miles around to have to pleasure of sitting at her old-fashioned kitchen table to consume a small slice of heaven. Afterwards, she gave them a “tour” of her garden and a few tomatoes and squash to take home.
This is the recipe that I remember her making the most. She had several recipes for different kinds of pound cake, and she experimented and made different versions… but she was always real proud of this one.
She called it “Sour Cream Pound Cake.”
1 cup soft butter
2 3/4 cup sugar
3 cups of sifted cake flour
(Yes, she used “cake flour” and yes, she sifted it with a real sifter.)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. soda
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 t. vanilla
1 t. lemon extract
(She like to try different types of extract, too. I remember her making this with almond.)
Sift flour, salt, and soda together 4 or 5 times; set aside. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, continue to cream. Add flavoring and sour cream. Add dry ingredients a little at a time and blend well. Beat at high-speed for 3 or 4 minutes. Bake in a greased tube pan at 350 degrees for 70 minutes in a preheated oven.
She always “fixed” her cake pan like this: She would rub the insides of the whole thing with Crisco on a piece of wax paper. Then, she put the bottom of the tube pan down in a sheet of wax paper and traced around it with a pencil. She cut out this circle with scissors and folded it in half, then into quarters and cut a line halfway down the center of the fold, so that when it was opened up, there was an opening to stick the middle part of the tube pan through. She then inserted this into the tube pan, so that when the cake was baked and cooled, it would come out nicely and not stick to the pan.
Most of the time she served this “plain” that is, with no embellishments. It is very good with strawberries and ice cream. Sometimes she made a “glaze” for it, out of about a cup of powdered sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla (or lemon) extract and a tablespoon or so of milk.
I made this recently for my youngest son, Klinton. It was his 26th birthday. Grandma Henry would have been so proud of him. In my mind, I can see her now, calling out to a long-lost cousin’s great-niece, as soon as they walked into the small store.
“June Bell? Hi! It’s Aunt Daisy Henry! How are you? It’s been so long since we’ve talked. Have I told you about my great-grandson, Klinton? He’s graduating for college with a degree in physics next week!”
The cake turned out pretty good, although I smashed the top of it of bit trying to cover it too soon. Grandma Henry would have been proud of me, I’m pretty sure, y’all.
I’m linking up to Sweets For a Saturday over at Sweet As Sugar Cookies. If y’all want to see some more yummy dessert recipes (and photos!) or enter one of your own, head over there…it’s an incredible party!
And if y’all are searching for something special to cook for you Easter Dinner, stop by Dee Dee’s Delights. She is having a “Buffet Line” for food bloggers this weekend! How creative is that?