Aunt Ruth’s Sour Cream Pound Cake

This week my son requested pound cake for dessert. I was surprised to find I have yet to post the recipe for my Aunt’s Sour Cream Pound Cake. My Aunt always had a round of her famous sour cream pound cake tucked away under the lid of the cake dome. I know I gush a lot over my great Aunt Ruth. She is an amazing woman. She is a strong classy lady with loads of common sense wisdom.

My Aunt Ruth can farm and hunt with the best of tom boys; yet, she can done a gown and ballroom dance with a regal air. She has the purest heart. She never gossips or speaks ill of anyone. She believes in the saying “if you can’t say something nice do not say anything at all.” So you will find she does not talk too much. When she does she has so many adventurous stories to tell. My Great Aunt Ruth was unable to have children of her own but she was a loving mother to many. You can’t help but love her. She has an infectious smile with a down to earth personality. She is the most amazing cook too. Her meals are simple. No fluff. Just simple fresh ingredients.

My Aunt Ruth always served her pound cake with fresh chopped strawberries. The strawberries were tossed with sugar to draw out the juices to create a syrup. She always had pint sized containers of fresh picked strawberries and blueberries in the freezer ready to top pound cake or be made into a cobbler.

Pound cakes get their name from the weight of the ingredients used: a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of sugar and a pound of eggs. Always try to use the freshest good quality ingredients when preparing pound cake. Because pound gets the majority of its flavor from the butter there is no substitute for real butter. Use a low protein flour such as Pillsbury or a cake flour to keep the crumb tender.

Pound cakes do not use baking powder to give them rise. Instead they rely on the power of eggs and whipped air incorporated into the batter during the creaming and addition of the eggs. Over mixing the batter can result in a dense crumbly cake rather than a lighter moist version. In this recipe the butter, butter-sugar mixture, dry ingredients and egg whites are all whipped separately before combining them. It is equally important to mix each stage properly.

2 sticks butter, room temperature but still cool
2 3/4 cup sugar
6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt, room temperature but still cool
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon flavoring (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour the bottom, sides and cone of a 10-inch tube pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar; cream until light colored and fluffy. About 5-7 minutes.

**Do not stop beating sugar and butter too early. Continue beating until the mixture is light in color and fluffy not stiff and dull.**

Whip egg whites until just stiff. (about 2-3 minutes with a mixer) Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, alternating egg yolk then some egg white.

**Do not over mix each addition. Mix in each egg addition just until the color of the egg yolk or egg white disappears.**

In a small bowl sift the flour, salt and baking soda. Using a large spatula, fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture alternating sour cream then flour; mixing until just combined. Add the vanilla and lemon; fold in until incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.

To serve: top cake with glaze and a dusting of powdered sugar. Or omit the glaze and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with sliced berries, ice cream or whipped cream.

Glaze: Beat the following ingredients together until smooth and creamy.
8 ounce package cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 box powder sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

— Try to use a lighter aluminum tube pan. The darker pans tend to darken the sides and bottom of the cake more.
— Bake by instinct not time. Watch the cake at about the 1 hour mark. Test for doneness by pressing on the top. If it feels firm and bounces back the cake may be done. If it jiggles or feels fragile under pressure it is not done.
— If the cake is browning too fast cover the top with aluminum foil and place pan on a baking sheet. This will insulate the cake from further direct heat.
— Weather and ovens vary the end result of baked goods.
— There is no substitute for lemon extract. Lemon juice contains acids while the extract has more of an essential oil base. You could try a tablespoon of lemon zest, if in a pinch, added to the glaze.