Friday, January 16, 2015

Loretta Kelley's Pound Cake Recipe

My second cousin in Charlotte, North Carolina, says this pound cake is one of her signature desserts; she got the recipe from a nursing student in the 1960s who became a long-time friend.

Also, she uses a special bundt cake pan that was given to her as a wedding present in 1965.  When I was visiting her recently, I looked at the markings on the bottom of the pan, as she told me she had bought a dozen pans over the years trying to find another one like it, but was disappointed with all but her original pan; over the last 40 plus years her original pan has lost a lot of it's teflon coating.  The pan was clearly marked as a "Bundt Pan" made by Northland Aluminum Products in Minneapolis.  I was able to get on eBay and Etsy and find vintage "new" pans to replace her original 12-cup pan, and she was thrilled.  Needless to say, I bought one too (and so did my mom).  Northland Aluminum is now popularly known as Nordic Ware, but she swears the original pan is the best pan - and nothing new compares.

Now, for the recipe!

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) Land O'Lakes Margarine (plus another 3/4 stick for the buttering the pan).
1 bar Philadelphia brand cream cheese (Loretta says Philadelphia has the best flavor in the cake).
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur is Loretta's preferred brand), plus extra to flour the pan
2-3 tsp vanilla extract
1 generous pinch salt

A couple hours before making the cake, remove the eggs, margarine, and cream cheese from the refrigerator and let them sit on the counter at room temperature; all ingredients must be room temperature for this cake to turn out perfectly.

When you're ready to assemble the cake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Heavily butter (using 2/3 to 3/4 stick of margarine) your bundt cake pan, then generously flour.  Loretta says the "heavy butter" serves two purposes; first, it gives the cake a nice crust.  Second, it keeps the cake from sticking to the pan, so be sure to get the margarine in all the crevices (if you feel a bit like you're caulking a shower, you're doing it right.).

Using a stand mixer, cream margarine and cream cheese with sugar.  Add eggs and whip until fluffy (the eggs are the leavening agent).  Add flour and mxi until just incorporated.  Finally, add vanilla.

Spoon immediately into pan; Loretta does this gently with a large spoon to avoid disturbing the heavily buttered floured interior of the pan.  Smooth out top once filled and tap once on the counter to remove any large air pockets.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, then turn down oven to 300 and bake an additional 50-60 minutes.  (In my oven, the pound cake is done at 52 minutes).

Let hot cake rest 10 minutes, then turn it over while still hot onto a cake platter (it is best to place the cake platter upside down on the top of the pan and then flip).

My niece, Courtney, loves strawberry; I have successfully made a strawberry variation of this cake by omitting the vanilla extract and instead adding 1 1/2 TBS imitation strawberry extract to the cake batter.

Another variation found online: if you really want to make this cake extra special, add 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in saucepan, bring to rolling boil, remove from heat, add 1 teas. each...vanilla, almond, lemon extract. When you remove cake from oven, poke holes all over the top of the cake with a wooden skewer, and immediately pour the hot sugar water over the cake.  If cake residue remains on the wooded skewer, that is don't want to overcook this cake! Cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.

Note: Land O'Lakes is the margarine brand Loretta uses; it has 80% vegetable oil - check your margarine to be sure it has the higher oil content.  Loretta has made this cake with butter over the years but says the cake made with margarine is the best (she doesn't use much margarine in her cooking/baking otherwise).

Kelley's Note: I made this cake over the weekend using Land O'Lakes butter (unsalted) instead of margarine, with the addition of 3/4 tsp kosher salt and also 2 cups cake flour plus 1 cup all-purpose flour instead of all 3 cups all purpose flour (the cake was more tender with the addition of the cake flour); it came out great!

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