Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sentimental Baking Journey

I've set aside today to do some baking.  I intended to start with the Pumpkin Pecan bread but nixed it for a Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake instead.  Anyone that knows of me and my love of baking know I have a fond attachment to the Pound Cake.  Though they might not know why.  I first started sampling recipes when I stretched the apron strings by leaving home permanently.  It was just after college as a matter of fact.  Anyway, at the time I said I like the sturdiness of the cake and it's short list of ingredients.  In actuality, it had more to do with the fact that it made me smile and think of spending time in the kitchen with my Mama.  Of the five girls, I was the one that picked up the kitchen skill.  My little sister got all the sewing.  The other can do both but grudgingly so.  The other two are pretty useless with both but I'm sure they must have picked up a trait somewhere in there. 

So baking today has taken me on a journey that I did not expect.  I felt good because I was doing something I loved.  At the same time it made me think of my Mom and made me a little sad that I couldn't call and share it with her. It didn't help that I was listening to Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson  and Etta James....also my Mom's favorites.   But as with most things, I work hard to turn that into a positive.  I have nothing but fond memories of baking with her.  We always had fun in the kitchen.  Even those pressing moments and short tempers when we were working on a particularly large dessert menu for the holidays.  Those late nights made for sharp-tongued words for anyone that came in to steal a taste or offer up their opinion.  Nope...that was never acceptable! 

Then there was the time I was helping her mix several sweet potato pies for church and we were chatting.  I wasn't paying attention and got my finger caught up in the beaters. Well, that resulted in a trip to the ER to remove the screw from my finger and get stitches.  Upon returning home, my Dad thought it would funny to pretend I lost my finger.  He instructed me to look sad and bend my finger before showing my sisters and brothers.  They were horrified and my little sister cried.  My Mom just shook her head and told them we were just joking.  I didn't realize it at the time but my Mom made sure this wouldn't discourage me.  We cleaned up and got right back in the kitchen to start new pies.  She was just cool like that.

Through baking I have also been blessed to come across some good people who also share this love.  My friend T is always open to trying a new recipe.  Luckily she also has a willing preteen daughter that lets her sample without always having to do the work. Beverly, my friend from my days at the doughnut shop, is a wonder in the kitchen.  I can't even begin to think I have even half her skills but it gives me something to strive for.  She is and always will be one of the greatest bakers I know.  Definitely up there with my Mama.  Big props to you Bev!  It is with good memories that I use my Mama's recipe today.  Like her I'm not a big fan of making lowfat cakes (unless of course it's and Angel Food).  So if you try it, you might want to plan some extra time in the gym.
Well, looks like the cake is done! Not the prettiest but it is moist and not too sweet.   My Mama would be proud.

Quote of the Day: I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation. ~Madam Benoit

Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 C. Unsalted Butter (room temp)
8 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
2 1/2 C. Sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
6 Eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. lemon extract
3 C. Sifted Flour
1 tsp. Salt

Mix the zest and sugar in a small bowl.  (I used a pestle to crush some of the zest into the sugar just so the oils would be released) and set aside.  Place the butter and cheese in large mixing bowl and mix until smooth.  Add the lemon sugar and mix on high until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each.  Add the vanilla and lemon extracts.  Finally add the flour and salt, mixing until combined.

Pour into two prepared 5x9-in loaf pans.  Bake 1hr 25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on rack 20 minutes and then remove from pans to completely cool.

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