Perfect pound cake

This holiday weekend should have provided an opportunity to try out some new dishes.  Instead, I returned to something old for our Easter Sunday dessert.

I've received a lot of good recipes from both of my grandmothers over the years.  Indeed, Grandma's shortbread has already made an appearance on this blog.  However, nothing has been made quite so often in the Glennie household as the following recipe for pound cake, which comes down from family on my mother's side.  For such a seemingly simple recipe - a pound each of flour, sugar, butter and eggs, plus a few other bits and pieces - it is surprisingly hard to get it right.  Gramary is the only one who has managed to do it consistently, and I have spent years trying to live up to her standards.  If you don't follow the instructions to the letter, or leave it unattended in the oven for too long, you're likely to end up burning the top, or turning the cake out from the pan only to see half of it still stuck to the bottom.

However, the rare times when you do get it right - and last night was one of them for me - there is perhaps no cake so sublime.  It is light enough that you (almost) don't feel guilty having two or three pieces at a time, and has a lovely uncluttered sweet flavour that won't send you into a sugar shock.

There's a reason it is always first choice for birthdays and other special occasions in our house.

Ring-Mould Pound Cake

1 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 tsp ground mace
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted cake flour (I've never been able to figure out what cake flour actually is - something North American - but you can substitute with regular flour: just remove 2 tbsp for each cup)
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Sift the flour, mace, salt and baking powder three times.  Time-consuming and a little annoying, but whatever you do, don't skip this step. 

In a separate bowl, cream the margarine and the sugar.  Add the eggs to the mixture, beating after each one, and then do the same with the vanilla.

To this, add the flour mixture a little at a time, beating it in well.  As the mix starts getting stiffer, add in the milk and beat - alternate the two until the flour and the milk are used up and the mixture is a smooth and fluffy consistency.

Pour the whole lot into a greased and floured ring mould cake tin and spread it evenly - it should fill about 2/3 of the tin.

Here comes the hard part - judging how long and at what temperature to bake the cake.  Our original recipe says to bake it at 350 degrees for an hour and then at 300 degrees for a final five minutes.  But I'd keep an eye on it and check after 45 minutes to make sure it isn't burning.  Basically you're good to go when the top of the cake is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.  Leave it in the pan for 5 minutes after it comes out of the oven, and then invert on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.  Serve with fruit, ice cream, or nothing at all.  Preferably accompanied by a little Van Halen

Et voila!  Happy Easter, dear readers.