Don’t we all have days when it feels as if we can’t do anything right? I know I do, but then something happens such as what happened yesterday afternoon.
A woman calls me, all the way from Oklahoma, and asks me if I can find a recipe that ran “years ago” in the Washington Post. She said the recipe, for a cold oven pound cake, was submitted by a Roanoker.
Several facts about this query did not give me much hope. When people tell me the recipe ran “years ago,” my heart usually sinks a little. And when she said it ran in the Washington Post, it sank a little lower. We don’t archive articles from other papers, and our electronic archives only go back to 1990. But I so love to find long-lost recipes, and I’ve heard of cold oven pound cakes before, so I went digging.
I didn’t have to dig long. Apparently, this is a legendary recipe. In 2000, one of my predecessors on the food beat, Nancy Gleiner, wrote about the same request from a different person in her column, Potluck Q&A. And the response was overwhelming. So many recipes came in that Nancy ended up printing the one most similar to all the others, then listing the substitutions and changes.
On the chance that one of you is looking for this recipe or would like a good new pound cake recipe, I’ll share all of that information below. Apparently, this recipe was meant to be found!
When Norine Hanson of Sacramento, Calif., wrote “Virginia cooks are some of the very best” in her letter requesting a recipe for Cold Oven Pound Cake, she probably had no idea how many people would take the time to send in their recipes. The response was amazing. All of the letters readers sent in will be forwarded to her. Many of the recipes were similar. Below are the most common ones with variations noted.
By Nancy Gleiner
Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2000
From Anita Cauley of Hot Springs:
Cold Oven Pound Cake
2 sticks butter or margarine
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
3 cups flour
Cream butter, shortening and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Add flavoring. Add flour and milk alternately. Pour into well-greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Turn oven to 325 degrees after placing cake in oven. Bake 1 1/2 hours.
The following are variations on this recipe:
- Brenda Burrows of Marion uses 4 eggs and an additional teaspoon of lemon extract. She bakes the cake for 1 hour at 325 degrees, then at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Frances Johnson of Covington uses only Crisco for the shortening and adds 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, only 1/2 teaspoon lemon flavoring and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Her recipe came from the Millboro Church Cookbook.
- The recipe from the Montgomery Museum and Lewis Mill Regional Art Center in Christiansburg was sent in by Ruth Shelor of that town. It included 2 sticks of whipped margarine in place of non-whipped and icing made with stick margarine, 1 box confectioner’s sugar and the juice and rind of 1 orange.
- Barbara Stokes of Thaxton uses only 1/4 cup of shortening and adds the eggs all at once, creaming the first four ingredients together until light and fluffy. She sifts the flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and a dash of salt three times, then adds that and 1 cup of milk to the creamed mixture. The flavored extracts are added last.
- Stella Woolwine from Roanoke sent in a recipe from Montvale’s Walnut Grove Union Church’s cookbook. It included 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. She cautioned, “Do not open the oven while the cake is baking because the cake will fall.”
- Roanoker Juanita Conner’s recipe included 1 cup margarine, 1/2 cup butter and 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese. She uses 6 eggs, rather than 5.
- Velma Goad of Salem uses 1 teaspoon almond flavoring and also sifts the dry ingredients three times. She puts waxed paper on the bottom of the tube pan and wrote, “Do NOT use baking powder or soda.” She said the cake comes out very crusty.
- Peggy Hubbard of New Castle sent in a recipe from the Church of God of Prophecy cookbook. She uses 6 eggs, a dash of salt and bakes the cake in a 300-degree oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- Ann Looney of Roanoke’s recipe called for 1 2/3 cups sugar, 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract. The eggs are added two at a time, along with 1/2 to 1 cup of flour. “End with one egg,” she wrote, “and do not mix or beat mixture hard. Test for doneness with a straw.”
- Marlene Perrott of Roanoke sent in Sister Mary Eugenia’s Sour Cream Pound Cake, which is also placed in a cold oven. The recipe calls for 6 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 8 ounces of sour cream. Add eggs one at a time; add a little sour cream at a time, alternating with the flour mixture. The recipe suggests sprinkling the cooled cake with confectioner’s sugar.
- Carol Wyrick of Dublin recommended using milk, butter and eggs right out of the refrigerator.
- Margaret Atkinson of Blacksburg mentioned the cake freezes well.
If you have yet another variation or some experience with cold oven pound cakes, please chime in!