Monday, August 24, 2009

1-2-3-4 Cake

Grandma Helen introduced me to this fabulous pound cake called a 1-2-3-4 cake. Her mother Rowena made it for her when she was growing up. Interestingly, Grandpa's mother Laily also made a 1-2-3-4 cake that was almost identical. This is Laily's recipe, it uses buttermilk instead of the sweet milk that Rowena's recipe uses, I think Rowena's called for beaten egg whites too which is why I use Laily's. Why beat egg whites if you don't have to?
I have been baking this cake for about 6 years now and when I can I save a couple of slices to send Grandma and Grandpa. Several weeks ago, I baked the cake featured above and thought to myself that it was quite good so I sent some to Grandma when my mother-in-law went to see them. Two days later, Grandma called to talk about the cake. It seems that I did something right. She informed me that she had sampled my 1-2-3-4 cake several times in the past and it just wasn't quite right, she didn't know what I did differently but this cake tasted just like it should, just the way Laily's did. She thinks it had something to do with my pan but she wasn't sure. In fact it tasted so right that she ate her piece and Grandpa's piece, she did give him a bite though.
Now, it may sound a bit harsh to call someone and tell them that their cake was perfect unlike the other cakes they had made which were not perfect but let me tell you, it was a high compliment coming from Grandma! She is the reigning authority on the family recipes and she has no problem setting you straight about how things should be. Her commentary has made me smile over and over ever since I talked to her. Also, everyone in the family knows about the perfect cake and feels that they must now produce one of their own. Good luck to them, I have the magic pan!

Grandma Laily's 1-2-3-4 Cake

1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
3 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Actually, the original recipe calls for half butter and shortening but I am a butter girl. Hmmm, that sounds kind of weird.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well before adding the next egg. Sift the dry ingredients and add alternately with the buttermilk and vanilla. When you use this method, you want to begin and end with dry ingredients. So I do the dry ingredients in three parts and the buttermilk in two parts. Mix each addition in quickly and fairly gently, you don't want to really beat it. On the last addition, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for about a minute to get the batter really smooth.
Pour the batter into a well greased and floured bundt pan or tube pan. Grandma uses a tube pan but I will always use this pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, hold your breath and turn it out onto a plate. A word about the batter. My mother instilled the fear of salmonella deep into my soul and I can't even bring myself to eat cookie batter but I could eat this batter with a spoon. It's so creamy and wonderful that I lick the spatula when my kids aren't looking. (I have to wait until they aren't looking because they know you will die if you eat anything with raw eggs in it. I'm teaching them well.) You can serve this any way you like, I made some lemon curd and served it with the cake and sliced strawberries. It's also divine toasted for breakfast. Make yourself one today and send me a slice, I'll tell you if you did it right!


Kristin said...

I'll have to try this on the inlaws. Yum! :)

God is in the small stuff said...

This looks so yummy! Rumor has it you might come down to see your mom soon, well, I guess you better bring one of your vintage aprons and whip up one of these desserts.(lol)

Rebekah said...

goodness gracious, this looks good! I'm trying this one soon! Thanks for sharing!!

I have a stoneware bundt pan, and I'm telling you, you will never look back once you try making cakes in that thing, they turn out so divine!