My mom, Ruth, was a great cook. She wasn’t a gourmet cook, by any means, but was a really good Southern cook. Her fried chicken, for example, was out of this world, and now that she’s passed away, my sister and I find ourselves longing for a taste of it again! Neither of us have learned to do it like mama did it.
When I think about it, it’s surprising that mom turned out to be such a good cook. She didn’t have the typical 1950s upbringing. Her mother, Martha, had been orphaned at a young age; as an adult, she was a nurse, so worked full-time outside the home, (which wasn’t as common in the 1950s as it is now, of course). Cooking and baking hadn’t been taught to Martha, nor did she have time for it as a parent who worked. Martha’s daughters, then, did most of the cooking and cleaning, by their own admission rushing through their chores so they could have their cousins and friends over to dance on the front porch. Mama loved to do the twist. 🙂
When Ruthie got married, she had to learn to cook. She wanted to be a good housewife, so she bought cookbooks and a copy of Heloise’s Housekeeping Hints (I still have her copy!) A year later I was born, and as I was growing up, I remember mom cooking and baking and dad grilling pretty often. My first baking memory is mom making pies, and with the leftover pie crust dough she would make little strips and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on them and let me slide them into the oven on a cookie sheet. They were such a treat! I liked them even more than the pie.
One of mama’s recipes that I really enjoyed in later years was her sour cream pound cake. I don’t know where she got the recipe, but everyone loved it, and people from the church where we grew up in Florida often asked for her recipe, or just a cake from her oven!
My favorite thing to do when I make her pound cake is to slice it up and use it in strawberry shortcake. I’ve never liked those biscuit-type shortcakes, and angel food cake is a far-distant second to this pound cake, as far as I’m concerned. The cake is dense and smooth, and tender if you don’t 0ver-beat it. Now that it is strawberry season (I saw strawberries for $1/pint today in the grocery store!) I know some of you will want to whip up some homemade whipped cream and macerate some fresh berries to drizzle all over a nice slice of cake. Why don’t you try my mom’s recipe, and let me know how you like it?
Ruthie’s Sour Cream Pound Cake
3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups plain flour
1 cup sour cream
2 sticks butter
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, soda and salt. Set aside. In mixer bowl, cream the butter, and gradually add sugar; mix until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until well-blended. Add the sour cream and vanilla; mix into butter & sugar mixture. Gradually add the dry ingredients, blending well after each addition. (Do not overbeat! You just want to see that the batter is smooth and all ingredients have been incorporated. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or so.)
Pour into greased and floured bundt or tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
When cake is cooled, you should enjoy a slice with a cup of hot tea or coffee, make some luscious strawberry shortcake, or come up with some new ideas (that you should promptly share with me!) 🙂