Grandmama Dexter’s Pound Cake

Stacy’s grandmother is said to have been one of the best cooks in the world. I can’t vouch for that, because by the time I knew her she was blind and her cooking skills had deteriorated somewhat- though she kept trying. Not only was she a good cook, but she was also very hospitable. Every Sunday she would whip up a huge meal, just hoping someone would come to her house after church for dinner! And they always obliged.

Most of her recipes were in her mind and cannot be replicated, but her her daughter, our Aunt Net, stood by her side watching carefully and recording measurements to make sure we would all be able to make this famous cake. Grandmama Dexter’s pound cake recipe also comes with a good testimony. She was a hard worker and extremely independent. Though blind, she lived on her own for many years until at the age of about 92 she had to go into a nursing home. Once when we went up to visit her, Stacy shared the good news about Christ with her- that we are all sinners; that God’s standard is perfection (of which every one of us falls short); that we were hopelessly lost and without hope; until God sent His only Son into the world. Jesus led a perfect life and yet was nailed to the cross. As 1 Peter 3:18 said,  “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to deathin the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,,,” When she heard this, slow tears rolled down her wrinkled cheeks and she said, “I’ve gone to church my whole life and have never heard this.” She repented of her sins, accepted God’s gift of salvation through faith in His Son, and embraced the wonderful grace of God through her Savior.

Grandmama has been with Jesus for about 32 years now, but this recipe for her moist, flavorful pound cake lingers on! We hope that you’ll enjoy it.

But first, here is a Baking 101 Tip: These are the differences various fats make in the tastes and textures of cakes: Butter produces compact, fine-textured cakes which have less height and smaller crumbs. It also adds delicious flavor! Shortening makes cakes tall and light, as well as coarse, dry, and crumbly. Margarine creates moist cakes which are coarse and crumbly, but are not light and have larger air pockets. Oil cakes are moist, tall and light, slightly coarse, with open crumbs.)

Bring all cold ingredients to room temperature before making this cake!

Grandmama’s Pound Cake

Ingredients:
2 sticks butter (2 American size sticks equal 1 cup)
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs (1 at a time)
3 cups unsifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
First, cream the butter with the shortening; then add sugar and cream again. Sometimes I just use butter for the whole deal but the shortening does make for a nicer pound cake “crust” and adds to the rise.
Add the eggs one at a time. This is actually important so though you may just want to dump them in all at once, buck up and exercise some self-control here!
Add the dry ingredients. I’m not going to labor with showing you pictures of that process, but I did want you to see my new baking powder can. Sometimes it’s the little things! Our baking powder comes in tiny packages like this:
It is SUCH a hassle to use these tiny little packages of baking powder! But some friends were moving back to America and among the things they gave us was this can of baking powder:
Now I just keep refilling my can and I am SO happy about this. Yes, I know that this is blurry but sometimes you just have to brag a bit about God’s little daily kindnesses and provisions and this was the best photo I got. Ouch! 😉
Then add milk and extracts; mix until all is well blended. Prepare the pan with shortening and flour.
Pour in the luscious, buttery, velvety batter:
Stick into a COLD OVEN:
Notice- this oven has no bungie cord! Yes, we are moving on up and becoming very classy. Very. Well, yeah, it’s in our living room but….
Then turn oven to 325 degrees and bake for “about an hour”. Here’s the finished product:
OH MY GOODNESS! IT’S A MIRACLE! MY NEW OVEN IS AMAZING!!! Don’t buy that? Ok, ok! I made two cakes that day for my sweet husband’s sixtieth birthday party- one in the bundt pan and one in layers. This was the first time we had used this new oven that we bought used from the same friends who donated the baking powder can to our cause. Apparently, the thermostat is a bit off and my cake scorched on top. I scraped it off, covered it with icing, and it still tasted fine! But it wasn’t beautiful. Therefore, I’m sticking in this photo of the layered pound cake with chocolate icing used for Stacy’s birthday cake. While we usually eat this cake without icing (it makes an amazing strawberry shortcake), I also use it in making wedding cakes. Its moistness, density, and ease of handling create cakes of great structural integrity while the mild but distinct flavors show off many fillings, glazes, and icings to advantage.
Have a bite?
Can you taste the exquisite blend of vanilla, lemon, and almond and feel the smooth, fine texture? Mmmm….Grandmama Dexter would be proud;)
Meanwhile, here’s a bit of eye candy that was distracting me during the party, my grandson Josiah. Now THAT’S yummy!
He’s wearing the straw hat his granddaddy got for his birthday.
Then here’s the bit of eye candy that has distracted me for the past thirty-five years!
In China, men retire between fifty-five and sixty. Many of the “old men” go to the park in straw hats with their caged birds of a morning to chit chat, gamble, and just generally hang out! Our friends couldn’t resist getting Stacy his own straw hat and bird cage. Unfortunately, my photography for this whole post kind of stank- but you probably get my drift!
From China with love!
Pat

Family Chicken

Recipes float around the web, many of them trendy, some retro, and others really off-beat. Trying new ones can be risky. Have they been tested? Is the developer strong on the write-up, but weak on delivery? You can put all those questions to rest with this recipe. Found in a cookbook from 1899, it has been in Mom’s family for decades, and cooked so many times that it has come to be known simply as “Family Chicken.”

I ask you- Can a recipe this well-loved not be delicious?

In my whole life, I don’t think I’ve ever made one batch at a time of this marinade. People love it so much that we usually make 4-6 times the recipe, and then hope that we have a few pieces leftover to eat cold out of the refrigerator the next morning (many of our favorite way to eat it).

It only takes a few minutes to whip this together. Probably you have all of the ingredients already in your pantry. Here they are, so you can get started…

Who knew oil, vinegar, black pepper, salt, eggs and poultry seasoning could be so magical?

First, measure out the oil into your bowl…

If you’re worried about the amount of oil in this recipe, don’t be. It’s a marinade, and very little of it will be absorbed.

Next, dump in the vinegar…

It’s best with apple cider vinegar, but we didn’t have any. Rice vinegar will also work, in a pinch.

Then add salt…

Again, please don’t be concerned about the amount of salt in this recipe. Most of it will not be absorbed by the chicken. No matter how much you’re tempted, resist cutting down the salt from the prescribed amount. People have asked for this recipe in the past, and then complained that it didn’t taste like ours. When asked if they cut the salt, they always admitted that they had.

Next add pepper…

…poultry seasoning…

…eggs…

…and then whisk ingredients together…

until thoroughly combined.

Now grab a container of some kind (we used large jars, because they fit well into our fridge, held a lot of chicken, and kept all the pieces covered in marinade), and fill it up with chicken pieces.

Ladle marinade over the top…

…until all the chicken pieces are covered.

For the life of me, I couldn’t get a straight shot of this chicken. You’d think I was on a ship, not a balcony overlooking the river.

Make sure to marinate an abundance of chicken, and try to prepare it at least two days in advance, so it has plenty of time to soak up all that great marinade flavor.

We made four jars worth, to accommodate one of our large Sunday night crowds.

In passing, I think every ridiculously large mayonnaise jar secretly dreams of being filled with family chicken, don’t you? :)

As I said before, it’s best if you make it two days in advance, but you should at least let it marinate overnight before you cook it. We find that the chicken is best if it’s cooked outdoors and has that nice char-grilled flavor. However, it’s also acceptable to bake it in the oven until it’s golden brown.

You could serve it on your balcony overlooking the river, or you could do what we did and serve it to these friends…

…plus these friends…

…in addition to these friends…

…for Sunday dinner. Our friends here all love family chicken, and it’s hard to make enough so that we have a little left over to eat cold for breakfast. :) We’re glad to be able to share this special treat, passed down through Mom’s family, with our China family now. Maybe you should make some for your family this week!

Family Chicken-

1/2 cup oil

1 cup vinegar (preferably apple cider vinegar)

2 tablespoons salt (don’t scrimp!)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

Chicken pieces (I just realized I have absolutely no idea how much chicken 1 batch of marinade covers. Maybe 8 pieces? I’ve never made that little.)

Directions

Mix marinade ingredients together and whisk well. Place chicken in container and cover with marinade. Store in refrigerator for 2 days, shaking occasionally to redistribute ingredients. Bake or grill until golden brown and cooked through. Be sure to make plenty, because this chicken goes fast!

Mmmm- here’s a plateful of tangy, juicy, crispy perfection. Come on, join the family; make some Family Chicken for your loved ones! :)