Looking for baking inspiration on a rainy day, I was thumbing through some of my favorite cookbooks when I remembered that I just recently unpacked my grandmother’s recipe file. It’s truly a thing of beauty.
The pages are lightly browned with age and falling out, the torn tabs range from “_heese and Egg Di__es” to “Pies and Pastri__,” and all the while my grandmother’s perfect script rolls across the pages. Magazine and newspaper clippings are tattered and falling out from behind their dividers. The advertisements from her magazine recipes make me smile — with a grinning 50’s housewife and lines like, “Everyone loves you when you bake cookies,” and “Sweet treats with marshmallows please everyone.” And of course, there’s a section towards the back labeled “Party Menus” with hostess tips from Ladies’ Home Journal and luncheon menu ideas carefully recorded in that handwriting that sometimes feels like a foreign language to me.
When I see splashes and spots staining the pages, I like to imagine my grandmother standing in her kitchen, elegantly dressed in an apron covering a long, full skirt and blouse with pumps. And when some of the recipe spills onto the page, she quietly exclaims, “Gosh darnit!” and wipes the page with her thumb. She would be emulating Julia Child and would never dream of preparing the 50’s style recipes touting speed with boxed mixes and canned goods — everything homemade.
Rather unlike my grandmother (I’m guessing) whenever I make a recipe, I always have an inclination to change something to give it my own flare. In the case of this pound cake recipe, I was planning on bringing it for a picnic, so I didn’t want to fuss with dressing up a plain pound cake with ice cream or jam. So I decided lemon with a hint of rosemary would give the cake an impressive, yet delicate fragrance. And a glaze was certainly in order — I settled on a honey lemon one to really make it sing.
For Baking Nerds:
Other than those additions, I made very few changes. She made a note on another pound cake recipe that baking powder is optional, so I left it out like she said, and it still got great lift.
Unfortunately Fortunately, I had to replace the Oleo with good butter (clearly a good choice). And I followed her instructions to separate the whites, beat them, and fold them in later, but I saw very little difference in the final result between that and simply beating your eggs for a minute or two after each addition. So it’s a “choose your own adventure” situation with the eggs!
I hope this pound cake warms your kitchen and your belly!
Lemon Rosemary Pound Cake with Honey Lemon Glaze
- 5 eggs, room temperature
- 11/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- Lemon zest & rosemary for garnish
For the Honey-Lemon Glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 to 11/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat your oven to 325 degrees.
Separate the eggs, and beat the whites in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the whites to a small bowl. Using the paddle attachment in the mixer, cream together the sugar, salt, butter, zest, and rosemary on high speed for 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula.
On medium speed, add the egg yolks to the mixture one at a time, beating for 1 minute between additions and scraping the bowl half way through and after the last addition. Add the vanilla until just incorporated. On the lowest setting, mix in the flour until 90% incorporated. Take the bowl off the mixer and fold in the whipped whites by hand with a rubber spatula, starting with half until mostly incorporated and then fold in the rest.
The mixture will be very thick. Scrape the batter into a buttered and floured metal loaf pan.
Bake the pound cake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.
To make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Microwave the honey and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice for 20 seconds (to liquify the honey). Whisk the liquid into the powdered sugar. Add another small splash of lemon juice if the glaze is too thick. It should be pourable, but still somewhat thick. (If it sits on top of itself when you try to drizzle it, add a little more lemon, but if it sits for a just a moment and then settles into the rest of the mix, that’s perfect.)
Pour the glaze over the cake and spread all over the cake to get nice droopy drips of glaze down the sides. Garnish the cake with fresh lemon zest and a small sprig of rosemary. Enjoy!