When Ragan and I meet with clients, they often ask how we got interested in catering and cooking. Well…here is my story! I grew up cooking with my mom in the kitchen and learning the fine art of grilling from my dad. My mom made Spaghetti Sauce with chicken and Italian Sausage. I can remember it stewing ALL DAY LONG! Standing on a chair, leaning over a pot of tomatoes, oregano, basil, and pure yumminess! I would always sneak in the kitchen and grab a bite of sausage…it was sooo tasty! When I came home from college on weekends, my mom made Spaghetti with Italian Sausage. My dad made the best grilled chicken anyone has tasted…he still does. Salad dressing in my house didn’t come from any “Hidden Valley”. I learned from day one how to make salad dressing from scratch…olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic. We didn’t make the salad dressing; We dressed the salad!
I also learned at a very early age that when one is making Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies and has two older brothers, making a Double Batch is mandatory! My brothers would come into the kitchen and easily put a half batch of raw cookie dough into their mouths before I could stop them. I used to store (Hide) the cookie dough in the fridge for an hour or two before baking (cold cookie dough bakes so much better)…when I would come back to scoop the cookies, half of it would be gone! Aggghhh! Hiding the dough didn’t work; there are only so many hiding places in a 1980’s fridge!
My first “entrepreneurial” venture was making Sour Cream Pound Cakes! I took orders from friends and family at Christmas for $25 a cake! I was so excited…until, I spent 4 straight days and nights in my mom’s kitchen with a very small Kitchen Aid Mixer, a double set of convection ovens, and 10 bundt pans (you will see them below!) Wow! Was it really worth it? Well…yes! I took that money and traveled across the country for 3 months seeing the sites, eating on a propane stove, sleeping in rest areas & campsites, showering every week or so, and loving every minute of it!
So, this week, I returned to my roots! I made Strawberry Sour Cream Pound Cakes for an upcoming wedding and decided to document the baking! This is the same recipe my mom taught me when I was 15. I have made HUNDREDS of Pound Cakes (I feel like I could say THOUSANDS, but I’m not sure you would believe me!) I know the recipe by heart and can quote it in my sleep! Here are the details and phrases that stick with me!
The first step is to Whip the Egg Whites! If I learned anything from my mother when I was making these Pound Cakes, it was how important it is to beat the egg whites in a cold bowl! The time frame on the whipping can change dramatically if you are in a humid kitchen with a room temperature bowl! And, my mother would pretty much cry if any bit of Whipped Egg Whites did not actually make it into the finished cake! I believe to this day that whipping the whites was her favorite task!
Cream the Butter, Sugar, and Egg Yolks! They need to be fluffy! (I think of this EVERY time I am baking a cake!) Mom made this clear…FLUFFY!
This week, I added fresh strawberries! OMG! Such a great idea! First, I put them in the food processor and pulsed it for a few seconds. Adding it after the “Butter, Sugar, and Egg Yolks are fluffy” worked perfectly! I was a little scared of the color, but went with it knowing the end result would be perfection!
The next step is to add the dry ingredients alternating with the Sour Cream! So, this step is quick and you can over-mix! So…no pictures! But, I did get a nice photo of the finished batter (egg whites are about to be FOLDED into the batter) in the pan. Now, these pans have been with me since I was 15 years old! I tried buying bundt pans from William Sonoma. I tried buying bundt pans from K-Mart. These pretty green and red pans came from…K-Mart! They are the best cake pans I have ever used! They have helped produce HUNDREDS of Pound Cakes! Only a baker understands the connection with a good pan!
So, into the oven they go! When I was 15 and shuffling Pound Cakes into my mother’s double ovens, it was a chore to remember which ones went in first. A Bamboo Skewer is the best way to test a cake…lesson learned! There was just enough room in the two ovens for me to constantly be mixing batter and putting them into the oven. As soon as the oven was full, a cake was ready to come out! This oven we have now would have come in handy!
And, Now…the finished product! And, they are goooood! Golden Brown and they popped right out of the pans! My favorite part of these cakes is the crust on top…The cake is moist and perfect, but the best part is the crust! I have never understood when kids didn’t like the crust on the bread!
Finished Strawberry Sour Cream Pound Cake! Delicious! The last step is to sift Powdered Sugar over the top just before serving.
My mom taught me to love cooking…fresh ingredients, time, passion, and enjoyment!
Thanks Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!