I don’t bake much, I’m not that crazy about cakes and pies or even cookies. But when I DO bake it’s usually sweet potato bread, a quick bread like banana or zucchini bread or a pound cake. I’m a real sucker for a dense, rich pound cake. I like a sour cream and I also like a lemon pound cake. Neither are too sweet and marry so well with berries and freshly whipped cream. When James was home for Christmas I made a few sour cream ones. Why? I just told you. Because James was home. I had been looking through some of my older cookbooks and the recipe just jumped out at me. My favorite sour cream pound cake recipe is Lee Bailey’s recipe from his book entitled “Country Desserts”. When one of his later books came out in the early 90’s, Jimmy suggested, “Would you like to go to Mizner this weekend? Lee Bailey’s signing that book you have. You can take it with you and have it signed. We’ll poke around the book store and then go someplace for brunch and Bloody’s. You want to?” Well, yeah! Back then Lee Bailey was my idol. A cute, Southern boy with style who could cook. That morning I took extra time getting ready. I tried on outfit after outfit. I HAD to look darling. I wanted him to know I was special. Not only could I cook but I ALSO had an eye for fashion. One look would speak volumes. I did my hair carefully so it looked full but not too big. And it had to be shiny. My makeup was meticulously applied. It would not do to have a heavy hand THAT day! When I finished my toilette, I grabbed my purse, and with book in hand, we were off to Boca. I didn’t say much during the drive to the bookstore. I have a tendency to get really quiet and lost in my thoughts whenever we get on a highway. And that day was no exception. I had so much to think about. And I was so nervous. What would I say? What could I say that would set me apart from all others?? How would he know that we were meant to be best friends? Oh, Lord. My heart was beating like a rabbit on crack. I just KNEW any minute Jimmy was going to turn to me and ask, “What IS that noise? Can you hear it? Is something wrong with the car?”. It was my heart pounding like a drum. And my hands were damp. We got to the bookstore, I took my place in line and Jimmy took off for the Urban Renewal department or something equally spellbinding. As I moved forward with my beautiful book, my heart raced and my thoughts were scattered and unfocused. All of a sudden I was standing in front of him. It was my turn. He looked up at me expectantly, I shot him my best, dazzling smile and handing him my book, started fawning. “Oh, Mr. Bailey! Thank you SO much for your beautiful books! They make me so happy! Even when I’m a little blue, I can look at your books and they just make me feel so much better.” He snatched the book out of my hands and snarled, “Don’t just look at the pictures! Read the books! Name?”, he snarled. “Alicia”, I replied quietly as was possible. “A-l-i-c-i-a”. In spite of the fact that my eyes had filled up with tears, I could still make out the look of irritation and the disdain he felt towards me as he scowled and thrust the book back. And then, HE DISMISSED ME BY LOOKING AWAY. I felt as though I had been slapped. No. I felt as though I was naked and in front of people had been slapped. I thanked him, after all, I AM a nice girl, and searched for Jimmy as quickly and inconspicuously as possible. Fighting back the tears, I found him and blurted out, “We have to go home. NOW.” God bless that man. He put his book right down and said “Okay”. I could tell he was searching my face trying to make out what had happened but he didn’t say a word. I fought the tears all the way home and never let them spill over until I was locked in the safe haven of my bathroom, my crying spot. Later, much later, I told him what had happened. I shelved the book with my other cookbooks and I didn’t take that book out again for at least another year. It was at least ONE YEAR before I took that book out and saw what he had written. He wrote, “For Alicia” and underneath signed “Lee Bailey”. He does have one good pound cake recipe, though. I don’t get that “hot” feeling anymore when I take out any of his books. I think I have them all. And now when I think of him I realize he was just an angry, fussy, old man.
This is one of those pound cakes that gets better after a day or two. And it freezes so beautifully. Just make certain it’s really well wrapped and date it. I haven’t changed much of the recipe. One time I inadvertently dropped an extra yolk into the sugar and have made it part of the recipe. It makes the cake moister and richer. Oh, and the recipe doubles well. I also use non-fat Greek yoghurt in place of sour cream but if you do that make certain it’s real Greek yoghurt. You need the thickness and tartness only true Greek yoghurt has. Paired with fresh berries or any fresh stone fruit slices, well, it’s just heaven on earth.
Lee Bailey's Sour Cream Pound Cake
- 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
- 2/3 cup sour cream or fat-free Greek yoghurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325°. Butter and flour, (I just use Pam), a 9X5-inch loaf pan or bundt pan of your choice. Set aside.
- Sift together flour and baking soda and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat well.
- Add one-third of the flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add one half of the sour cream and beat again. Continue with flour and sour cream until it’s all well mixed. Stir in vanilla.
- Beat the egg whites until very stiff and then carefully fold into the batter with an over-and-under motion.
- Pour into the prepared pan.
- Bake on the center rack of the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes, or until golden on top and cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan.
- Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack.
- Store in an airtight container. Freezes really well and indefinitely. It’s nice to always have one on hand!