One of my most treasured cookbooks was given to my parents possibly before I was even born. They were friends with one of the authors, and I guess it was a ‘Hey, just wrote a cookbook!’ gift. You can see by looking through the torn apart pages scribbled with blue ink drawings that I was particularly fond of the book (I used to scrawl my name on the inside cover of my favourites). With recipes including foolproof fudge, carrot cake, meatloaf, shrimp jambalaya and sloppy Joe I’m sure you can understand why I favoured this book.
Yet one recipe has remained to be my favourite over the years -Aunt Lee’s Plain Cake. It’s my go-to cake. Every time I’ve made it and regardless of how I tweak the flavours, the compliments roll in. Perfect for tea time, or with a hot cup of coffee.
This twist on the classic pound cake calls for the addition of vanilla bean and fresh pear. Perfect for the spring and great eaten outside in the afternoon sun.
Adapted from American Home Cooking – Aunt Lee’s Plain Cake
- 225g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 420g icing sugar
- 4 eggs
- 350g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 225ml milk
- 2 ripe Pears, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or extract.
Preheat the oven to 180°c and prepare either one 10″ cake tin, or two smaller tins.
Add the softened butter to a large bowl and sift in the icing sugar. Beat together until fluffy and creamy (place a clean dish cloth over the bowl to stop the icing sugar covering your entire kitchen..!). Next beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking power. Add the sifted flour to the egg mixture, and then a little milk alternating, folding in with each addition. Finally add the vanilla bean paste and fold in the pear.
Pour into your prepared baking tins and bake in the oven for 1 hour (2 smaller tins) or 1 and a half hours for one larger 10″ tin. In order to keep the cakes really moist, I fill a small baking tray with about 1-2 inches of boiling water, and place it on the bottom of the oven for the whole duration of cooking.