Pound cake – simple to make and a delicious treat any time of day! This is my go-to Pound Cake, an old recipe from The Commander – a storied hotel in Maryland – now sadly gone.
As noted on Oldlineplate.com:
Ocean City remained a sleepy little beach town. When John B. Lynch, his wife Ruth, and his mother Minnie built the Commander Hotel on 14th street in 1930, it was a bit of a risky prospect. On the northernmost end of the “city”, the property was beyond the end of the boardwalk and a bit out of the way.
In 1933, an August hurricane changed everything. Residents watched as huge waves battered the barrier island, buildings washed away, and the boardwalk was destroyed. Thirteen lives were lost, and the road and railways linking the island to the mainland were no more. At the south end of the island, the Sinepuxent Bay washed a stretch of land out into the ocean, creating an inlet directly from the Atlantic to the bay.
Fishermen were overjoyed at this last bit. No longer would they have to drag their ocean catches across the island to the safe harbor of the bay. Federal funding was quickly secured to preserve the inlet from filling back up with sand. The new inlet became a crucial fishing port. Ocean City was now much more than a sleepy resort; it was the “White Marlin Capital of the World,” attracting sport and commercial fishermen. In the year 1939, 161 white marlins were caught – two by President Roosevelt.
The Commander Hotel proved to be a gamble that paid off. It was expanded over the years and incorporated attractions like clambakes and dinner theater.
The hotel was known for their food; three meals were included with the price of a room. Sometimes, guests enjoyed clams and corn served at long tables on the beach, or they dressed up in coats and ties to have dinner in the dining room in the evenings.
John Lynch, Jr., the son of founders John & Ruth Lynch, contributed this Peach Brandy Pound Cake recipe to the 1995 book “Maryland’s Historic Restaurants and Their Recipes,” noting that in addition to the cake being a favorite in the Commander’s dining room, his own family enjoys it around Christmas.
And it is indeed a great pound cake – moist, flavorful, and just sweet enough.
The old Commander Hotel was torn down in 1997 to make way for something larger and more modern. By this time, hotel meals were no longer an important part of vacationer’s stays, with the plentiful restaurant options in town.
The current building fits in with the other large hotels full of generic rooms that serve more as a place to stay than a destination in itself. Guest Norris Lanford recalled as much on eve of the hotel’s demolition: “I didn’t go to Ocean City. I went to the Commander Hotel.”
The use of peach brandy, rum and several flavor extracts add an old-school touch, helps keep the cake moist and brings an additional dimension of flavor.
Try this and experience the true joy of a well-made cake! You can add some sliced strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream if you want to gild the lily, but I enjoy mine au naturel!
One delicious change I recommend to this recipe for extra moistness is to substitute 1 cup of almond flour for the regular flour, but even if you choose not to follow this suggestion, it’s still moist and delicious! 🙂
These Pound Cake tips from Bon Appetit are very helpful!
1. Don’t Just Scoop Your Dry Ingredients
“Whisk your dry ingredients to remove lumps,” says Saffitz, “Then use the fluff, spoon, and level method.” The what? To execute this technique, use a fork or whisk to fluff up the flour, then spoon it into the measuring cup. Finally, level it with a knife. This method is superior to the scoop method, because simply dunking and filling the measuring cup can result in too-densely packed flour.
2. Let Your Eggs and Butter Come to Room Temperature. If They’re Not…Wait!
Not only should your eggs and butter be at room temperature, but they should also all be the same temperature. Adding cold eggs to warm butter will cause them to seize. Set the eggs and butter out on the counter for several hours before you plan to bake. Also, never cheat by softening butter in the microwave. It will get too hot—and partially melted butter doesn’t perform properly in the creaming stage.
3. Take the Time to Thoroughly Cream Your Batter
This is the most important tip to remember for perfect pound cake. How do you know if your ingredients are “thoroughly” creamed? Expect to use your stand or electric mixer for at least five minutes—or more. Don’t stop when the mixture looks combined. “It should be very pale in color; almost white,” Saffitz explains. And yes, you really do need to use butter for pound cake. The sharp edges of the sugar granules slice through butter, creating air pockets that expand further when baked. Only butter captures and holds these pockets, so there really is no substitute. (Well, except for coconut oil, which performs similarly.)
4. …But Don’t Overmix
Once your butter and sugar are creamed, add the dry ingredients in stages. Saffitz recommends stopping the electric mixer when you begin to see white streaks running through the batter. Use a wide spatula to gently fold in the rest of the flour. “Gently” is key here; overmixing with a heavy hand will cause the batter to deflate, and all your hard work creaming will be reversed. The result will be a dense, tough cake.
5. Never Forget to Butter and Flour Your Pan
Use softened butter to grease the entire interior of your loaf pan. You can apply the butter with a pastry brush, a wad of wax paper, or just your fingers—but be sure to coat every crevice, including the corners and seams where the edges meet the bottom. Then add flour and turn the pan to coat it entirely. Turn the pan upside down and tap it gently to remove excess flour, rotating the pan as you tap. “Think of the butter and the flour as ball bearings between the cake and the pan,” says Saffitz.
6. Don’t Overbake Your Cake
A steady 325-350 degrees is ideal when it comes to baking pound cake. Position the pan in the middle of the oven, and rotate it once, halfway through the baking time, as it bakes to account for any hot spots. To ensure that the heat of the oven circulates properly around the cake, do not bake anything else in the same oven—those roasted veggies will have to wait.
As soon as the kitchen begins smelling delicious, insert a cake tester or toothpick into the thickest part. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Most pound cake recipes should be baked for over an hour, but don’t be shy about testing it as soon as it begins to smell. What about cracked tops? “Don’t worry about it,” says Saffitz. A cracked dome is an indication of a job well done when creaming: The air pockets that you worked so hard to create are what caused the cake to expand.
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