You guys, I’m so excited to share this recipe with you today! It’s an Old-Fashioned Pound Cake Recipe from Martha Washington that is nearly 250 years old. It is truly “an oldie, but a goodie”.
For the past 20 years during our March spring break from school, I have taken a group of up to 200+ middle schoolers on a trip to Washington, D.C. Obviously, we aren’t going this year because of COVID. Last year, we had to pull the plug on the trip literally hours before boarding the plane on March 13, when the whole world started shutting down. ☹️
I didn’t know it at the time, but our 2019 trip would be the last time for quite awhile that I’d get to visit one of my very favorite places– George Washington’s Mount Vernon. On that trip, I purchased this fabulous book– Dining with the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Entertaining, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon.
If there ever was a book made for me, this is it. It’s filled with incredible pictures of Mount Vernon itself, including the gardens, which are stunning. It includes typical menus of the Washington family, photos of their antique dinnerware, stories from the many parties they held and people they hosted, and several old recipes from Washington’s time. It’s an absolutely beautiful book.
Since purchasing it, I’ve read each story with avid interest, and swooned over many of the antiques pictured. Now, I intend to cook my way through the book, with the first recipe being Martha’s Old-Fashioned Pound Cake!
Martha Washington’s Old-Fashioned Pound Cake Recipe
This cake is the epitome of “pound” cake. It contains a literal pound of butter and six whole eggs. It definitely is one of those things that you save for a rare treat. And trust me, this cake IS a treat. It’s dense, and rich and buttery. Oh my word. This is truly a cake fit for Washington’s table.
Making Martha’s Old-Fashioned Pound Cake Recipe
Sift the flour and nutmeg together and set aside.
Cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs– SIX of them 😳– one at a time, mixing well after each. Then, slowly add the flour mixture, a little at a time, continuing to blend until combined.
Now the brandy! The Washingtons liked their liquor! 🥃
Smooth the batter evenly into a well-greased Bundt pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, checking for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center.
Let it cool in the pan a bit before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. It will be heavy, like a true old-fashioned pound cake should be!
When it was completely cooled, I displayed mine on the Adams & Co. Clear Ribbon cake stand (circa 1881) that I inherited from my mother. My history-loving heart was swooning over this. I mean, how cool–An almost 250 year-old recipe displayed on my 140 year-old cake stand. Am I the only one who loves things like this? ❤️
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But really, the bottom line is how it tastes, right?
It’s dense and rich, with just the right amount of spice from the nutmeg, and a little hint of the brandy flavor coming through.
The book suggests serving it with a “boiled custard” as a topping (that recipe is also included in the book), but we enjoyed it plain. It’s perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. If you wanted to jazz it up, you could serve it with a dollop of whipped cream, some sliced betteries, or even a drizzle of caramel. I don’t think Martha would mind. 😂
Old-Fashioned Pound Cake
- Bundt Pan
- 2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks)
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour sifted
- 1½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp lemon zest freshly grated
- ¼ cup brandy
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan with vegetable shortening. (I used cooking spray)
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, (or beat by hand in a large bowl), cream the butter until light and fluffy.Add the sugar gradually while continuing to beat.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in each one thoroughly before adding the next.
- Sift the flour with the nutmeg, and gradually add to the butter and sugar, mixing in each addition thoroughly before adding more.
- Add the lemon zest and brandy, mixing until well-combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Without a doubt, this is a cake worthy of being on the Washington’s table, and now it can be on yours, too. 🥮 🇺🇸
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