Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Texas Pecan Cake

Wednesday is my Grandmother Cleo’s birthday- she would have been 95. I’m sad to say, I never made her a birthday cake while she was alive.

Both of my parents are only children, and for much of my life, my grandparents all lived in the same small town, roughly an hour and a half from Kansas City. When my grandparents were younger, they drove to KC to celebrate the holidays with us, but as we all became older, we went more often to celebrate down there. Because my birthday falls on or about the American holiday that prominently features turkey, too many of my birthday dinners also featured turkey. And pumpkin pie for dessert. I don’t remember when Cleo started making this cake for me each year, but I am willing to bet it was prompted by my complaints about the pumpkin pie.

I adore this cake. It is actually a fruit cake, but don’t let that deter you- it has NOTHING in common with the much maligned fruitcakes served at Christmas. Because it is a fruitcake, there is no icing- one of the reasons I love it so much. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and this cake is exactly sweet enough for me. After Cleo died, I missed it for several years. Last year, my sister J (Baker Extraordinaire) took pity on me, and made one for my 50th birthday. This year past birthday, my husband and daughter-in-laws came through for me. I love my family!

It’s a heavy cake; a little goes a long way. It does freeze well, and if it dries out too much to be good to eat plain, makes a wonderful addition to bread pudding. I always thought this was an old, secret family recipe, but apparently my grandmother cut it out of a women’s magazine. The golden raisins are important in this cake- dark ones just won’t do. But I have often thought that it would be pretty tasty with cranberries instead…

Texas Pecan Cake
1 lb Unsalted butter
2 cups Granulated sugar
6 Eggs, well beaten
1 tsp Lemon extract
4 cups Unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
4 cups Pecan halves
2 cups golden raisins
The recipe yield is: 10 Servings

Preheat the oven to 300F.
Grease and lightly flour a 9 3/4 in tube pan. Shake out any excess flour from the pan.

With a mixer or by hand, blend the butter and sugar together in a large bowl; beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Gradually add the eggs and lemon extract, and beat well. Sift the flour and baking powder together three times; add the nuts and raisins.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and blend well.

Pour the batter into the tube pan. Bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan. Serve it dusted with powdered sugar, if desired

Mary, over at Alpineberries has a recipe for a Red Velvet Cake that reminds me of Cleo, as well. I don't remember that she made them frequently, but she did make them. I didn't care for them- I was convinced, I think, that there were beets in there, and that turned me off. Now, however, I find them quite acceptable!

This ends my month of grandmotherly food. I had been thinking that I needed a theme for this food blog, but nothing was coming to mind. After struggling to meet the Grandma theme this month, I now know not to tie myself down to any theme. It was tough restricting myself, and there were lots of yummy dinners I wasn’t able to put up here because I was trying to stay with the Grandma deal. So- no more monthly themes for me! I’m free! (Gosh, who would have thought I would have trouble being restricted!)

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