Friday, April 15, 2011

Lemon Pound Cake with Lavender-Lemon Icing

A cake to celebrate that it's finally SPRING!

But first, a story.

Last week, my friend Caneel over at Mama Me Gluten Free posted a recipe about a yummy Peach Poppyseed Cake that is inextricably connected to memories of her late grandmother.

That made my own food/grandmother memories start exploding like fireworks in my mind.   

My daddy's mother, Momma Merle, was one of the most beautiful, gracious, patient, kind, gentle, and loving women on the face of the planet. 

Momma Merle in 1940
(17 years old)

The further I step into adulthood, the more I realize the amazing depth of her character and conviction of her faith.  Her life was not easy.  But despite her hardships, she was one of those women in whose presence you were able to breathe a little more deeply.  The aura surrounding her invited your heart to sit down and rest, "for pity's sake", as she would say. 

I could (and did) tell her everything.  She would sit in her armchair, sipping on either sweet tea or coffee, and I would sit at her feet and lean on her legs as she stroked my hair.  I can still smell her Ponds cold cream and her Tea Rose perfume.  Her East Texas drawl made me want to curl up into a ball in her lap; hearing it on the phone gave my soul a desire to crawl through the telephone wires just to be with her.

Momma Merle and Papa Pete
June, 1997

My blood pressure is dropping just by thinking of her. 

I inherited my serious addiction to dishes and creating a lovely home from both my mom and my Momma Merle.  My grandparents were never wealthy; Momma Merle scrimped and saved and bought many "dime-store" sets of china.  When I visited her, I would walk through the house, intensely looking at each cup and saucer, each spoon and embroidered napkin, running my fingers over them and memorizing every detail.  Until she could no longer walk because of Parkinson's, Momma Merle would stroll with me and tell me the story behind every piece.

I wouldn't trade these memories for all the proverbial tea in China.

When I was in college and just beginning to express an interest in cooking, Momma Merle began sending me her recipes.  I didn't always make the wisest decisions during those years (*sigh*), but thankfully I had enough smarts to save these family heirlooms written in her spidery handwriting.  

In October 2005, as she lay despondent and dying in a nursing home in Tyler, Texas, Chris and I stood by her bedside and I whispered into her ear that I was pregnant with our first child.  We didn't even know for sure was too early to even begin taking tests...but I had "that feeling" in my heart and wanted to share it with her before she passed.  She squeezed my hand.  I kissed her gorgeous forehead and ran out in the hall to cry. 

Life is sweet.  Life is hard. 

But were it not for the hard parts, would we appreciate its sweetness?

May I encourage you:  if you have a living grandparent who is dear to you, will you please look at your calender or Orbitz or Hotwire right now and make arrangements to go visit them?  I would do anything to visit with my grandparents (and my daddy) today.  To show them my boys.  To share my life with them.

Now, back to the cake.  This is Momma Merle's recipe.  I just added lemon zest and juice to the batter and then coated it with a lavender glaze. 

Last month I shared that we are doing a small addition to our home. 

The guys are out there working hard, and yesterday the sheetrock was delivered.

Right as I was in the middle of preparing this recipe and photographing each step, the builder knocked on the door and said they were going to have to bring the 12-foot long sheets through the house.  All 40 of them.  

So five burly (but very kind-hearted), older construction gentlemen were passing by my kitchen on the way to the addition.  I was catching snippets of conversation concerning fishing, the weather, guns, and power tools.

So you might know that I felt a wee bit conspicuous taking photographs of my mixer. 

"What in the world are you doin', woman?"

"Oh!  I'm a food blogger!" 

"A what?"

"A food blogger!  You know, I take pictures of my recipes and post them on my blog!"

"What the heck's a blog?"

Having gone through this hypothetical conversation in my mind, I just went ahead and put the camera down and made the cake, thinking sweet thoughts of Momma Merle the whole way through. 

(But not before capturing this series of photos...)

View of part of my living room from the kitchen...

I doubt those guys would have really noticed me after all. 

But still...  :)

Lemon Pound Cake with Lavender Icing
Makes two 9" x 5" loaves or 1 bundt cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
3 cups cake flour, sifted
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest from half a lemon
Juice from half a lemon (about 5-6 teaspoons)

Cream butter and shortening together.  Gradually add sugar - about 1/3 cup at a time, beating well (on medium speed) after each addition.  Add cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy.  Alternately add eggs and flour, beginning and ending with flour. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Pour batter into greased and floured pan(s).

Bake for one hour and 15 minutes* or until a wooden toothpick insereted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack. 

Glaze with Lavender-Lemon Icing.

*I made two 9 x 5 loaves and had to bake them for closer to an hour and a half. 

Lavender Lemon Icing
3 tablespoons Lavender Sugar (see below)
Zest from half a lemon
Juice from half a lemon (5-6 teaspoons)
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/8 cup milk (added in small increments)

Mix together all ingredients except the milk until a very smooth (but thick) consistency is reached.  Add the milk a teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached, adding more milk for a thinner glaze and less for a thicker glaze. 

Glaze pound cake, slice, and enjoy!

To make the Lavender Sugar...

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, grind 2 tablespoons of sugar with one tablespoon of culinary lavender blossoms.  (You can find them here.)

Enjoy this.

And please go kiss your grandmother if you can.
Linking up over at Sweet As Sugar Cookies...

Thanks, Lisa, for the invitation and for hosting the party...


Unknown said...

Ginny, I now see where both your inner beauty and your outer beauty come from!

Lisa said...

What a beautiful cake. I have no doubt that your yummy icing really takes this to the top. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link your cake up.

Caneel said...

Ginny! I LOVE this! It made me cry and laugh at the same time. I'm still crying, actually. I love you, dear friend - you have such beautiful posts! I can't wait to try a GF version of this special cake. :)

Cares and Mimi said...

I'm so glad I found your blog via Sweet as Sugar Cookies. Your cake looks so lovely and the lavender glaze would be so delicious!
Loved reading about your sweet Grandma. Your story touched my soul. - Cares

Heather -Gathering Spriggs said...

I remember meeting Mama Merle a couple of times and had the pleasure of going to her house once and it has stayed with me as a sweet fragrant memory of beauty and grace. You resemble your Mama Merle in more ways than you know.

Im with Caneel, cant wait to try it GF. :) Yum!

Kari said...

This recipe looks SO wonderful! I can't wait to try it! I'm a follower of your blog but I don't know if I've ever commented - so hello to you! :)