America's sweet tooth isn't a recent development.
Amelia Simmons' "American Cookery" was delightfully heavy on cakes, puddings, pies, tarts and trifles. Cinnamon, nutmeg and mace were the most common spices, and rose water was used then much the way vanilla is now. Butter was used with glorious abandon, and even brandy made its way into the kitchen on occasion.
Chocolate, however, is never mentioned.
A cake she called "plain cake" is close to what is now called a poundcake. Her concise recipe was thus: "Three quarters of a pound of sugar, 1 pound of butter, and 6 eggs, worked into a pound of flour."
Here, it is written in a more contemporary formula a la Fannie Farmer, but the cake itself is classic and timeless, dense and rich with a velvety, fine crumb. The only addition is vanilla.
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, if desired
3 cups all-purpose flour
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 10-cup bundt pan.
Beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and beat on high speed until mixture is smooth, light and fluffy, five minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and continue to beat three minutes. Turn mixer to low; add flour and mix just until combined.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes. Cool in pan five minutes, then invert onto a wire rack.
Cool before serving.
Pub Date: 6/19/96