A Perfect Coconut Pound Cake Recipe and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Okay, I admit it. I’m longing for spring. I want to look out my kitchen window and see the bush lupine blooming by the fountain.

But as it is we’ve had snow, and while it is really beautiful, I want to feel that first balmy spring breeze, pick daffodils for the table and start planning the vegetable garden. Sigh . . .

And I want to see my steer Big Mac hoof deep in high, green grass. Isn’t he sweet? He’s kind of like a house cat only 1000 pounds heavier and with horns.

Speaking of pounds . . .

Last week I promised to give you my friend Peggy’s Coconut Pound Cake recipe. I should have known from the first bite that she’d uncovered every southern woman’s secret ingredient. But, nah I told myself. Peggy wouldn’t touch the stuff with a ten foot pole. First of all, she’s a nurse. Second, she’s trim, athletic, does Pilates, Yoga, you name it.

“Tell me the truth, Peggy,“ I demanded, “You DID NOT use CRISCO in your pound cake.”

“Oh yeah, I did. You can’t make a pound cake without it.”

I should also add that Peggy’s an outstanding cook. She knows these things. She knows about CRISCO. Now, I have to wonder if she keeps the leftover bacon grease in a coffee can on the stove. I soooo doubt it, but if any of you are from the south, you’ll know exactly what I mean. My mother and grandmother put two tablespoons of that stuff in EVERYTHING whether it needed it or not.

Anyway, this pound cake is scrumptious. Just like my grandmother’s. The next time I make it (three months from now when my cholesterol levels have come back down) I’m going to eliminate the coconut. NOT that I don’t LOVE it the way it is, because I do, but Rich from my book group doesn’t like coconut, if you can imagine, and I want to serve this cake with Russian tea next time. You see, we’re reading Anna Karenina by Tolstoy—the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation. I’m going to replace the coconut with two tablespoons of cognac and a teaspoon of lemon zest. I’ll let you know how it works out. Meanwhile unless you, like Rich, have some weird aversion to coconut, try this recipe! You won’t be sorry.

Peggy’s Coconut Pound Cake

2 sticks (1 and 1/2 lb.) butter, softened
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening. (That’s the secret code for Crisco)
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour ( I sift before measuring and then sift again)
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 TBSP coconut flavoring
1 tsp. almond extract
3 and 1/2 oz flaked coconut ( I use Angel Flake)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch Bundt cake pan or a tube pan. ( Don’t use the spray. You really have to grease this guy.) In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and shortening with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs two at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the milk and the flavorings. Beat in the flour alternately with the liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the flour. Fold in the coconut. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake 1 1/2 hours, or until the cake shrinks slightly from the sides of the pan. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack right side up, and allow to cool completely.

Well, with all the snow and no sign of spring, reading is keeping the cabin fever at bay.

Here’s another book for the chai tea (from last weeks blog)/ coconut pound cake theme: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Here’s what Ron Charles of the Washington Post said about it last March . . .

“With two months till Mother’s Day, there’s no excuse for another last- minute FTD bouquet of dyed carnations: Get mom a copy of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Bethesda writer Helen Simonson. This thoroughly charming novel wraps Old World sensibility around a story of multicultural conflict involving two widowed people who assume they’re done with love. The result is a smart romantic comedy about decency and good manners in a world threatened by men’s hair gel, herbal tea, and latent racism . . . ”

I’d like to add there’s NEVER an excuse for a bouquet of dyed carnations! Gad! Horrors!

This book has all the sugar and spice of chai tea and the heavier substance of poundcake. The book, the tea and the poundcake belong together.

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