Food & Drink

Cakes help sweeten spring cleaning

During my latest round of spring cleaning, I came across my address book. It's filled with the addresses and phone numbers of friends and acquaintances made throughout my life.

Theodora Ashford is listed in the first pages of my address book. We grew up together in Columbia and met in the seventh grade. Her mother and mine were high school classmates. We attended colleges across the street from each other and attended the same church. After graduation from college, Theodora stayed in Columbia to teach. But our friendship continues.

I met another classmate of mine, Alginon Smith, when we were freshmen in an English 101 class at Allen University. He would leave after his sophomore year to return to New York to complete his education there. We were in and out of touch with each other.

Many times while we were students at Allen, my mama sent Alginon slices of cake. He would ask for a whole cake when he would go home for the holidays or when school term was over. It was just recently that Eva Samuels George, who also traveled to New York on the train, talked about the delicious cake Al would have that someone's mother had baked.

It was Al's intention to have some to share with his parents and siblings when he arrived, but as the story goes, there was not any left when he got there. When Eva was told my mama baked those cakes, Eva asked if I could bake as well. My answer: "I'll let you tell me after you've sampled my cakes."

While crossing the street in New York, Alginon had a stroke which ended his career as an educator. A classmate put the two of us back in touch and we began writing, calling and sharing the news about schoolmates and family. Alginon passed away in November 2010.

I remember Al when I bake cakes. Here are some favorite cake recipes to get you through your spring cleaning.

Cold Oven Cake

1 cup butter

2 2/3 cups sugar

5 eggs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup self-rising flour

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add flours alternately with milk. Blend well after each addition. Add vanilla, lemon and almond; blend well. Stir in baking powder. Pour batter into greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Place in cold oven. Turn oven to 325 degrees and bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Pound Cake

1 pound butter, softened

1 box (4 cups) powdered sugar

6 eggs

1 pound flour

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 250 degrees.

Begin with butter at room temperature. Add the sugar. Beat eggs separately and add one at a time to the butter-sugar mixture. Add the flour and vanilla extract. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Bake in a tube pan for 1 1/2 hours.

Plain Butter Cake

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup milk

1 3/4 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat ovet to 350 degrees.

Cream the shortening and gradually add the sugar. Add the eggs, which have been well beaten, and the vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add the milk alternately with the flour mixture. Beat just enough to blend thoroughly. Pour batter into a greased and floured pan. Bake for 1 hour.