Indian Pound Cake
Posted by bakinghistory on August 15, 2007
This is a lovely variation on traditional American pound cake, made entirely with very fine cornmeal–once called Indian meal. It has a delicate, velvety texture and the delicious flavor of butter, corn, and nutmeg.
From the original recipe by A Lady of Philadelphia (Eliza Leslie)
In “Seventy-Five Receipts, for Pastry, Cakes, And Sweetmeats” 1828 –USA
the weight of 8 eggs in sugar (1 lb–454 g)
the weight of 6 eggs in very fine cornmeal (corn flour) (12.5 oz.–354 g) + a little extra for the pan
1/2 lb (2 sticks–227 g) butter
1 pinch salt
1 whole nutmeg or 1 tsp (2.3 g) ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C). Generously butter a 5.4 x 9.1-inches loaf pan (13.6 x 23.2 cm), then sprinkle with corn flour, shaking off excess. Lining the pan with aluminum foil (buttered and floured as well) makes it easier to unmold the cake.
Grate the nutmeg, if using it, then mix it with the sugar. Pulverize the sugar mixed with nutmeg in a food processor or coffee grinder. If you use cinnamon instead mix it with the pulverized sugar at this point.
Cream the butter, then gradually add the powdered, flavored sugar to the creamed butter and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs two at a time alternating with the corn flour (to which you have added the salt). Add the corn flour to the butter mixture through a fine sifter. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula once in a while to mix everything properly. Beat the mixture on high speed until light and creamy, for at least 7 minutes.
Delicately pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour–a cake tester must come out clean. If the top browns too quickly, lightly cover with a piece of aluminum foil.
Let the cake cool in the pan placed on a rack for about 10 minutes, then take it out of the pan and let it finish cooling on the rack. It will be fragile while still hot.
The cake should be made 1 day ahead to be at its best. It stays moist and fresh for a few days if kept wrapped in aluminum foil, and its flavor improves.
Notes: It is important for achieving the right texture to use very fine corn flour, not fine corn meal, which is still too gritty. If you don’t find corn flour, you can process fine cornmeal in the food processor. Also pulverizing the granulated sugar is essential as well as it is sifting the flour while you add it to the batter.
The oven temperature must be no more than 325 °F (170° C), or the cake will develop a hard brown crust too soon and remain raw in the center.
Miss Leslie indicated only nutmeg and cinnamon as flavorings, but I also tried with anise, lemon zest and almond extract and all work well.