Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aunt Mercee's Sour Cream Cake

While I have found many fantastic recipes in cookbooks, newspapers and magazines, some of the very best are passed from family and friends. And among family and friends, there are those who are - or were - great cooks, great bakers, or both, and probably had a "signature" dish or two that people always requested they make for gatherings. I know the my mom (who was not only a wonderful cook but also a terrific baker) received countless requests for her cheesecake, banana cake and something she called a "Mexican Wedding Cake." This is how it is; you make a dish that is a sensation and people want to come back to it again and again. It's a beautiful thing!

Ralph and his family have long talked about their Aunt Mercee's (short for Mercedes - she passed away in 2002) sour cream cake. Although Ralph's parents were Mexican, some of his mother's sisters married into Polish families. With these marriages came a wonderful sharing of culture and food. Sour cream, which is used in many Mexican dishes, is also prevalent in Polish eating. I often thought that one of the role of pierogies was to serve as a sour cream delivery system! But it also adds a great richness and moisture to baked goodies, which is why you see it in many recipes.

Ralph's family compiled a cookbook some years back with all the favorite recipes from family members - including Aunt Mercee's sour cream cake. After hearing about it for so long, we thought it was time to try to recreate it using her recipe. The cake came out beautifully - moist and well textured. I never got to try one that Aunt Mercee made, but Ralph says this one was right on - and a fitting tribute to his dear aunt.

Sour Cream Cake
2 sticks margarine
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
6 eggs, separated
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts would be good - could also use pecans) nuts are optional
3/4 cup brown sugar (combined with nuts if you are using)

Preheat oven to 350. Cream margarine. Add sugar and continue creaming until fluffy. Add six egg yolks and beat until well blended. Add sour cream, vanilla and lemon juice and beat until well blended. Add all dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder, salt) and beat until well combined. In a separate bowl, beat six egg whites until frothy. Fold egg whites into batter until combined.

In a 10 inch tube pan that has been greased and floured, pour in 1/3 of batter and top with 1/3 brown sugar and nut mixture. Put in another 1/3 of batter and top with 1/3 of sugar/nut mixture. Put final 1/3 of batter in pan and put the rest of the brown sugar and nuts on top. With a knife, swirl batter to incorporate the brown sugar and nuts throughout the cake. Bake for 1 hour at 350. Let cake cool in pan - remove and enjoy with coffee, ice cream or just have a big hunk of this moist, delicious cake! Sour cream rocks!!

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