The amazing pound cake recipe I brought home from Alabama.
Blogging has led to a number of really neat experiences for me, but the best experiences have resulted when friends, farming, and food combine. Last month, I participated in the Southern Food Blogger Retreat in Prattville, Alabama. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect of the retreat, but it turned out to be one of the most incredible experiences ever.
I made a whole bunch of amazing new friends, got to visit a beef cow-calf farm, and learned so much about how to be a better blogger.
One of the retreat's sponsors was Elanco. Elanco is the company that's coordinating the Enough Movement, which is working to create conversations about and solutions to food-insecurity, both now and in the future. As both a blogger and a dairy farmer who relies on modern and innovative farming methods, Elanco invited me to participate in the retreat.
I was a little nervous about signing up for the retreat, mostly because I didn't know what to expect and I sometimes feel awkward around food bloggers. But I shouldn't have been nervous at all! The retreat organizers and other bloggers were so incredibly friendly and welcoming. They really did epitomize southern hospitality. And since the retreat was limited to a small number of participants, it was easy to get to know everyone. The retreat participants and presenters were Sarah from The Magical Slowcooker, Ashley from The Hill Hangout, Beth from BethCakes, Mary from Chattavore, Paula from Call Me PMc, Kyle from The Blogger Network, Melissa from Served Up with Love, Jennifer from Bake or Break, Cris from Recipes that Crock, Brandie from The Country Cook, Liz from The Farmwife Cooks, Stacey from Southern Bite, Leah from Beyer Beware, Stacy Lyn from Game and Garden, Christin from Spicy Southern Kitchen, Brooke from Rural Gone Urban, Taylor from Household Management 101, Christy from Southern Plate, and (not pictured) Stephanie from Plain Chicken and Kim from Kim Box Photography.
To make the retreat even more enjoyable, it was held in this cozy cottage tucked into the woods. Even though I was learning lots, the casual atmosphere really made it feel like a get-away.
One evening of the retreat was spent learning more about farming and family traditions with the Henry family of Pintlala Cattle Company. The beef cow-calf farm is home to the curious Charolais heifer above and a host of other Charolais and Angus cattle.
Mike and Denise Henry and family
The heifers we met were certainly friendly, but not nearly as friendly as the Henrys themselves.
After the Henrys showed us around their cattle handling facility and explained their farm, we drove over to their house for dinner.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of the window painting that greeted us when we arrived at the house. The bossy in the window is a reference back to the days when the Henrys were dairy farmers.
In addition to their cattle business, Mike and Denise Henry also have a catering business. So I wasn't surprised by the amazing dinner they prepared for us. I didn't get a picture of dinner, but I did take a picture of the pound cake. It was SOOO good! Denise said the recipe was passed down from her mother. I thought a family recipe was a fitting end to a dinner conversation about the heritage of farming.
Denise was kind enough to share the recipe for her buttermilk pound cake. The buttermilk gives this cake incredible flavor. You can find the recipe below.
After three fabulous days with my new friends, I didn't really need another sign that I had made the right decision in attending the retreat. But I got one anyway during the shopping trip for those of us with later flights. We went to an antique mall that was nothing like anything I've ever seen in Minnesota. I found several pieces I loved, but the vase above is the most remarkable. The bird figure above was my grandmother's – the same grandmother whose love for baking I inherited. The bird was passed to me after my grandfather died and now sits in my kitchen windowsill. I didn't think I would ever find another piece of any sort to match it. But here was a matching vase!
So now the list for my visit to Alabama includes friends, farming, food, and family heirlooms.
Southern Buttermilk Pound Cake
Making this cake myself was my first attempt at baking with Crisco (or any other brand of shortening). Normally, when I find a recipe that calls for shortening, I automatically substitute butter. I do keep a small container of shortening on hand for making dipping chocolate, so I used that for this cake. I made Denise's recipe again using butter and it yielded a fabulous cake, but it wasn't quite the same. Also, none of the stores in my county sell butter and nut flavoring – actually, I didn't even know what butter and nut flavoring was – so I substituted vanilla extract and hazelnut extract.
3 cups sugar
1 cup Crisco shortening
1 cup buttermilk
¼ teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon butter and nut flavoring
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a tube pan.
Cream sugar and shortening together in large bowl. Add eggs and mix well. Stir baking soda into buttermilk. Alternately add flour and buttermilk mixture to bowl. Stir in flavoring.
Pour batter into tube pan and smooth surface. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until top of cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Recipe courtesy of Denise Henry.
Group photo by Kim Box.
Brand names mentioned are purely for educational purposes.