Recently I received an email from one of my readers asking for more recipes from Aunt Lou’s Archives. So, after pouring through some of her old recipes, my husband and I agreed on Feather Cake, which by the way is not really “light as a feather”. Reading this recipe, like many others, made us laugh. For one, there were no instructions. Yup, you got it, no instructions other than “bake in loaf”! Just figure it out. Don’t worry, I am providing instructions.
The next curiosity we were confronted with was a measurement we have never ever seen before: “butter size egg.” This rather arbitrary culinary term makes “handful, dash and pinch” sound exact. Well, after scratching our heads for what seemed an eternity my husband called his mother who knew “exactly what butter size egg meant.” You see, in Aunt Lou’s time, butter was sold by weight at the market, in the same manner than one buys cheese or lunch meats at the deli counter. You told the grocer how much you wanted, he would slice off a chunk, wrap it in butcher paper and off you went.
Now, when trying to figure how much butter to use for a recipe the home cook, would often equate the amount needed to an object they were familiar with, let’s say: an egg!!! Well, my husband likes things to be exact, and butter size egg wasn’t going to do it. So, he resorted to the laws of physics, mainly displacement. Yes, this was quite the culinary experience. My husband took a Pyrex measuring cup, added 1 cup of water and dropped the egg in. The difference in measurement was the amount of butter needed. This ended up being about 1/4 cup. See photo below.
Feather cake is lighter than pound cake and much denser that your typical birthday cake. We tried this recipe with two different types of flour (cake flour and all purpose flour) to see which one we like better. Well we decided that we liked the feather cake made with all purpose flour. It made for a denser cake which we felt was more true to the old fashioned type cake.
We served feather cake with strawberries, no cream! I think it makes a great alternative to strawberry shortcake, and it has an interesting story too!
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅔ cup milk
- butter size egg ( ¼ cup) at room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1½ cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350'F
- Using a mixer, beat sugar and butter until light. Add the egg and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Slowly add the flour and baking powder. Add milk and vanilla. Beat on low for 30 seconds and on high for about 3 minutes.
- Pour in a greased and floured loaf pan and bake for about 30-40 minutes. Test with cake tester for doneness. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
- When cake is cool to the touch, invert onto cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.
- Serve with strawberries or other berries.