Updated: Jan 22
Disclaimer: This recipe and some of the accompanying photos are featured on this blog with permission from a cousin. (For another old family recipe, click green link.)
The other day a cousin contacted me online and asked to chat. She is researching our family ancestry and is working on putting together a website. I know family history because I took interest and would chat with my grandmother as we cooked together. It took hours to make homemade ravioli, so we had a lot of time to talk.
My cousin, mom's first cousin, and I spoke via phone for about an hour. She's the daughter of my grandmother's sister.
My maternal grandmother.
We don't know one another well. I've only met her a handful of times and being she's 14 years older, when we did see one another, I was playing with the other young children.
My aunt, my maternal grandmother's sister.
I saw her mother a bit more often. She would come to visit my grandmother. I remember my Aunt, like my grandmother and her other sister, was an exceptional cook and baker. They were all also excellent at sewing, crocheting and knitting. My mom and some of her cousins inherited those talents. I only inherited the cooking and baking. Let's just say, I can't sew on a button.
A few years back, my cousin posted something on social media, and when I saw it, I realized she had wrong information. She was confused because my grandmother was called by her middle name her whole life. In fact, she legally changed her middle name to her first name. (i.e. If my grandmother's name had been Eleonora Angela, she was called Angela her entire life so she finally just legally changed her first name to Angela.)
When my grandmother went to school for the first time, they called her by her given name (i.e. Eleonora) and she didn't respond. She didn't know it was her real name. The teacher had to tell her. My grandmother always told that story and laughed so hard. I guess when you come from a large family, your parents are too busy to tell you that what they call you isn't your given name.
Looking back at ancestry information, it would be confusing. My cousin didn't realize that the woman she was referring to was indeed my grandmother, whom she only knew as Aunt (middle name i.e. Angela). My cousin is still researching and looking for any information she can find. It's very difficult because records were not kept back then as well as they are today. Also, anything before my grandparent's generation took place in Italy in the 1800's.
My grandmother was one of the youngest in her family and she was born in 1919. Her sister, my aunt whose recipe this is, was the baby of the family, born in the early 1920's.
My two grandmothers. l - r paternal grandmother and maternal grandmother
If you are lucky enough like I was, spend time with your grandparents and get to know them. Talk to them, ask about family history, traditions, fun stories, etc.
The past is what brought us to the present. Past events play a huge role in why people made the decisions they made long ago. Had one decisions been slightly different, so much would be different today. We should cherish the past, the good and the bad, remember it, learn from it. What we should never do is ignore it or erase it.
Below is the recipe, word for word, copied from information my cousin sent me. (This can easily be made gluten free)
"Everyone raved to my mother about her cream cheese pound cake. The following is her exact recipe. I included some variations after the recipe.
Ingredients 1/2 lb. cream cheese, softened/room temperature 1/2 lb. softened butter 6 eggs 2 cups sugar 2 cups flour 2 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon vanilla pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350*
Mix cream cheese and butter till blended. Gradually add sugar and eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour, then vanilla.
Pour into either a greased and floured tube pan or 2 greased and floured loaf pans.
Bake in 350* oven for 15 mins., then lower oven to 325* and bake for 40/45 mins. depending on pan/s used. Cake is done when you test with a knife. If it comes out clean, cake is done.
My mother would put in raisins sometimes. I found that if you coat them with a little flour first, it will prevent them from falling to the bottom of the pan. Sometimes I soak the raisins in brandy or orange juice. If using OJ, add zests from 1/2 of an organic orange to boost flavor."