Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spice Rack Challenge October: Mace

When I first graduated from college, I befriended an engineer named Irene who worked on my floor.  Looking back on it now, I can see how in her day she must certainly have been a trailblazer in her time - being an African American woman in a man's field and all - but by the time I met her, she was "coasting toward retirement" as we call it.   Not interested in getting ahead, she'd only did the work she thought was necessary, she'd come and go as she pleased, and she would call it like she saw it.   I can distinctly remember Irene asking me if I was going to a woman engineer's conference, and I told her I'd have to ask my supervisor.  She told me "Girl, you don't ask him if you can go. You TELL him YOU ARE GOING!"  It was Irene that made me realize how important it was to mentor young women engineers.   She invited us all out to her house in Bloomfield Hills with it's beautiful built-in pool for an end of summer pool party.   She served us peach pie that was out of this world - when I asked for the recipe, she told me it was just "any old peach pie recipe" but her trick was to add a pinch of mace to the fruit.    I lost touch of Irene over the years - she may have moved back down south after she retired, she might have passed away....if she is alive, she would be well into her 80s by now.    Every time I see mace on the spice rack, I think if her.  It is a spice I really like, but seldom use. Even though mace is part of the nutmeg plant, I think it tastes distinctly different.

I admit it, when I picked mace for the challenge this month, it was because I wanted to try it out in something else besides peach pie.   I found this recipe online a while ago.  The poster was having trouble with it because it always fell.   The key is to make it in a 10" inch fluted pan - don't use a Bundt pan or loaf pan because it is so rich it will collapse under it's own weight.   It is a unique tasting pound cake - I loved it, because I adore the taste of mace, but not everyone did.  My family liked it, but my neighbors weren't so fond of it's mace-y taste. To each their own!  It would be even better served with a hard sauce or caramel sauce ladled on top.

Madeira Pound Cake
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons mace
1 cup butter or margarine
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Madeira
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix flour with sugar, salt, soda, and mace in a bowl and set aside. In large mixer bowl beat butter until softened. Add eggs, sour cream, Madeira, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix at low speed until blended. Beat at medium speed 3 minutes. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 325° F. for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.


Maggie said...

The pie and poundcake both sound wonderful! I haven't used mace in sweet things much. Here's my entry for this month, Autumnberry Ketchup.

Tricia said...

I bought some mace at By The Pound for the challenge, but haven't managed to use it yet. :^( I found an interesting apple spice cake recipe via Epicurious, maybe i'll make it this weekend...

Tracy Wood said...

Just like adding a pinch of mace to a fruit pie, I think a small amount of the correct spice can really make or break a dish. I had a lot of fun with the Spice Rack Challenge: Mace month. Such a warm and comforting flavor. The pound cake sounds right up my alley!