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Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - Page updated at 03:00 p.m.

An old cookbook serves up a new take on pound cake

By ELIZABETH KARMEL
For The Associated Press

My sisters and I kicked off the summer by heading home for a long weekend in North Carolina.

Of course, we each had an itinerary of must-eat hometown foods, including plenty of barbecue and country ham and biscuits. And while those foods were wonderful, nothing compared to the simple pound cake and strawberry dessert our mother whipped up.

My mother baked up a so-called economy pound cake, a rich, flavorful cake so much better than the shortcakes you'll find at the grocer.

The recipe is from "Recipes from Old Virginia Cookbook" published in 1958 by The Virginia Federation of Home Demonstration Clubs.

The authors called this recipe an "economy" pound cake because it's a riff on classic versions of this dessert, which traditionally called for exactly what it sounds like — a pound each of butter, sugar and eggs. But this version calls for just 1/2 pound of butter, 2 cups of sugar and 4 eggs.

We've tinkered with the recipe, adding vanilla extract and doubling the spices. It astounded me how much those little changes upped the flavor of the cake, turning a good cake into a great cake. These small tweaks made the economy pound cake into the best pound cake that my sisters and I have ever eaten and one that we will make for years to come.

Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York.

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