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The Almost Perfect Tree

The Almost Perfect Tree

Imperfections make things interesting. I think the same is true for Christmas trees. Live trees have all sorts of imperfections like saggy branches, random gaps and holes as well as twisted limbs.

When I was a little girl, we all rode with my daddy to the woods to find our Christmas tree. Cedar trees are common in our area, so it was not unusual for people to use them as Christmas trees. Did I mention imperfections? Cedar trees are chock full of them!

Once we picked out the perfect tree, my daddy would cut it down and load it onto the back of the truck. When we got home, we couldn't wait to hang those huge colored Christmas lights on it along with homemade ornaments, silver tinsel, gigantic silver garland and a huge star on top. Each branch sagged from the weight of the decorations, but we did not think much of it. It was Christmas and the star on top of that tree was a reminder of why we celebrated the season. Come to think of it, we had a cedar tree every year until my mama bought one of the “new” artificial trees. That thing was hideous and it looked like someone took 18 green toilet brushes and attached them to an 8 foot tall pipe!

Few things spark a memory from the past quite like a scent. Whether it is the smell of a pie baking in the oven or a pig smoking on a grill outside, distinct scents can trigger fond memories of days gone by. Just like the scent of that old cedar tree, nothing makes a house smell like Christmas quite like a pound cake baking in the oven.

Pound cake is one of my favorite desserts and I am not very picky about the way it is flavored, just as long as it is dense and very moist. I shy away from all butter pound cakes because they tend to dry out for me, although I know some folks who use nothing but butter and they turn out just right. I am not there yet with my skills. :)

Pound cakes can be a little finicky sometimes. They can come out tall, short, moist, dry, with sad streaks, all depending on the moisture in the air and the way the wind blows! This pound cake, however, I have made at least fifty times and it consistently rises to the occasion, providing a moist and dense texture.

It is also much less time consuming than traditional pound cakes because there is no sifting of flour involved and there is no milk, so you don’t have to alternate the wet and dry ingredients. This recipe calls for margarine, NOT BUTTER. This is crucial because margarine has a high content of oil, giving this cake its moisture. I prefer Land O Lakes margarine because it is 80% vegetable oil and it is easy to find in this area! Don’t use margarine with a low oil content! If you do, you will be disappointed.

As for the flour, I have used almost every brand and just as long as it is all purpose flour, it has turned out consistently well. The taste is awesome and the smell of this pound cake baking in the oven certainly brings back Christmas memories!

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