Ida’s Famous Pound Cake

idasfamouspoundcakeI’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by life these last few days and decided I would turn to my usual pick-me-up to break out of my funk: baking. I didn’t just want to bake any old thing, though. I wanted a challenge. So I decided today was the day I would finally attempt Ida’s Famous Pound Cake.

I’ve had Ida’s recipe for ages–since before I moved to Tanzania–but I had never attempted it before in part because I had to wait until someone could bring me a bottle of coconut extract from the U.S., and until I could figure out what the Tanzanian version of Crisco was. (It’s called KIMBO, by the way.)


So who is this Ida, you ask? And why is her pound cake famous? If you’re a member of Salem Lutheran Church in Catonsville, Maryland, you don’t even need to ask. If you aren’t a member of Salem, let me tell you about Ida.

Ida is a member at Salem, the church I attended while living in Baltimore. She is known for her tireless service to others (she sets the bar high when it comes to Christian service), her fabulous cooking, and her phenomenal pound cake. It’s like a taste of heaven. A moist, dense, faintly coconut-flavored taste heaven.

Although Salem isn’t a particularly large congregation, I was a member for a long time before I ever met Ida. It wasn’t until shortly after Max and Elly were born that we met, and from then on Ida was our guardian angel.

When I started back to church after the twins were born, Max and Elly now in tow, Ida’s daughter Robin approached me after the service and said her mom had invited me to supper at her house that evening. It’s a family tradition for Ida, Robin, Robin’s husband Bobby, and their son Eli to eat Sunday supper at Ida’s house.

Even though I didn’t know her, Ida knew who I was because she was one of several church members who had prepared meals for me after the twins were born and because, well, I was the lady hauling two newborns into church and setting up camp a few pews in front of her every Sunday. I wasn’t exactly anonymous.

After that first Sunday supper, Ida invited us back again the next week. And the week after that. After about the third or fourth consecutive Sunday supper invitation, Ida told me we should just plan on making it every Sunday. And that’s what we did. We would go to church Sunday morning, come home for a little lunch and nap time, and then pack up the diaper bag again and head to Ida’s house.


Ida isn’t the kind of person to just throw together cold sandwiches and chips for Sunday supper. If turkey was on the menu, you’d swear it was Thanksgiving. Her spaghetti sauce was to die for. And that woman has some kind of magical power over green beans. Sunday supper at Ida’s also meant a great Monday lunches because she would always send leftovers home with me.

Sunday suppers at Ida’s was something I looked forward to every week. She would dote on Max and Elly and, with Robin, Bobby and Eli there to also entertain them, I got a much needed break. I even started packing Max and Elly’s jammies so I could stay a little longer at Ida’s house instead of rushing home to get the kids ready for bed.

Max, Elly and I ate Sunday suppers at Ida’s right up until we moved to Tanzania. We actually moved in with Ida for our final week in Baltimore so I could more easily prepare my house for the tenants moving in.


Saying goodbye to Ida was one of the most difficult parts of moving away from Baltimore. She took care of us like we were her own family. When we went back to the States for a visit last summer Ida welcomed us again with open arms.


So that’s who Ida of Ida’s Famous Pound Cake is. Everyone really should have an Ida in their life.

You might be wondering how my first attempt at making Ida’s Famous Pound Cake went. Well, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that it tasted really good, as evidenced by Max and Elly’s enthusiastic and multiple requests for a BIG PIECE of cake, and also by the look on Max’s face when I told him he had to wait for another piece until I took a picture of the cake.


The bad news is that, in Max’s haste to eat the cake, he wouldn’t let me wait for it to fully cool before I took it out of the pan so it didn’t fully release and ended up not looking so pretty.


But all in all I would say it was a success because even if the cake doesn’t look as nice as Ida’s do, baking it (and eating it) brought back lots of wonderful memories of our sweet angel Ida. We love you, Ida! XOXO



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