photograph by Sophia Harcourt

The funny thing is, Shirley Smith doesn’t care for pound cake. But that doesn’t stop her on many days from making at least one. And one day, she says, she made five.

She’ll hear about someone at McLeansville Baptist Church who just got home from the hospital or remember an older person who doesn’t get much company, and she pulls out the Teflon pan her mother gave her nearly 40 years ago and sets to work. The pan came with a recipe, but Shirley tweaked it until she had something special.

She’s specific in her ingredients: She uses only White Lily flour and Mrs. Filbert’s margarine. And if the store where she’s shopping doesn’t have jumbo brown eggs, she’ll drive across town to get them if she has to.

“If you ever taste Shirley’s cake, you can tell it from the others,” says Danease Newell, a church member who sent us Favorites from our Table with Shirley’s recipe highlighted.

Newell included this note: “She has made more of these cakes over the years than any one person can count; so many, in fact, her pink Teflon pan [when the nonstick coating first came out, it was pink] has long since turned brown. … At the end of her workday, Shirley would go home and bake one of these wonderful cakes for someone who was sick, had a death in the family, or was elderly, etc.”

While working at AT&T, Shirley sold pound cake and coconut pie by the slice to help a coworker who was battling cancer with his medical bills. “It was the honor system,” says Shirley, who’s now retired. “I’d leave them in the break room with a little box, and people would pay if they took one.”

If food is going to be served at a church function, Shirley doesn’t ask what she can bring. She knows. “If they don’t have them, they want to know where the pound cake’s at,” she says. Brides and mothers-to-be request her cakes for their showers. She’s happy to oblige.

“I just love to share what the Lord has blessed me with,” Shirley says. “Everybody enjoys them, and I enjoy making them. That’s the story of my pound cakes.”

Because even though Shirley doesn’t care for pound cake, she does care for the people around her.

Shirley’s Pound Cake
Shirley uses only White Lily flour and Mrs. Filbert’s margarine.

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter-flavored Crisco
1 cup margarine, melted
3 cups sugar
6 jumbo brown eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 teaspoon butter flavoring

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside. Cream Crisco and margarine together. Add sugar and eggs, one at a time. Mix well. Add ½ cup sour cream and ½ cup of flour mixture together. Add remaining sour cream and flour mixture; mix well. Add vanilla and butter flavoring. Pour into greased and floured cake pan. Bake at 315° for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

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