Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lemon Pound Cake (Page 703)


  • Date: Friday, December 19, 2008 -- 2pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Paul K, Bruce, Allan, Linda, Nathan, any many other people grading Calculus exams...
  • Recipe Rating: B

It took something like 25 people nearly 7 hours to grade the 550 or so final exams for Calculus II a couple weeks ago. I foresaw that this was going to be a long day, so I made this cake to bring to the grading session. I hadn't made this recipe yet because it calls for a kugelhopf pan to bake it in. I had no such pan in my cupboard (and had trouble finding one) but much to my surprise I got one in the mail from Rachel a few weeks ago. So I put it to use in making this cake! This was a typical lemon pound cake recipe: I creamed together butter, sugar, and lemon zest, then added the eggs and vanilla. I alternately added the wet ingredients (milk and lemon juice) and the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) then spooned it into the buttered and floured pan. I baked this until cooked through, then cooled it before glazing it with a mixture of powdered sugar and lemon juice. I served it with sliced strawberries. The cake was fine. Pound cake is never my favorite, but for pound cake it was pretty good. It had a good lemon flavor throughout. The glaze was excellent -- it had a nice balance of sweet and tart. But like all pound cakes, it was very dense, which I don't find terribly appealing. One odd thing about this recipe is that it took much longer to cook than it said it would. The recipe said it would take 45 -55 minutes, but after 65 minutes a toothpick inserted in it still didn't come out clean. I probably cooked it about 70 minutes before the cake was set. I personally wouldn't make this again, but if you are a fan of pound cake, you will probably like this one.

This recipe isn't online.

The way the calculus courses work at the university where I teach is that there are many sections of the same course, and each section has 70 or so students. For all exams except the final, each instructor writes their own exam. But the final is departmental -- all the students in the course take the same exam at the same time. Typically there is then a big grading session during which all of these exams get graded. The exam curve is set for the whole course, rather than by each instructor, so it would be unfair if each instructor just graded his or her own section. Then students would be rewarded for having an instructor that is a more lenient grader, which wouldn't be a good system. The fairest approach is to have one person grade one problem for all 550 exams, rather than grading all 20 problems just on the 70 or so exams from his or her section. In theory it is also time-saving to do it that way. After the first hour or so, you become extremely efficient at grading your one assigned problem. The downside of this approach is that it is mind-numbing. For me, the first two or three hundred papers go by pretty quickly, but those last few hundred are rather painful. The papers that are easiest to grade are those where the student did the problem completely right. Since I was grading a problem about related rates, that was remarkably few of them. Actually, the papers which are really the easiest to grade are those where the student leaves the problem completely blank, but that isn't something to be encouraged. In any event, it was a lengthy process grading all of the exams for my Calculus II students, and I was glad to have some cake to eat!

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