How Graham Got His Name

October 12, 2010

This is the story of how my older son, Graham, got his name.  My husband Randy is a third.  As in Emmett Randolph Wootton III.  It’s a big name.  Randy always imagined that he would have a fourth.  But then he met me – his Jewish Pacific Northwest almost-native wife.  I don’t pretend to be religious but no one in my extended family ever named a child after anyone living because it is seen as bad luck in the Jewish faith.  (My middle name is Lee, the “L” being for my grandfather Louis who died shortly before I was born.)  Also, growing up in Seattle, I never knew a Junior, let alone a third.  And certainly not a fourth.

When Randy and I met and were in the throes of first love, he would joke about having a fourth with me.  I would laugh and secretly wonder if he was serious.  As we got engaged and then married, the subject of a fourth would sometimes come up.  One night we were watching a movie and the main character’s name was Graham.  I immediately fell in love with the name.  I had certainly had heard it before but I had never known anyone with it as a first name.  I turned to Randy and said, “Don’t you love the name Graham?”  To which he replied, “Yeah, it’s a cool name.”  And that is where my full court press began.

I got pregnant while we lived in London (where we knew several Grahams) and the first weekend after we found out, we went to Cornwall for a few days.  We were both dazed and incredibly excited, but also careful about getting too excited.  We cautiously talked about this baby to be.  We walked for hours in the rain and talked mostly about names.  Randy seemed open to other names for boys besides Emmett Randolph and I kept pressing for Graham.

“What’s wrong with having a fourth?”
“He’ll get beat up on the playground if we live in Seattle.”
“Well, if his name is Graham, kids will call him Graham cracker.”
“Kids tease.  If that is the worst they can come up with, we are fine.  Graham crackers are good – everyone loves graham crackers!”

And so on.  The discussion continued.  As with most things, it looked like I was definitely going to get my way.  I think Randy held out some degree of hope that I would suddenly change my mind.  Then I went into labor and all decisions which had not been firmly made, became made in a hurry.  By me.  Could you argue with a woman in labor?  And so, Graham it was.  Graham Emmett to be exact.  I love his name.  I love the sound of it and I love the way it looks in print.  I love that it is not a common name in the U.S. but that everyone has heard it and knows how to pronounce it.  I love that it does not really have a nickname except for the loving family ones we have created (Graham’y, Graham-Graham).  I love that for a while he was introducing himself as Graham Cracker.  Because I do so love Graham crackers.

See this pound cake?  It’s a Graham Cracker Pound Cake.  It is proof that graham crackers make everything better.  Graham, true to his name, is fond of bring them to school in his lunch box and every time I open a sleeve to do so, I end up having to talk myself out of eating the remaining ones.  Tell me I am not the only one with this challenge.  One of my earliest food memories was getting graham crackers as a snack in preschool and breaking mine into lots of little pieces so that it would last longer.  Considering I was four at the time, possibly even three, and I still remember this – well, it might shed some light on how much I love graham crackers and why I might possibly write about food.  Clearly.

Anyway, cake.  After reading Hilary’s post about her pound cake smackdown I had a sudden and overwhelming need for a pound cake in my life.  Pound cake doesn’t excite me the way that chocolate does but there is a time and a place for something perfect, simple, and buttery and when you are in that place and the time comes, I recommend making this cake.  (No slight meant to Hilary who made two beauties.)  Normally, I would mascerte some strawberries to serve alongside or make a caramel or chocolate sauce to, you know, dress it up a little.  No need here.  The graham crackers provide just the perfect very subtle crunch and a little more caramel flavor.  Nothing earth shattering, just taking something very good and making it great.

By the way, I have a terrific pumpkin bread recipe on offer over at Amazon Fresh!  Check it out here.

One Year Ago: Almond Praline Scones
Two Years Ago: White Beans with Tomato and Sage

Graham Cracker Pound Cake
Food and Wine
Makes one 8-by-4 inch cake

I always double cakes like this because they freeze beautifully.  Just wrap the cake well in plastic wrap and then foil.  If you have non-stick loaf pans, you can use the butter wrappers to grease them instead of the spray.

Vegetable oil spray
1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1½ cups cake flour
½ cup finely ground graham crackers, from half a sleeve
¾ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. whole milk
2 tbsp. heavy cream
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Spray an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the granulated sugar and dark brown sugar.  In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour with the graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together the whole milk, cream, eggs, and vanilla.  Beating at medium speed, add the dry and liquid ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 alternating batches.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn the pound cake out onto a rack to cool completely.  The pound cake can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for 3 days.



27 Comments »

  1. We just found out that this third baby will be a boy and we are in the midst of the name debate right now. I love your story! The pound cake looks so delicious too!

    Comment by Emily Rose — October 12, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

  2. What a wonderful story behind your son’s name. Graham Emmett sounds absolutely perfect.

    Comment by Beth — October 12, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

  3. I am obsessed with baby names! Graham Emmett is quite a handsome name, and I love the story. My boyfriend is not exactly keen on my more eccentric favorites (his name is Michael, after all), so it’s my goal to find the perfect one before we actually need it. :) In the meantime, I’m off to buy cake flour so I can make this!

    Comment by Rachel — October 12, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

  4. My brother is a junior and honestly. I think the whole thing is kind of silly. My children are getting completely original names, no matter how much my mother begs me to name one after her. In fact, my first daughter’s name is going to be Remy. No ifs ands or buts about it. I like Graham. It has a very sweet sound to it. Good connotations.

    Like this pound cake. Amazing in every way.

    Comment by Joanne — October 12, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  5. I love your stories Dana! Oh, and graham crackers!

    Comment by fresh365 — October 12, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

  6. I have always adored the name Graham…and the crackers of course. Beautiful story and pound cake!

    Comment by Claire — October 12, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

  7. What a sweet story! I love the name Graham as well-it’s a delicate balance between interesting/quirky while still retaining a classic, old world feel.
    I’m 6 moons pregnant with our first. My husband and I duked it out early on. He voted for Dick (his fathers name). The chances of me budging on ‘Dick’ we’re pretty slim to none. He veto’ed my first as well (Harper), and from there on we were on even turf. The final name was chosen hollering a few rooms apart, in a few words.
    This pound cake sounds incredibly satisfying.

    Comment by Sarah — October 12, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

  8. Graham is a great name — I survived plenty of Graham Crackers. Emmett was a name we considered for every child. You did well!

    Comment by Brooke — October 12, 2010 @ 9:08 pm

  9. Immediately added to the treat list!

    Comment by Julie — October 13, 2010 @ 12:11 am

  10. I love hearing stories and this was a good one. I also love graham crackers, so this cake sounds perfect!

    Comment by kickpleat — October 13, 2010 @ 1:55 am

  11. Awwwww, beautifully told. I love the name Graham, but I’ve also always been partial to the name Emmett because I just really like that it has 2 of each letter. Your boys is lucky he has TWO cool names.

    And the world would be a better place if more people made pound cakes, so by birthing Graham and sharing this recipe, you’ve done a double good deed. Well done.

    Comment by Cheryl — October 13, 2010 @ 3:20 am

  12. Love the story and the name. I’ve known a few Grahams in my life…some pronounced Gray-um and some pronounced Gram. I like the Gray-um pronunciation myself…:)

    I do love Emmett as well…:)

    Oh and this pound cake looks delish!

    Comment by Elizabeth — October 13, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

  13. What a lovely, sweet story and perfect cake to go along with it!

    Comment by Jennifer @ Maple n Cornbread — October 13, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

  14. What a wonderful story about how Graham got his name. It made me smile and this cake will make me smile as well when I make it. Autumn is upon us here in the midwest, the leaves have changed and many have fallen. Just about time to bake a graham cracker pound cake. (I can’t resist the ends of the sleeves either)

    Comment by Penny — October 14, 2010 @ 1:11 am

  15. Interesting recipe – with graham crumbs. I adore pound cake especially the next day.

    Comment by Maya — October 14, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  16. “As with most things, it looked like I was definitely going to get my way. ” — I think if most men were like this, relationships would be much easier. Haha. ;-) I love the story behind Graham’s name, and his whole name does sound and looks ‘grand’, for lack of a better word, it commands attention! And so does Graham Crackers. I mean, who doesn’t like ‘em? It’s adorable that Graham embraced his name fully and poked fun at himself by saying he’s Graham Crackers. :)

    PS Love the butter wrappers for greasing idea!

    Comment by Joy — October 14, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  17. Pound cake is one of my favorites… Especially for breakfast. I can imagine that this graham cracker version must be just wonderful. Will be giving this one a try. Thanks for sharing, Dana!

    Comment by Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — October 14, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

  18. This sounds delicious. I love the flavor of graham crackers. Great idea to use them in a cake.

    Comment by Lisa — October 14, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

  19. Sweet story about Graham, Dana! In my baking class last week, we did lemon pound cake and it was really nice–very similar formula to this, actually. Funny b/c homemade graham crackers have been on my list lately, so I’ll let you know if I get around to making them anytime soon. Hope you’re good!!

    Comment by Megan Gordon — October 15, 2010 @ 4:34 am

  20. [...] a traditional pound cake, I’m always open for new ideas.  I will definitely be giving this Graham Cracker Pound Cake from Dana Treat a try very soon. I have a feeling it will be one of my new [...]

    Pingback by Friday Favorites – Episode 69 | my kitchen addiction — October 15, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

  21. A lovely post Dana and a lovely name, but then I am biased as my husband is also called Graham. His family have always abbreviated it to Grum, so that is a different one to try out. Did you know it is a Scottish name. The same name traditionally from England is spelled a little differently – Graeme. I think I prefer the Scottish spelling.

    Comment by Jacqueline — October 15, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

  22. What a fun story! Thanks for sharing. I just made the cake last night, and it turned out beautifully, although my 2 year old said, “Where are chocolate chips mommy?”. That’s my boy :-)

    Comment by Kathy — October 15, 2010 @ 5:00 pm

  23. I couldn’t help but read your story to my wife. When I was growing up I had never run into another Graham until one summer we were travelling in B.C. We were in a grocery store and I heard my name called out, but it wasn’t for me. It’s true, most people know how to my spell my name, however sadly there is the rare person that confuses me with a unit of measurement.

    Comment by Graham in West Seattle — October 20, 2010 @ 4:43 am

  24. Great story! Agree, a fourth would’ve been a bit much.

    Comment by Marisa — October 21, 2010 @ 7:54 am

  25. I had leftover graham crackers after making a key lime pie crust, and came across this delicious recipe to help me use them up. My loaf pan was 9″ instead of 8″, so I reduced the cooking time to 45 minutes (and still came perilously close to overcooking it), so I recommend checking on your cake after 40-45 minutes. We didn’t eat it until the next day, and it was very good. But two days later, the graham flavor had deepened and it was even more delicious. We enjoyed it warmed up with Talenti Vanilla Bean Gelato on top. Toasted with butter is excellent too.

    Comment by LW — July 25, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  26. Tell Randy I said Hi!

    Comment by Kevin metz — April 30, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  27. One good thing about a name like Emmett Randolph Wootten III is that it makes it easy for childhood friends to find you twenty years later.

    Comment by Kevin metz — April 30, 2012 @ 2:22 pm



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