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.
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.