Connie M. Granger of Arlington, Va., wrote that she was looking for a black-pepper cake recipe. "Several years ago, a friend in Lexington Park served the cake, which a friend from North Carolina had baked for her. She believes it is an old family recipe because the lady who baked it refused to give out the recipe. It was a poundcake and delicious. Please see if you can locate this recipe for me. I just have to have it."
Brenda Pitt of Mineral Point, Pa., responded with a recipe that she notes is "from the kitchen of the Hawaii Convention Center [Wayne Komamura, chef, and Debra Benton, food and beverage director]."
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup dark-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 cup buttermilk
powered sugar, for dusting
Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Sift together dry ingredients and slowly incorporate into creamed mixture, alternating with buttermilk.
Pour into greased bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan, then invert, remove pan and dust top with powdered sugar.
Serve with fresh tropical fruit.
Per serving: 330 calories; 5 grams protein; 13 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 49 grams carbohydrate; 78 milligrams cholesterol; 246 milligrams sodium
Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "The cinnamon, clove and black pepper make this dense poundcake fragrant and spicy, the pale yellow cake dotted with little brown and black specks. [This is a lot of black pepper. If you don't want it so spicy, cut the amount of pepper in half and add a 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg as well.]
"Don't over-bake the cake -- it will get dry. Mine was springy to the touch and a toothpick came out clean at about 50 minutes in the oven. If your bundt pan isn't nonstick, be sure to butter and flour the pan before pouring in the batter. It can be difficult to get out."
Letha I. Culp of Salisbury, N.C., is seeking a recipe for fig cobbler or fig pudding. "I hope you can help me," she wrote.
Lillian M. Suman of Baltimore writes: "My son's mother-in-law remembers that her mother made an Irish potato pie and wonders if someone has the recipe. I've looked in my cookbooks but can't find it."
If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. If you send more than one recipe, please put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number. Names must accompany recipes for them to be published. List the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Type or print contributions. Letters may be edited for clarity.