This cake is a family classic. It’s old-fashioned, made from simple and familiar ingredients and never fails to satisfy. This is my Grandmother’s cake. We called her Jello. And Jello’s cakes were always delicious.
She used to make this cake often. Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just about any other occasion when everyone was together for a meal. I can still see her greasing and flouring the pan in preparation. We would look for the cake under the metal cover in her kitchen. I can still hear the metallic “clang” of that cover when we’d try to sneak and cut a slice without her knowing. She was notorious for her “sunshine” slices–slices of cake so thin we’d joke that we could see the sun through them. We were usually caught, but it was worth it. After all, the cake was the reward.
The first time I made this cake myself was right after I moved to Japan. I was thousands of miles away from home and family celebrations and I wanted to infuse a little bit of “home” into this new land that was amazing, but not quite “home” yet. It would quickly feel like home, but in the meantime, I was determined to do what I could to make it feel like the holidays I was used to. I called her early one morning Japan time (there was a 14 hour time difference), and asked her if she would share the recipe. She shared this, and many more, over a 2-hour conversation in which she patiently read and I feverishly wrote. I still have that notebook, and I pull it out every time I make this cake.
She also shared with me that she used to sell this cake to a local restaurant in Oklahoma City and it was a part of their dessert menu. Here we were, eating restaurant worthy pound cake for all these years. But I know why that restaurant wanted her cake. It’s the cake I think of anytime someone says pound cake. It’s crispy on the outside, tender with a very fine crumb on the inside. Perfectly capable of standing alone, it can also hold it’s own with berries or cream, and it’s absolutely perfect with a cup of coffee for breakfast the next morning. I’d like to think that because she made it for a restaurant, she liked the idea of lots of people enjoying her cake. Jello is not here anymore, but I know it still pleases her that people are enjoying something she made. And that’s why I’m sharing the recipe with you.
7-Up Pound Cake
1 1/2 c. butter, softened
5 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 t. lemon extract
1/2 t. vanilla extract
3 c. sugar
3 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. 7-Up
Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a large bundt cake pan. Set aside. You may also use the Baker’s Joy baking spray, if you prefer.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add in extract and mix.
Add flour a cup at a time, alternating with the 7-Up. It will be 1 cup of flour, 1/2 of the 7-Up, 1 cup of flour, remaining 7-Up, remaining 1 cup of flour. Add salt with final cup of flour. Mix until combined, but don’t over mix.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until a cake tester comes out clean. There shouldn’t be any wet batter on the tester, but a few tiny crumbs are okay.
Cool completely, dust with powdered sugar, and serve. If you’re feeling conservative, slice it “sunshine” thin and if you’re feeling indulgent, have some with your morning coffee. Either way, Jello would approve.