Tuesday, June 17, 2014

7-Up Pound Cake

I hope everyone had a lovely Father's Day this past weekend!  I think my dad had a pretty good weekend and enjoyed his Father's Day very much.  He spent it doing exactly what he wanted to do: watch every single FIFA World Cup game (all 7!) without interruption and completely undisturbed.  He got his wish!  My dad is a huge (huge) soccer fan, so every four years when the World Cup rolls around, the dynamic in my house completely changes and everything revolves around the World Cup.  Dinner times change (because we have to make sure not to miss any of the action), plans on weekends get formed around the game schedule, and FIFA brackets grace the side of our refrigerator.  I distinctly remember one World Cup when I was really little (I don't know how old I was) and I was looking at the brackets and I had no idea what that piece of paper was for.  It had the schedule for all the matches, and I just couldn't figure out what it was for.  I'm sure my dad tried to explain it to me, but I couldn't really wrap my head around it.  In any case, while I don't follow soccer (or any sport, really...) I nevertheless get really excited when it's World Cup season.  I just love the energy that's associated with it!

Anyway, I think it's safe to say that my dad enjoyed his relaxing soccer-filled weekend. My sister and I joined him to watch a few of the games, and I wish I had been able to watch more of them.  I was too busy baking an epic cake (to be shared next week!) to watch the Colombia-Greece game (shame on me! shows where my priorities are...), and then I'm ashamed to admit that I fell asleep during the second half of the Italy vs. England game (I stayed up later than I'm willing to admit because I was binge watching Orange is the New Black, so again, priorities...).  My dad and my sister rolled their eyes at me when I told him I couldn't watch Colombia's first match because I was busy baking two different cakes, but I don't think either of them minded when I placed a slice of this epic pound cake in front of them.

Pound cake is a special cake for me and my dad, and it happens to be one of my favorites.  I'm a sucker for a really good simple everyday kind of cake, and pound cake is pretty much the only dessert I know that I can make that my dad will actually enjoy.  I've mentioned countless times that my dad is anything but a desserts kind of guy and refuses sweet things, but milkshakes and pound cakes are two of the treats that he will almost always say yes to.  My dad has always loved pound cake, so it's become a tradition of sorts that I will make him a new pound cake every year on Father's Day.  My dad is one of those people who's hard to shop for, so a while back I decided to make my life easier and instead gift him something that I know he'll actually enjoy- food!  On his birthday, he gets freshly baked loaves of bread; on Christmas, he gets Snickers bars, cocoa powder (for his daily hot chocolate), and simple cookies to eat as a midnight snack; on Father's Day, he gets pound cake.  I love trying new pound cake recipes every year, but this year, I think I finally nailed it.

This pound cake is officially my favorite pound cake ever now.  Every time I make pound cake I like the way the cake tastes, but am always a little disappointed. While they may taste great, they always seem to be lacking a little in one way or another.  Sometimes the cake isn't as dense as I'd like it to be, or the flavor is just a little off, but this pound cake version is completely spot on.  The secret ingredient is 7-Up!  Or Sprite, that'll work too.  I've baked cakes with soda before, and I'd known about this mysterious 7-Up pound cake for a really long time, but for some reason I never got around to making it or I just ended up deciding to use another recipe.  Big mistake on my part, because this pound cake is spot on perfect.  It's dense, sweet, and buttery, and was incredibly simple to put together.  It takes about ten minutes or so to mix up, and it's straightforward and simple.  Cream butter, add sugar, add eggs, mix in flour, mix in soda.  Easy!  One word of caution- make sure your soda has bubbles!  I was literally about to mix in the 7-Up, and when I opened the brand new bottle that I had just purchased that morning at the supermarket, it wound up being completely flat.  Not a single bubble in the soda!  This was a problem because this cake recipe doesn't call for any baking powder or soda, so I had to leave my half mixed cake batter in my mixer and run to the corner deli to buy another bottle of soda.  Fortunately, that one had bubbles, so my cake was saved!

My dad loved this pound cake, and so did I.  I personally found it to be a little to sweet for me, so I would recommend using scant cups of sugar, or maybe reducing the sugar to 2 3/4 cups.  The cake has a nice, bright flavor from the citrus soda, and the cake is dense and sturdy enough that it will withstand grilling, which is a must for easy summer desserts!  I think my favorite part of the cake was actually the crackly crust that formed on top, because it was sweet and crunchy and was a nice contrast to the soft cake below.  This recipe makes a lot of cake, so you'll have plenty for snacking on plain and plenty for serving with vanilla ice cream and fruit.  Enjoy!

7-Up Pound Cake
recipe from the Pioneer Woman


1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar, scant
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter flavoring (optional)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup 7-Up or Sprite


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.  Grease and flour 2 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans, or 1 12-cup Bundt pan.  

In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth.  With the mixer running, add the sugar one cup at a time, creaming after each addition.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.  With the mixer running on low speed, mix in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing only until just combined.  Add in the 7-Up, and mix until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).  Bake the cake for until the top is golden brown and slightly crackly and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour and ten minutes.  Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before inverting and serving.  Enjoy!

Makes 2 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaves or 1 12-cup Bundt cake


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