My first memory of pound cake was not something fancy or out of an artisanal cake shop with several layers and cream. It was the shop bought variety. It was the kind of cake that would adorn countertops at neighbourhood grocery stores, ordinarily packed in a slender takeaway container looking rather bland compared to the chocolate buttercream slathered ones in glass cases below with those god awful pink sugar roses.
I had taken a fondness to this Didi cake, yes that’s what it was called, and as a child I must have really loved that synthetic vanilla taste because I used to insist we get a whole loaf of it at least twice every month. For me, that was more celebration than the multicoloured cartoon faces I’d get to slice open each birthday. I can’t remember now if it was an egg or eggless pound, nor can I truly recall what it tastes like, but over the years, this half-memory has made me a bit critical about good pound cake. I expect smooth buttery notes, a good moist crumb, and that don’t-hold-back kind of attitude that comes with making a pound cake. You’re not making something guilt-free. To make this taste good, you’ve got to make it indulgent and no two ways about it.
With hundreds, if not thousands of recipes out there, why would you want to make this one? I’ll tell you why. Back in the day, when our mums took to home baking, the kind of cakes they learned were fairly standard- pound, chiffon, chocolate, and then funnily enough, certain recipe books have an odd Coca Cola cake. How did something so rooted in America’s Southern culture land up in our recipe books? I do not know, but these retro favourites have been around for some time now, and for good reason. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without this bloody brilliant 7-Up Pound Cake, also known as the Sock-It-To-Me cake.
This cake has no raising agent, so we’ll be beating in the air during the creaming process. Make sure to not be slack about this step or lose any air after creaming it. I made this in a bundt pan, but you can halve the recipe and make it in two cake pans if you like. The use of actual liquid sodas as well as flavoured sodas instead of a raising agent was very common in many Indian households. You could swap the 7-up for Sprite too, and I know this looks like a lot of lime zest, but you need this to cut through the sweetness of the cake.
7-Up Pound Cake
This retro cake has no leavening agent in it. A longer creaming method packs in air, and the final addition of the 7-Up soda gives it all the strength it needs to rise. The sweetness of the cake is cut by the seemingly alarming amount of lime zest, but trust em, this works. You can skip the glaze completely if you like, but I love the extra sugar in this because it's reminiscent of cakes growing up.
Butter 340g, at room temperature
Caster sugar 3 cups
Salt 1 tsp
Eggs 5, at room temperature
All-purpose flour 3 cups
Cornflour 6 tbsp
7-Up 1/2 cup
Lemon zest 1 tbsp
Icing sugar 1 cup
7-Up 3 tbsp
Lemon zest 1/2 tsp
Preheat the oven to 155 degrees celsius. Butter and flour a large bundt pan and tap it on the counter to get rid of any excess flour.
Start creaming just the butter at first for two whole minutes. Best to see the clock and time yourself, then slowly add in the sugar and continue creaming for the next six to seven minutes at least. This is crucial because we are adding air to the batter at this step. Add the eggs one at a time and combine well after each addition before adding the next egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before the addition of the flour.
Remove 6 tbsp of all-purpose flour from the 3 cups and replace with cornflour. Whisk this well and add half the flour into the batter. Turn your hand blender down to its slowest setting and incorporate the flour before adding in the rest. Be careful not to overmix the batter. Splash in the 7-Up and add the lemon zest. Moving quickly, mix using a rubber spatula and transfer the batter to the bundt pan. Transfer to the oven and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Let the cake cool on a wire rack for ten minutes before running a knife very carefully around the edges so as to not damage it and turn it out. Let it finish cooling on the rack.
For the glaze, whisk together the three ingredients and pour over the cake once it has cooled completely.