I always bake pound cakes in the spring and serve them with fresh berries. So when I found this recipe in the files at Midstate Mills, I decided to take it to our spring book club meeting. One friend, old enough to have tried many pound cakes in her day, said this was the best pound cake she had ever eaten – high praise. Everyone else went on and on about how moist it is and how light it is and most went for seconds, but out of courtesy of course I pretended not to notice. Besides, I was right there with them, I loved it too!
I didn’t tell them the secret ingredient was Sun Drop soda until they begged for the recipe. They were surprised. That led to a debate of North Carolina favorite soft drinks- Sun Drop or Cheerwine? (We do finally discuss books at these things- really.) The group was divided and I don’t like either drink, but we all love the flavor of this cake.
A fan of book club debates, I teed up a new topic- Carolina flour brands -Southern Biscuit or Red Band? There was no disagreement, Southern Biscuit Flour was the clear favorite and even the folks who had family memories of Red Band now prefer Southern Biscuit, except for our New York transplanted member who had no idea about either. She decided to try Southern Biscuit Flour after seeing the texture of this cake.
I am sharing this recipe because I think it will surprise you too. It is light and delicious. You will be proud to take it to any gathering. Mine falls just a bit, but that is because this cake is sweeter than most pound cakes, so it falls a bit. I have to say reducing the sugar would be a big mistake, just bake it as written and turn it upside down to serve.
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Sun Drop soft drink
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons lemon extract
Adjust oven racks so that a shelf is in the lower third of the oven and there is room for the tube pan above that rack.
Heat oven to 325°F. Coat a tube pan with nonstick spray with flour or coat with shortening and then dust with flour.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl until combined.
Beat the butter and shortening until smooth using an electric mixer set on medium high speed. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beat for 1 minute after each addition.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed, just until combined. Add ½ of the soft drink and mix on low speed, just until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Repeat until all ingredients are mixed, ending with flour.
Add the vanilla and lemon flavorings and mix on low speed, just until combined. Turn into the tube pan. Wrap the pan with foil or place the tube pan on a baking sheet to prevent leaking into the oven.
Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted is clean when removed. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Remove cake from pan to a cooling rack to cool completely.