I love a clandestine soda in the preparation of food, a flash of carbonation where the French might use wine, or brandy. It may be transgressive to say so, but I’m hardly alone, for all those who cringe at the thought. Page through church or community cookbooks and you’ll find examples: Coke-spiked Jell-O situations, root beer-glazed fillets of salmon, beans simmered in Moxie. This recipe for a lemon-and-lime soda cake came to me a while back from a Times reader who thought I’d appreciate it (I did!). She said she’d gotten it from a grandmother down south, who stored it on an index card placed in her copy of the cookbook published by the Symphony League of Jackson, Miss., in 1971. The original called for oleo and Crisco oil. I swapped these out for dairy and neutral oil, and a little less soda, and an additional 15 minutes in the oven. This leaves the cake toast-brown and glistening, glossy-crumbed and high-risen, a marvelous moist yellow within. I’m no shill for Big Soda. You could just as easily make it with plain sparkling water and a spritz of lemon or lime. You could make it with sparkling wine!
- Serves: 10 persons
- 1cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature, plus additional for greasing
- ½cup/120 milliliters vegetable, canola or other neutral oil
- 3cups/600 grams granulated sugar
- 5large eggs
- 1teaspoon lemon extract
- 1teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½teaspoon almond extract
- 1cup/235 milliliters 7Up
- 3cups/385 grams all-purpose flour
Step 1Heat oven to 350.
Step 2In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, oil and sugar at medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, blending until incorporated, then blend in the lemon, vanilla and almond extracts. Add half the 7Up, blending until combined, then half the flour; repeat with the remaining 7Up, then the remaining flour until evenly blended.
Step 3Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan with butter; add cake batter. Bake until golden on top and firm to the touch, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto serving platter, and let cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.