When you think of 7UP, cake probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Although if this were the 1950’s, it would have been the first among a slew of other 7UP concoctions like 7UP Salad or 7UP Parfait Pie. This is a result of soda companies in the 50’s marketing their products to be a baking staple rather than a mere thirst quencher. 7UP went so far with their advertising campaigns that the company gave away free recipe booklets in tandem with an ad for shoppers suggesting they “get some extra 7UP for cooking.” Many of these recipes have been lost over the years and for good reason. One that deserves to have a modern refresher is 7UP Pound Cake.
In order to create a modern take to a classic, I had to dig a little bit into the history of why this recipe was one of the few successes. It turns out we may never have been graced with the fizzy lemon-lime drink if its creator would have had his initial way. 7UP was created by St. Louis native Charles Grigg. For years, Grigg tried to market an orange soda, but Orange Crush had the market and squashed his efforts every time. Grigg decided to switch gears and market a lemon-lime soda under the label Bib. Just weeks before the big stock market crash and onset of the Great Depression, Grigg got his big break and adults loved the uplifting qualities the new soda gave them. Years later, following the end of Prohibition, the company would create an entire new marketing strategy for 7UP revolving around all things alcohol. Ads like “7UP is more than just a mixer…It blends out the harsh features. Dispels hangovers. Takes the ouch out of grouch.” made adults love the drink for it’s medicinal cures of hangovers and endless possibilities as a cocktail mixer.
Push ahead into the 50’s and we again reach the ad campaign targeting cooks to use their products in the kitchen. So why does 7UP seem to work so well in certain recipes like the Pound Cake. Turns out, the slightly acidic soda gives the cake flavor, lift, and a tender texture that is unique to the soda infused batter. With my history down I turned to modernizing the recipe. We live in an era where everyone enjoys a mini version of a larger original. Reasons for this are quite diverse. Some are health conscious and wish to indulge in old favorites without the guilt while others enjoy entertaining and offering a wide selection of petit four style desserts so guests can try a wide array without getting full too fast. With this in mind, I altered the traditional recipe that bakes the cake in a tube or bundt pan and instead baked the batter in a greased muffin tin. Once the cakes were removed from the oven I quickly cored them with an apple corer and filled the centers with lemon curd for more lemon flavor. To cover the filling, I swirled a lemon-lime tinged frosting flavored with a few drops of Lemon extract into the yellow frosting and a few drops of lime juice in the green frosting to give the final citrus punch. If these little cakes aren’t good enough to make 7UP’s next marketing campaign, I don’t know what will!!!
Note: Be sure to use fresh 7UP. If flat, the cake’s texture and rise will suffer greatly. If you want you may bake this in a traditional tube pan or Bundt pan, altering the baking time to 75 minutes and omitting the Lemon Curd filling. The formula yields 24 cupcakes or 1 cake that serves 12.
Mini 7UP Pound Cakes
- 2½ cups Granulated Sugar
- 5 Eggs; room temperature
- ½ cup 7UP; room temperature
- 2 tsp. Lemon Extract
- 2 tbsp. Lime Juice
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 20 tbsp. (2½ sticks) Unsalted Butter; melted and slightly cooled
- 3¼ cups Cake Flour
- Lemon Curd; for filling
- 2 tubs White Frosting
- Yellow Food Color
- Green Food Color
- 1 tsp. Lemon Extract; for frosting
- 1 tsp. Lime Juice; for frosting
- Heat oven to 300° and grease a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Mix sugar, eggs, 7UP, lemon juice, lime juice, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. With machine running, slowly pour in the butter and mix until incorporated. Add the flour in three additions, mixing between each addition, until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove cakes from pan and repeat with the remaining batter.
- While the second batch bakes, use an apple corer to remove a section in the middle of the each cake. Using a small spoon, fill the hole with a generous amount of lemon curd and smooth out the top. Allow cakes to cool completely.
- Once the cakes are cooled, add a few drops of yellow food color to one tub of frosting and a few drops of green food color to the other tub of frosting. Add the lemon extract to the yellow tub of frosting and the lime juice to the green tub of frosting. Mix until both tubs of frosting are well combined. In a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip, fill one side of the bag with the green frosting and one side with the yellow frosting. Pipe a small rosette on the top of each cake, making sure to cover the area of exposed lemon curd filling. To complete the look, cut straws into small pieces and place into the frosting of each cake at an angle to give a soda pop theme.
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