My grandmother was named Phul Kaur Singh but there was another wonderful older woman named Grandma June who looked after me when I was a kid. She and her husband, who I also affectionately called Grandpa, were from Mississippi but had retired in Seaside, California. Grandpa was in the Army and was stationed at the nearby Fort Ord military base. When he retired they decided to stay on the Peninsula. I can’t recall how they met my mother but they struck up a friendship and offered to babysit me on the weekends. Grandma didn’t mind the extra cash and my mother needed a babysitter so it all worked out. On Saturdays, Grandpa and his friends would play checkers and things would occasionally get heated between them as they fought over perceived infractions and illegal jumped moves . And for good reason, the winning prize at stake were buttons kept in a old Danish butter cookie tin. On Sundays, Grandma would take me to church (both literally and sometimes figuratively depending on my behavior). My mom would drop me off around 8 am before heading out for her waitressing gig which usually put me right on time to watch Grandma whip up one of her legendary cakes. This would be her weekly contribution for the luncheon that would take place after the church service. Everyone always looked forward to Grandma June’s cakes, especially me. I had never seen anyone make a cake from scratch before. My mother had always used a boxed cake mix so it was magic to watch Grandma June as she glided through the kitchen in her house coat and curlers and scooped, measured and mixed from memory until a heady and fragrant cake would emerge from the oven. One of her much beloved recipes was a 7 UP cake which I enjoyed the best because she only needed a 1/2 can of 7 UP and would let me drink the rest. 7 UP cake is a traditional Southern pound cake that uses 7 UP but no leavening agent. It’s dense and buttery with a crunchy exterior perfect for pairing with tea and coffee. I hadn’t thought about this cake in years until I saw a post for it on Instagram. I asked a couple of friends who grew up in the south about it and they all said their mom or grandma used to make it. My friend Steve gave me his mom’s recipe so I decided to make a batch. The taste immediately brought back a flood of wonderful memories. It just made me so appreciative for this loving couple who took me into their homes and treated me like family.
Grandma June’s 7 UP Pound Cake
(adapted from my friend Steve’s mom’s recipe)
1-1/2 cups (342 grams) butter, softened
3 cups (600 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon zest (or 1 tablespoon lemon extract)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup 7 UP or lemon-lime soda
1-1/2 cups (188 grams) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons 7UP
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest or lemon extract (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan.
Using a Kitchen-Aid or handle held mixer cream butter and sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lemon zest and vanilla. Add flour and salt in thirds. Mix in 7 UP.
Pour batter in prepared pan. Bake 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
For glaze, in a small bowl, mix powdered sugar, lemon juice and enough 7UP to reach desired consistency. If desired, stir in lemon zest. Let the cake cool completely then drizzle over cake. Give remainder of 7 UP can to a well deserving kid :)
Wait until glaze hardens (about 15 minutes)