Cheerwine pound cake might sound like a novelty, but it is a seriously good and proper pound cake, worthy of a place on a cake stand.
Most beloved soft drinks were invented in the South.
That makes sense. All over the world, sweet beverages are most popular in hot, humid places. Many traditional soft drinks were the invention of shopkeepers and pharmacists who appreciated that their clients could use a little refreshment and relief, not to mention a boost from copious amounts of caffeine and other stimulants.
Certain soft drinks enjoy a devotion so deep and true that it could be called a cult following. That certainly applies to Cheerwine. In 1917 a general-store owner in Salisbury named L.D. Peeler created this fizzy concoction.
There is no historical marker for the first time and place that some creative home cook poured soda pop into cake batter, but the idea took hold fast, especially as these products flourished after World War II. Almost all community cookbooks include a recipe or two for a cola cake.
Cheerwine pound cake has a delicate golden crust and a moist, dense crumb. It needs no frosting, only a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar, like fairy dust. It keeps well for days, if it lasts that long.
Cheerwine Pound Cake
Makes one 10-inch cake
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup Cheerwine soft drink
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Red food coloring gel, as desired (optional)
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch, light-colored metal tube (angel food) pan, tapping out any excess flour. (A dark metal or heavy Bundt pan will make the crust too dark and thick and will interfere with the baking time.)
2. Beat the butter, shortening, and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer set to high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Whisk together the flour and salt in another large bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with half of the Cheerwine, beating only until the batter is smooth after each addition. Quickly beat in the lemon and almond extract.
5. If you want the cake to have a deep pink color that suggests Cheerwine, tint the batter with the gel. Start with a little and work up to the desired shade, keeping in mind that a large amount of food coloring can make the cake taste bitter.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.
7. Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out the cake onto the rack and let cool to room temperature. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if you wish.
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Sheri Castle is an award-winning food writer and cooking teacher. She hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains but lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, daughter, and beloved dog. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook. This is her first story for Our State.