Monday, December 21, 2009

Betty's 7-Up Pound Cake

This is one of my very favorite recipes that I discovered in the handwritten recipe notebooks I inherited from my grandmother, Gaga. The original recipe was from Betty Layman, her daughter-in-law and my aunt. I remember Gaga loved this cake and served it often at family gatherings. It was so delicious, almost tasting like an eggnog cake, which makes it nice to have around Christmas. The secret ingredient is ground mace, which is similar to nutmeg and derived from the same plant, but has a fruity, delicate flavor. (Nutmeg is the spice taken from the seed, while mace is derived from the dried outer covering of the nutmeg fruit seed.)

To reproduce this recipe in a reduced-carb version was a challenge because, like all pound cakes, the list of ingredients included loads of butter, buckets of sugar and a barrel of flour (see the comparative nutritional information for the original recipe below). There is nothing healthy or diabetic-friendly about any flavor of pound cake! Honestly, I wasn't sure a makeover was possible until I figured out a way to reduce the saturated fat by substituting mascarpone cheese for a good portion of the fat in the recipe and adding imitation butter extract to keep that rich, buttery flavor that is the signature feature of a pound cake. Swapping out almond flour for most of the white flour and using Splenda in place of all but ½ cup of the sugar reduced the carbs by two-thirds! The final result was a delightful surprise. This cake has all the flavor and texture of the original that I so fondly recall from my childhood with only 12 net carbs per slice! I dedicate this recipe to my Aunt Betty and Gaga, who both are my source of inspiration and the memory makers that have made this special dessert a favorite of my family for as long as I can remember.

Betty's 7-Up Pound Cake
(Makes 20 servings)

¾ cup all-purpose flour
1¾ cups almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mace
6 tablespoons butter, softened
6 oz. mascarpone cheese (12 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
½ cup sugar
2 cups Splenda, granular (not baking blend)
3 eggs, room temperature
2 egg whites
1½ tablespoons imitation butter flavor extract
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup 7-Up (or other lemon-lime soft drink, not diet)

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Prepare a Bundt pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Measure and sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and mace together into a medium mixing bowl; set aside.

2. In a large bowl and using a mixer, cream together the butter, mascarpone cheese and shortening until fluffy. Add the sugar and ½ of the Splenda and cream with the butter mixture. Add the remaining cup of Splenda and continue beating until well blended. Add the eggs and egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the extracts and beat until incorporated.

3. Alternately add the flour mixture and 7-Up, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat until well blended. Pour into prepared Bundt pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cake is supposed to come out brown, crisp and yummy!

Nutritional Information per serving: 188 calories, 13.6 g carbohydrate, 13.2 g total fat, 4.9 g saturated fat, 1.2 g fiber, 4.5 g protein.

Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009.
Inspired by a recipe by my aunt, Betty Layman.

How does this compare with the traditional family recipe? The traditional recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter and ½ cup shortening, 3 cups sugar, 5 eggs and 3 cups of white flour. Just reading the list of ingredients clogged my arteries and sent my cholesterol and blood glucose sky high! Without sacrificing the delicious flavor of the original, my makeover recipe is over 130 calories less and has less than 1/3 of the carbohydrates, not to mention a significant reduction of saturated fat per slice. For comparison, the nutritional information for the same size piece made from the original recipe is 321 calories, 44.3 g carbohydrate, 15.3 g total fat, 7.3 g saturated fat, 0.5 g fiber, 3.5 g protein.


  1. I also loved this cake as a child! I can't wait to try the healthed-up version.

  2. I also loved this cake. The first time I made the cake I followed the recipe to the letter and the texture was perfect. The taste was good too, ecpect I felt the mace was kind of strong. The second time I made the cake I dicreased the mace by 1/2 and replaced the other half with cinnamon. I also added 1 tablespoon of rum flavor. I also used two whole eggs and three egg whites hoping to make the cake a little less dense. The flavor was great, but the texture was a little gummy. Was it because I didn't use all mace, changed the egg combination, or the extra tablespoon of rum flavor. What do you think? The recipe is great I just think the mace is a little strong.

  3. It was probably due to changing the egg mixture. The cake is dense, like most pound cakes. Just reduce the mace and, like you suggested, add cinnamon. Also, when mixing, be sure to whip as much air into the batter as possible before baking. That will help too.