If you read the newspapers regularly years ago, you may remember Ann Landers. She was the very popular advice columnist who advised many people through the letters her readers sent in to her with their problems. She answered questions on virtually anything you could think of and she did this for over forty years. She passed away some years ago, but people still remember her today.
Every once in a good while, Ann would deviate from giving advice and print a recipe. She was well-known for her meatloaf recipe, which was printed numerous times over the years and is wonderful!. I ran this recipe some years ago and if you would like the recipe, follow this link to get it:
She also ran a recipe in her column for a cake that really drew some reaction! That recipe, called "Good Cheap Cake", is basically a ginger ale pound cake. It's not really "cheap" to make, but since it's made with margarine instead of butter, as well as ginger ale instead of milk, it is slightly less expensive compared to using butter and milk. When the recipe originally ran in Ann's column, some newspapers misprinted the recipe, causing cooks across the country to write to Ann, complaining that the recipe didn't work. Ann investigated the situation and discovered that some newspapers made some serious mistakes in printing her recipe. For example, where it calls for 1/2 teaspoon each of lemon extract and almond extract, one newspaper printed 12 teaspoons of each and instead of 3 sticks of butter, it printed 13 pounds of butter! So, she clarified the directions and it ran again, except this time, she placed the following disclaimer: "This recipe will appear in over 1,100 newspapers. A typesetter somewhere is sure to goof up. If you cake flops, I don't want to hear about it."
Well, I can say that I've made the recipe and had great luck with it! The recipe, as I mentioned, calls for margarine. However, if you want to use butter, you certainly could. If you choose margarine, make sure that you choose a brand that's at least 70% vegetable oil. Since this recipe was printed, many margarine products are now "spreads" since they contain more water. If you really want to play it safe, go with butter, although it will be more expensive to make. To me, you really don't have a true pound cake if you don't use butter! Also, when choosing ginger ale, use the regular ginger ale and NOT the diet version. The "diet" or "sugar-free" versions won't perform the same as the regular product.
The recipe can be baked in two loaf pans or one tube pan, whichever you prefer. It calls for an interesting baking temperature of 275 degrees, which is correct. It will bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, though the tube pan may take longer. The loaf pan idea is great if you want to share a cake with someone else or freeze one to have another time.
The cake is really very good, with a light, tender texture. The recipe is below and I can assure you that it IS correct! Follow the directions I've given you, as well as those in the recipe, and you should be in great shape and have a great cake!
ANN LANDERS' "GOOD CHEAP CAKE"
- 3 sticks good quality margarine or butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 7/8 cup (1 cup minus two tablespoons) ginger ale
Cream the margarine until light. Cream in the sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in 1 cup of the flour, along with the extracts and a little of the ginger ale. Continue adding flour, alternating with ginger ale, until all ingredients are added. Pour batter into two greased and floured 9x5 inch loaf pans or one greased and floured 10 inch tube pan. Bake in a preheated 275 degree oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until a cake tester (I use a toothpick) inserted in the middle comes out clean and cake has begun to shrink from the sides of the pan. Let cool slightly before turning out onto serving plate. Yield: 2 loaves or 1 tube cake.