For some reason, I associate January with lemon.
Maybe it's because January represents a fresh start -- with a whole new year of possibilities ahead -- and the scent of lemon is as fresh as it gets.
Or perhaps it's the scents of lemon furniture polish and floor cleaner that come after holidays when I sweep out the last of the pine needles and "un-decorate" the house.
Regardless, it seemed appropriate that for New Year's Eve my family enjoyed lemon pound cake for dessert. Not just any lemon pound cake -- but 7UP Lemon Pound Cake made by my 6-year-old niece, Maria.
At her young age, Maria is becoming quite the baker.
Buoyed by her success with her Easy Bake Oven, she is eager to take on bigger projects. I think she was intrigued by this recipe's use of soda as an ingredient.
For weeks, Maria had been telling us that she was going to make the cake for Christmas. Somehow, though, it got lost among the gingerbread houses and cookies.
A break from school, however, provided her with the free time she (and her mother) needed.
My sister assured us that Maria had, indeed, done the work, cracking all five eggs needed for the batter and helping to measure the flour and sugar.
The cake, we all agreed, was her best work yet.
The family oohed and aahed at her creation and took pictures as she took a knife to make the first cut. We listened intently as she explained that the recipe included a frosting, but she and her mother had opted instead to coat it with a simple glaze.
Naturally, I asked her to share the recipe.
"No," she answered emphatically. "Bakers don't share their recipes."
And then, to defend her position from the shocked looks on our faces, she added, "I heard that on a show."
My sister texted the recipe a few days later.
When I called Maria to tell her that I had made the cake, she quickly asked whether I had used the frosting or the glaze.
I explained that I had just dusted the cake with powdered sugar to make it look as if it were coated with fresh snow, yielding a squeal of delight on the other end of the phone.
In truth, I thought the cake was sweet enough on its own; I dusted it with the sugar just to dress it up a bit.
The cake is delicious and perfect for January, with its fresh taste that cuts through heavy winter flavors.
Food editors always share their recipes -- so enjoy.
7UP LEMON POUND CAKE
Makes 16 servings
For the cake:
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon extract
3/4 cup 7UP
For the icing:
3 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour, beat in lemon extract and 7UP. Grease and flour well a large Bundt pan or tube pan.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done.
Ice when cool.
To prepare icing, beat ingredients together until smooth.
In the alternative, dust cake with powdered sugar or coat with a glaze made from beating 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 cup milk (or 7UP) and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract together until smooth.
PER SERVING: 420 calories, 4 g protein, 57 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 39 g sugars, 19 g fat (11 saturated), 113 mg cholesterol, 26 mg sodium
-- Lisa Abraham writes about food for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @DispatchKitchen.