Coca Cola isn't the only refreshing beverge that can be used in baking.

Southern Living

The editors at Southern Living magazine have been publishing delicious recipes for over 50 years. It stands to reason that, in all that time, some of those recipes would have risen above the others to be deemed the “best of the best.” The illustrious Hummingbird Cake is one such recipe, having enjoyed 40 years as the celebrated “most requested recipe of all time.” And while it may be hard to play on the same field with such a renowned recipe, Nanny’s Famous Coconut-Pineapple Cake is certainly a major contender. Published over 20 years ago, this 3-layer beauty is still a top-rated reader favorite, and along with boasting the tropical flavors of pineapple and coconut, this recipe contains a secret ingredient: 7-Up soft drink.

What makes this cake distinctive is the addition of lemon-lime soft drink to the ingredients. However, not just any citrus-flavored soft drink will do, as the Southern Living Test Kitchen Professionals discovered when they reviewed this recipe. 7-Up has a higher level of carbonation than Sprite, which helps the cake layers to rise beautifully. You may enjoy Sprite as a cool beverage with your grilled hamburgers, but choose 7-Up when baking this cake and you will be rewarded with a beautiful dessert that will delight all your guests.

WATCH: How To Make Perfectly Flat Cake Layers

In 1997, Erma Jean (Jeannie) Reese, of Warrenton, Georgia, sent in this family recipe in response to the Southern Living Celebrated Holiday Recipe Contest. The recipe had been passed down from Jeannie’s grandmother, Erma Johnson, or Nanny, as her family knew her. Jeannie almost didn’t enter the contest, but changed her mind at the last minute and stayed up all night typing the recipe so she could get it postmarked by the deadline. Jeannie was stunned six weeks later when Food Editor Susan Nash called to tell her she had won, and the recipe was published in the November, 1997, issue of Southern Living. Make this delightful layer cake for your next gathering and you will understand why it was worthy of being dubbed the 1997 Southern Living Dessert of the Year.