Best Bets: Sock It To Me Cake

The Sock It To Me Cake at Neely's Bar-B-Que Restaurant.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

The Sock It To Me Cake at Neely's Bar-B-Que Restaurant.

The Sock It To Me Cake at Neely’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant ranks close to the late Mrs. Pandolfi’s pound cake.

I use her cake as the standard to measure other cakes by. She ran the cafeteria when I was in grade school at Blessed Sacrament back in the 1950s and ’60s. One time I tasted her buttery-rich pound cake, which obviously was made from scratch. I’ve never forgotten it.

The Sock It To Me Cake at Neely's Bar-B-Que Restaurant.

Photo by Michael Donahue

The Sock It To Me Cake at Neely's Bar-B-Que Restaurant.

The Sock It To Me Cake at Neely’s looks like a coffee cake, but that’s the end of the resemblance. It’s not dry; it’s very moist. You can taste some kind of almond flavoring. It’s also got nuts in it.

I called Tony Neely to get the history of their version of the Sock It To Me Cake.

His mother, Lorine Neely, and his sister, Jackie Gilbert, have been making the cake, but his mom recently “handed the baton off to my sister,” Tony said.

But, he said, “It’s my mother’s signature, so to speak. It’s her stamp on Neely’s Bar-B-Que.”

The Sock It To Me Cake has been a staple at Neely’s for some time. “Mother worked for the National Bank of Commerce, which is now SunTrust, for almost 20 years. When she retired in the early ’90s, we had to find something for her to do. She kind of collaborated with my ex-wife, and they started working on the recipe and really perfected it.”

The cake has a butter base and pecans or walnuts in it, and “cinnamon and brown sugar in the middle that makes it all crazy.”

As for how to put it all together, Tony said, “I don’t have a clue how to make it. They won’t even give me the recipe to it. It’s been featured on ‘Down Home with the Neely’s.’”

He’s since curbed his appetite for the cake, but Tony said, “I remember I would get a craving and literally drive to the restaurant at 2 in the morning — almost still have my pajamas on — and grab me a piece and a cup of milk and drive back home.”

Oh, yes — Sock It To Me Cake goes great with barbecue.

Neely’s Bar-B-Que Restaurants are at 670 Jefferson, 521-9798; and at 5700 Mt. Moriah Road Ext., 795-4177.

— Michael Donahue: 529-2797. donahue@commercialappeal.com

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