It was a family party, Grandma Maloney’s birthday party—barbeques and salads and Mike’s homemade root beer. We were to bring the cakes. We couldn’t bring just any cake so we started experimenting.
We had some root beer soda left over from our camping trip. Why not use that? The carbonation will create bubbles in the batter. We added buttermilk. Buttermilk is an acid and will react with soda, an alkaline creating additional leavening.
Three cakes later, we had a very good cake. It was surprisingly light and moist with just a hint of root beer flavor. We wanted it chocolaty but not so much that it overwhelmed the root beer flavor. This worked.
The cake got a thumbs up—from youngest to oldest. You’ll want to add this to your recipe collection.
Root Beer Chocolate Cake Recipe
This interesting cake has just a touch of root beer flavor but it comes out light and moist. Be sure to use root beer with sugar in it, not sugar-free.
3/4 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 12-ounce can root beer, not sugar-free
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and dust with flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
1. Cream the shortening and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Beat for five or six minutes so that the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla.
2. In another bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, salt and soda together.
3. In three or four additions, add the dry ingredients and the liquids to the creamed mixture alternately starting and ending with the dry ingredients. (Each time that we made this, we added the buttermilk first then one half of the soda and finally, the rest of the soda.) Mix only until smooth.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool completely before frosting with the frosting of your choice.
Baker’s Note: When making a cake such as this, you are mixing oil (shortening) and water (soda pop and buttermilk)—which don’t mix. The egg yolks act as an emulsifier, a bonding agent between the oil and water molecules and the flour absorbs much of the water. That is why you start with the flour addition—so that the water doesn’t overload the fat mixture before the flour is there to start absorbing water. It’s also why you add the liquids in stages between the flour additions.
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Chocolate Butter Frosting
We used this frosting for our Root Beer Chocolate Cake. It’s a simple frosting that works well on any cake.
3/4 cup butter
about 5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional milk as required
Cream the butter. Add half the powdered sugar and two tablespoons milk. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar, beating as you go. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate. Add more milk as required to reach a spreadable consistency.