Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! It was a wonderful day filled with some of my favorite things: good coffee, looking at pretty kitchen things, hot yoga, baking with friends, and eating great food.
I decided a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to bake my own birthday cake, and after seeing dozens of posts on Root Beer Bundt Cake from the Baked cookbook around the interwebs, I knew exactly what I wanted. Root beer is one of my favorite things around, and what’s not to love about chocolate cake? The only glitch: I don’t own a bundt pan. But who wants a bundt cake for a birthday cake anyway? Not I, said the birthday girl.
As it turns out, turning a bundt cake recipe into a two-layer cake recipe requires nothing more than pouring the batter into two cake pans instead of one bundt pan and reducing the baking time (thanks to Honey & Jam for the idea). Because I don’t believe that any cake is worth eating unless it’s covered in good frosting, I doubled the frosting recipe so I had enough to go between the layers, on the sides, and generously over the top. Thank god I did, because this frosting is delicious (the cake is, too!). The root beer flavor wasn’t really noticeable in the cake or the frosting, so next time I’ll probably use some root beer schnapps in place of some of the soda. That way I can sip extra schnapps while I bake instead of drinking the extra half bottle of root beer – why didn’t I think of this before?
Root Beer Chocolate Cake
For the cake:
- 2 cups root beer (not diet, which hopefully you already knew)
- 1 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
For the frosting (enough for a two-layer cake):
- 4 oz. dark chocolate (60%), melted and cooled slightly
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup root beer
- 1 1/3 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 325. Spray two 9″ cake pans with non-stick cooking spray (or butter and dust with flour).
- Heat root beer, cocoa, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add both sugars and whisk until they’re dissolved. Remove mixture from heat, and set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten.
- Whisk the eggs into the cooled chocolate/root beer mixture. Add the flour to the pan of liquids, and gently fold it in – there will still be lumps when you’re done. Don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with a tough cake.
- Pour half of the batter into each pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes (35-45 minutes if making a bundt cake), rotating halfway through. Cakes are done when a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Transfer the cakes, still in their pans, to a rack to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and cocoa for a few minutes, until combined and slightly fluffy.
- Add the melted chocolate, salt, root beer, and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth, scraping down the bowl (especially the bottom) a couple of times as you go.
- When the cakes have cooled completely, gently loosen around the edges of the pan with a butter knife, and turn them out onto a plate or tray.
- Spread about 1/3 of the frosting over one of the cakes, and place the second cake on top. Use an offset spatula to spread the remaining frosting over the top and around the sides of the cakes.
I couldn’t thoroughly enjoy my slice of cake (or surprise scoop of Sebastian Joe’s mint chip ice cream) last night because my stomach was so full of pasta with clams that I couldn’t completely taste or see or think, but after having another slice this afternoon, I enthusiastically recommend this cake to any chocolate or root beer fan.
Also, this is a lot of cake for two people to eat, so let me know if you’d like to come over for a slice!