OK, I’m going to tell you something, and you’re either not going to believe me, or you’re going to think I’m a freaking weirdo: I’ve never had root beer before. Along with late entry into peanut butter and jelly, burgers, and bacon, chuck it up to an immigrant childhood, where I just didn’t have a lot of traditional American foods because I was busy eating Israeli chocolate sandwiches. Truth be told, I never really liked soda, so it wasn’t something I sought out. However, the recipe for Root Beer Bundt Cake in BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking always sounded intriguing to me, though I couldn’t really tell you why. I had never made it, but I always thought it was one of the prettiest photos in the book. Fittingly, it is one of the last recipes that Baked Sunday Mornings is doing on the schedule until we end forever. I really wanted to get this one right; no– I wanted it to be perfect.
To get to that point, I had to bake it twice. A few things went wrong the first time, but the cake is so easy to make, that I honestly didn’t mind. Cake scraps for dinner, shall we? The first cake, made according to the directions, was quite small in a standard Bundt pan, such that I felt I could increase it by 50% without overflowing. Secondly, the recipe suggests locating some root beer schnapps to intensify the root beer flavor. After a couple of phone calls, I managed to locate some at a big box wine store. However, I made the first cake late at night and I was tired, so I completely spaced on swapping out ½ cup root beer for the alcohol. Naturally, I realized this riiiight as I was pouring the batter into the cake pan and couldn’t do anything about it at that point.￼￼￼ The third reason that I had to remake it (in other words, no choice), was because when I took the cake out of the oven, I flipped it over right away, since the recipe does not specify to wait any amount of time before doing so. Now, I’ve made more than my share of Bundt cakes, so I should’ve known better. But again, it was late at night, and I was tired, and I already knew I was remaking the cake, so I flipped it pretty much right away… and of course it completely fell apart. But OMG, it was wicked delicious!
For the second attempt, I managed to be a little bit more composed. I scaled up the recipe by 50%, and I wonder why the original recipe wasn’t written for this quantity, because it easily fit in a regular Bundt pan with plenty of room to spare. Perhaps it was because it required measurements like 1¾ +⅛ teaspoon baking soda? Anyway, besides that, it was very easy to increase the quantity. I did in fact swap out some of the root beer for schnapps, and it made a huge difference in the flavor￼! The first cake tasted like a very delicious chocolate cake with just a hint of root beer flavor. Like if I didn’t know what it was, I would not have guessed ‘root beer’. In contrast, the second cake was very root beer-forward, which complemented the chocolate beautifully. The other small change that I made was that I added vanilla extract. I was surprised that the recipe did not include any, as it always improves the flavor, so I added 1½ teaspoons to the scaled up recipe. (If making the original quantity, just use 1 teaspoon.) Another modification that I thought of after the fact, and which should be devastatingly delicious, is swapping out half of the cocoa powder for black cocoa. I am super excited to try that variation￼ next time– I would call it Oreo Root Beer Cake. The second cake baked in 55 minutes (the original smaller one in 38 minutes). It was unbelievably moist, and flipped out of the pan with zero sticking after about 20 minutes. I always hold my breath for a moment while flipping a Bundt cake, but since I started buttering and flouring my pan (regardless of whether the recipe says to use cooking spray), I’ve had very few issues with the cake sticking to the pan.
Now, the frosting. Not only is it about the easiest frosting one could ever make, it is probably one of the most delicious frostings I’ve ever had in my life. It’s a simple combination of confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, butter, melted chocolate, salt, and root beer, all dumped into the food processor and pulsed until smooth. I also added ½ teaspoon vanilla here, and I’m thinking next time I might swap half of the root beer for schnapps as well, because I could not taste the root beer flavor at all.￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ It spread easily onto the crown of the cake, and there was a lot left over, which I served alongside the broken cake to my coworkers, because who would waste a delicious cake like that??
This cake… WOW. It is one of the best Bundts I’ve ever made. It is moist, dense, deeply chocolaty– in my opinion, it is what I want every chocolate Bundt to be. It was interesting to taste both cakes side-by-side, and to be honest, I preferred the less root beer-y cake personally, because apparently I don’t love the taste of root beer that much. However, given that the point of the cake *is* to taste like root beer, I would make it with the schnapps. (Plus, what else am I supposed to do with root beer schnapps?) P.S. You’ll definitely want to serve this cake alongside vanilla ice cream as suggested in the book– it’s like a root beer float in cake form!
This cake would be a marvelous addition to any sort of American-themed meal or holiday, or really any occasion where you might want a fun, casual chocolate cake with a twist. Find the recipe for Root Beer Bundt Cake at Baked Sunday Mornings, and lots of people in your life will love you very, very much. Check out the other bakers’ cakes while you’re there! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2020.