“Why can’t you make normal cakes?” asks my husband. Duh- that would be boring. I am very much that type of person who hears about something weird and crazy and instead of thinking “that sounds gross, I should stay away” I think “my god, that sounds gross! there must be something to it!” I’ve ordered a mustard cocktail, miso ice cream, and spicy pepper ice cream. This is one of those instances- sauerkraut? In a cake?
Another appeal of this cake is that it has Pennsylvania Dutch roots. I probably should make a post of all the regional recipes featured on this blog. And this isn’t the only Pennsylvanian dutch recipe featured in the book. There the shoofly pie, which pushes the definition of a cake (and a pie) and the Moravian Sugar Cake, which sadly I know I will not have anytime to attempt (it uses yeast.)
Since it is National Chocolate Cupcake Day, here is a little fun chocolate cake history. It took quite sometime for bakers to add chocolate to their sweets. Originally chocolate was viewed as a medicine, and was more focused in Europe for melting in milk, or making milk chocolate bars. I think you can hear more about this evolution from Stuff You Missed in History Class But slowly it made it’s way in a cookbook in a very small amount in a spiced cake. Sarah Roerer takes the credit for pouring melted chocolate into a cake, to make a “healthy” cake. Do you think we will be laughing about how we make “superfood” desserts by adding spirulina and maca to our cakes in the future?
And there may be many of you wondering “what’s up with Devil’s Food Cake?” This is something I’ve been wondering for a LONG time as a child. According to Wikipedia and American Cakes– not much. Early recipes used a lot of different things in the batter- sour milk, heavy cream, sour cream, baking powder, baking soda, white sugar, brown sugar, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, spices, and even mashed potatoes. Confusing huh? Make things even more confusing not all Devil’s Food cakes has the same frosting. What can be agreed on that Devil’s Food Cake is a fun name next to the other American classic- Angel’s Food Cake. And in general, there’s more chocolate than normal so the cake is super rich and dark.
The recipe in American Cakes calls for chocolate sour cream frosting. The recipe reminded me of the simple chocolate mousse recipes I’ve seen using silken tofu. I would make my own sour cream from silken tofu anyways, so I just used the Chocolate Mousse from The Post Punk Kitchen (from the Cupcakes Take Over the World cookbook) Depending on how you like the frosting you can halve the recipe. I use maybe 60% of the recipe, but it is plausible to use the whole thing.
Just like the book, I used canned sauerkraut. It worked out fine, but I think you would probably get dreamier texture by using homemade or “fresher” sauerkraut. I normally buy jarred sauerkraut but I didn’t have two cups. If you don’t really like sauerkraut but want to give this recipe a go, I suggest sticking with canned. It will have exactly enough you need.
Like any cake recipe this really isn’t “healthy.” But it does have a fair amount of iron and vitamin c (from the sauerkraut and cocoa powder). So I guess if you are a menstruating pirate- this will help fight anemia and scurvy! If you are a fretful parent who is thinking about making a fruit cake for their baby’s first birthday, this one isn’t the worst. You can cut down on the salt and sugar. And the frosting is made with tofu so you get a little bonus protein!
That being said, I am all for just straight up enjoying your cake. I liked the taste, and I think I would just chop the sauerkraut more in the future. It is super moist and easy to make. Oh and a little extra fiber. What is there not to like?
- 3 tbsp chia seed ground
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cups sauerkraut*
- 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) vegan butter
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 recipe of vegan chocolate mousse
1Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round pans, or line the bottoms with parchment paper. 2Combine the ground chia seeds and water together in a bowl. Set aside so it can gel up. 3Drain and rinse the sauerkraut. This is important to remove most of the "tangy" flavors. Then squeeze the sauerkraut to remove any extra liquids. 4Place the vegan butter and sugar into a mixing bowl, and beat with a mixer until creamy. Add the chia seeds and beat until mixed, scraping down as needed. 5In a seperate bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Stir together. 6Take the sauerkraut and chop until fine. Using a food processor is fine but you want the pieces to be small- not a puree. 7Add half of the dry mixture to the creamed sugar, butter, and chia mixture. Slowly add half of the water. Then add the rest of the dry mixture until mixed, then the water till mixed. 8Fold in the sauerkraut. Pour the batter into the two pans, and place in the oven. 9Bake for 25-30 minutes. You want the cake to pull away from the pan, and spring back when lightly pressed in the center. Place on wire racks for 10 minutes,. Run a knife around the edges and remove from pan. Let them continue to cool right side up. 10Once the cakes are cooled and frosting is made, assemble by placing one layer down first. Add about 2/3-3/4 cup of frosting on top. Place the second cake on top. Add the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake. *The original recipe says they used canned sauerkraut (in a 14.5 oz can) and it worked fine. But if you have fresh homemade sauerkraut it will probably be tastier.