Southern “Pepsi” Cake

cakeI’ve never been big into baking:  it’s such a science; and to put it plainly, science has never been my forte.  I like to be whimsical and experimental in the kitchen.  A splash of this here, a little extra salt there, swap out thyme for rosemary et voila, you’ve created your own recipe.  Change too many ingredients in Grandma’s cookie recipe on the other hand, and you’re lucky if you get a cookie at all. But dessert is the inevitable finale to a memorable meal, and I have been challenging myself to create desserts for HiB that both complement and stand up to the previous three courses.

The problem is: I don’t love cake. I know it’s strange, but it’s never really done it for me. But one thing Hungry in Brooklyn has taught me is that you can’t always just cook for yourself.  Not everyone is going to think a poached pear is the best dessert on the face of the planet, and not everyone is going to go crazy for chocolate covered bacon.  So, let them eat cake.

My favorite cake is actually the Chocolate Pepsi Cake from Relish in Brooklyn.  It is so perfect I would never dream of asking for the recipe, so I decided to create my own. It’s seriously heaven and tastes so good with a cup of coffee.  The only problem is, nobody ever wants coffee by the end of an HiB because alcohol wins over caffeine every time.  So I thought, why not incorporate the coffee INTO the cake?  I get the pairing I desire, and the guests get to keep drinking their wine.

The result?  Caffeine Cake:  Cocoa, Coffee, and Cola.

TIP:  If you’re not going to use an organic cola, look for either Mexican Coca-Cola in the tall glass bottles or Pepsi Throwback.  Both are made with sugar as opposed to high fructose corn syrup. This may be dessert, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be responsible.

Shea’s Southern Pepsi Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups Self Rising Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar 
  • 4 heaping TBS dutch cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 sticks + 2 TBS organic unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup cola
  • 2 TBSP instant espresso 
  • 1/4 cup whole milk 
  • 2 large eggs, beaten 
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • chocolate sprinkles

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

  • 2 sticks butter 
  • 1 pound confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup dutch cocoa powder
  • 3 TBS cola

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans.  Set aside.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt together in a large bowl.  Add the sugar and whisk.  In the meantime, melt the butter, cola and instant espresso together over low heat.  Add to the dry ingredients along with the milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir until just combined and pour into the pans.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Beat all the ingredients together for the icing until light and fluffy.  Adjust the amount of cocoa to your liking.

Once the cakes are cool, spread some of the icing on top of the first cake, gently set the other cake on top and ice the whole thing.  Top with chocolate sprinkles and then dig in!