July 8, 2009
I love root beer. Like really, really love it. As a rule, I don’t drink pop, but I make an exception for the odd can of Barq’s or a bottle of old fashioned root beer. It’s a weakness.
Consider then, the excitement I felt when I casually sat down in Chapters with a copy of Baked, New Frontiers in Baking, only to flip right to this Root Beer Bundt Cake recipe. I bought the book right away. On my way home, I bought a bundt pan. I have thought about this cake more or less everyday since it came into my possession, but I saved it. This was a cake for a special occasion.
And a special occasion it is. Two years ago today Jeff and I met for the very first time after a week of exchanging very long e-mails and chatting online (we connected through an online dating site). It was early on a Sunday morning, so hot you could hardly breath. I was so excited I threw up.
Our plan to visit the Outdoor Art Exhibit was foiled by rain. Jeff asked if I might be interested in trying to navigate the PATH, Toronto’s underground walkway, and I was eagerly up for the challenge. We spent the rest of the day wandering around Toronto. He held my hand in Yonge Station. After we spotted Stephanie Kaye in the Annex I asked him if he wanted to come over and watch my old Degrassi VHS tapes. He did. And he never left.
I decided to save this cake to celebrate our anniversary because not only do I love root beer, Jeff does too. It’s one of our things, you know one of those silly things you discover early on in your relationship that you both love. Our first date as official boyfriend and girlfriend was a picnic lunch on a Tuesday afternoon. We had tuna sandwiches and apples and bottles of ice cold, old fashioned root beer.
Since then, we’ve enjoyed root beer goodness countless times together. This cake, incredibly fudgy and rich, was the perfect way to celebrate another year of enjoying root beer, and each others company. In fact there’s still a slice of cake left in the fridge, and I think we’ll go enjoy it, together, right now.
A note about root beer: If you are going to make this cake, and I know that many of you are, probably right this second, here is a word of advice. Don’t cheap out on your root beer. Get the good stuff, something made from real cane sugar, with “old fashioned” on the label. These types of root beers have much more flavour than national soda brands. You can get “good” root beer from most gourmet food shops or even in the natural/organic section of a large grocer like Loblaws. Whole Foods also has a good selection of natural and organic root beer. Splurging a bit will pay off in the end and give your cake more of a root beer flavour. If you can find root beer schnapps, even better. Replace the root beer with the schnapps and reduce the amount by half.
Root Beer Float Cake
Adapted from Baked, New Frontiers in Baking
2 cups root beer (do not use diet)
1 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
For the frosting:
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare 10-inch bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter and flour.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool in a large bowl.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
4. Whisk eggs in a small bowl until just beaten, then whisk into cooled cocoa mixture. Gently fold the flour mix into the cocoa. The batter should be slightly lumpy — do not overbeat (it could make cake tough).
5. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway mark. The cake is ready when a small knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.
Make the fudge frosting:
6. Put all the frosting ingredients into a food processor, pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth.
7. Ice cake using a spatula to spread frosting over the crown of the cake in a thick layer. Let frosting set before serving, with ice cream on the side. Die from deliciousness.