Or “cocoa-cola cake,” as it was called in the 1960s. (Get it?)
Apart from the Coke, the classic recipe is a lot like a red velvet cake, which we talked about in the post for red velvet cake from Westborough, Massachusetts.
One of the minor gustatory stereotypes that tends to prove true over time is that Southerners love their sugar-water. A quick review of the cities of origin of American soft drinks will reveal that most of the big names started in places with their own style of barbecue.
The earliest recipe for a cake like this that I’ve seen omits the brand name. From the August 8, 1952 edition of The Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette (where it was described as “unusual”):
This recipe for Chocolate Cola Cake was submitted by Mrs. E. D. Greer of Lillybrook, W. Va.:
Sift flour, soda, salt, sugar, and cocoa into large bowl. Add shortening, buttermilk, Cola beverage and beat for 1-1/2 minutes with electric beater at low speed. Add one whole egg and two egg yolks. Beat for 1-1/2 minutes. Pour into two well-greased and lightly floured layer pans. Bake in moderate oven 30 to 35 minutes. Cool and frost with Cola frosting, given below:
2 egg whites
Combine ingredients in top of double boiler. Cook over rapidly boiling water, beating all the while, until mixture stands in peaks. Remove from heat and continue beating until thick enough to spread.
Mrs. Greer’s recipe took third place in the weekly contest run by the Gazette, coming in behind first place’s pineapple mint sherbet (which took the only prize, $5) and second place’s “marbled lettuce,” which was essentially a wedge salad with a dressing of mixed cream cheese and vegetables. But hey, maybe the country wasn’t ready for cola cake yet.
For a more detailed look at the instructions, let’s check out this version printed in the May 20, 1992 edition of The Orange County Register (cited to Phil Brittan’s 1982 book Texas on the Half-Shell):
Coca-Cola Chocolate Cake
Preliminaries: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter or margarine; set aside.
Procedure for cake: Place butter or margarine, Coca-Cola and cocoa in a saucepan; heat until boiling. Cool slightly and place in large bowl or large bowl of electric mixer.
Combine buttermilk, soda, vanilla and marshmallows in a small bowl; add to chocolate mixture and mix until blended.
Combine sugar and eggs; beat until smooth. Add flour and mix until blended. Add to chocolate mixture and mix until blended.
Pour into prepared 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes.
Procedure for frosting: Place butter or margarine, cocoa and Coca-Cola to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in sugar; beat until blended. Stir in nuts.
Presentation: Pierce hot cake with fork and let frosting run into holes. Allow to rest for at least 1 hour.
Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings.
(From “Texas on the Half-Shell.”)
The Coca-Cola cake got more famous after 1997, when the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain (which we talked about a little bit in the post for Auntie Salami hors d’oeuvres from Martinez, California) decided to add the cake to its menu in an effort to expand cola-based offerings. (Fair enough, I guess; if you want to emphasize how country you are, using more soda is probably the way to start.)
Due to a mathematical error by the vendor they went to in order to make the cakes, the upscaled recipe ended up using twice as much cocoa as the original recipe required. The change was a hit, and the cake became the Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake.
So if you’re feeling Cracker-Barrel-y, well, double the cocoa.
We talked a bit about how Coca-Cola evolved into a thing in the post for french dressing (no, really) from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And the Coca-Cola company has six variations on this theme to share.
From the box of F.T. from Great Bend, Kansas.
Chocolate Cake With Coke
- 1 c. butter
- 1-3/4 c. sugar
- 2 c. flour
- 3 Tbsp. cocoa
- 1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 c. Coke
1-1/2 c. marshmallows
350 deg. for 45 minutes. Layer — 30 minutes.
- 1/2 c. butter
- 3 tsp. cocoa
- 1 box sifted sugar
- 1/3 c. Coke