Friday, September 25, 2009

What's this about a root beer cake?

I've always had a thing for root beer. When I was little, my sister and I took tap lessons at a dance studio that happened to be near an A&W. Sometimes after class my mom would take us there for a treat.  We preferred A&W to other fast food places because they made baby burgers for kids, perfectly sized for little paws.

"What would you like to order, Hungry Dog?" my mother would ask.

"A baby burger," I'd reply, not missing a beat, "and a root beer float."

Remember those days? When you'd order a root beer a beverage? Ah, the decadence of being a kid in the 70's, before the obesity epidemic and trans fat frenzy. We thought nothing, and neither did our parents, of consuming red meat and processed foods at each meal. We didn't think twice of saying, "I'll have a cheeseburger and a root beer float, and I'll take a sundae for dessert."

Those post-dance class floats--served in frosty mugs and made not with ice cream but vanilla soft serve--remain one of my happiest memories. While I haven't made it to an A&W in decades, I still love root beer and I do enjoy a good float, although now I like it with Henry Weinhard root beer and Haagen Daaz vanilla. And root beer floats are one of my favorite desserts to serve to guests. I have the perfect float glasses and special spoons that double as straws.

I've never played around with root beer much, though, baking-wise. So when I came across this recipe for root beer cake, I just about lost my mind. Immediately, I began wondering where I could buy a bundt pan on the way home from work. I mentally poured over the pantry. Did I have the right kind of cocoa? Dark brown sugar? Was there root beer in the house? I became obsessed. I even mentioned root beer cake in a facebook status.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who can get behind a root beer cake. Within moments of posting my status, several people made comments. The husband wanted to know when he could expect to see this cake. Desiree wanted the recipe. Cynthia reported that she currently had a root beer sitting on her desk and wanted to know what else she needed to turn it into a cake.

The cake was gaining momentum. It wanted me to make it. So I did.

The cake was simple to put together and didn't take long to bake. Once I'd removed the cake from the oven, I admired it in its attractive green bundt shell.

A little bit later, I popped it out and frosted it with root beer fudge icing.

"Hey, Hungry Dog, what's that sprinkled on top of the cake?" you're wondering.

Oh yeah. The cake is sprinkled with sea salt. SEA SALT. Genius.

The cake was delicious and moist, more of a chocolate cake reminiscent of root beer than a straight-up root beer cake. But that's probably just as well. A cake that tastes like a can of soda might be a bit much.  But a cake that has cocoa and dark chocolate and coarse sea salt, a grown up version of that favorite dessert you had as a kid, well that's just about perfect.


  1. Oh Wow.

    I'm with Bob.

    I'm speechless.

    Now where am I going to get root beer in Belgium? Hmmmm?

  2. Nice!!! And that is a cute bundt pan. Ha ha, I have the opposite problem. I bought a bundt pan awhile ago and haven't figured out what to bake with it yet.

  3. I've made this from the "Baked'' cookbook, too. It's incredible. It's amazing how moist it is, even two or three days later when you're still nibbling on the leftovers. ;)

  4. Thanks for the link to my blog and I'm with you - it is an awesome cake. I can't wait to make it again. And I thought it was the sea salt that took it over the edge. I love salty chocolate stuff. Yum.

  5. Wow! We used to go to A&W too, and I loved, loved the rootbeer floats, and if I remember correctly- onion rings! This cake looks very "must-try". Love the green bundt pan.

  6. Thanks, everyone! I suggest you all give it a try. It's so simple and really seemed to hold up over a few days as Food Gal said. Thank you to Michelle for pointing me toward the recipe in the first place! And Shaz: you're right about the onion rings!

  7. the cake's great, obviously. however, my heart stops at the very notion of root beer fudge frosting. sakes alive.

  8. Ooh man. This brings back memories of my own post-ballet treat - we would get Snapple "Tru Root Beer" at the convenience store below the studio in Nyack, NY. On the way home in the car (4 p.m. every Thursday), a Madonna song would inevitably be on Z100 (often "Material Girl"). I haven't found a Tru Root Beer in years. I'll have to make this cake as a substitute. Yum.

  9. Oh... Weinhard's root beer. You are a girl after my own heart. What I wouldn't give for a bottle of that right now.

    Your cake looks delicious, too.

  10. Bring back the 50's! After a night at the local drive-in movie & a few smooches with the "steady", a quick stop at the A & W for cheeseburgers and root beer floats, or just a frosty mug of the bubbly root beer. What a happy teenage life!

    Tasted the rb cake with Auntie Char and Uncle Dick. Char says it tastes alot like a chocolate cake that we served at the Evergreen Dinette in the 50's! Nostalgic yumminess! Bring back the 50's and the crooners and the root beer drive-ins! MOM

  11. Ash: Good times!

    croquecamille: While I can enjoy a lot of root beers, Weinhard's is superior. I LOVE it.

    Mom: Glad you all enjoyed the cake and that it survived a few days! It's a great dessert...especially with vanilla ice cream. :)

  12. Yum, that sounds amazing with the sea salt sprinkled on top. Did you serve it with a rootbeer float? ;-)

  13. I've only used my Bundt Pan once so I'd love to give this recipe a try. I LOVE Root Beer Floats!

  14. My dad used to take us to that same A&W, but he told us not to tell my mom. In the 80's it became a Chinese restaurant with good inexpensive Peking Duck.

    I don't think Vanilla ice cream tastes the same. Back then it was just cream, sugar and vanilla.

  15. Single Guy: You just blew my min--root beer cake with root beer float! I'm on it...

    Cookie: You should try it! And I'm now on the hunt for bundt cake recipes. I'll post about any good ones I find.

    Alis: The one in Menlo Park? How funny that your dad wanted to keep it secret. Bet you loved that.

  16. Oh man, you've got me craving a root beer float. The cake looks fantastic, love the sprinkle of salt.

  17. wow, that looks so awesome! I love rootbeer floats, but never heard of such a cake and that frosting looks perfect with the sprinkles... did you take tap from Mr. B?

  18. Samantha: nothing beats a root beer float! Except maybe this cake.

    foodhoe: We took tap at a place called the Menlo Park dance academy or something similar ..I don't know if it's still there. I think the teacher was Roseanne or Roxanne. We also had a teacher named Dottie White. Where was Mr. B?