I know, it's an incredibly long post title. But it's also an incredibly good cake and deserving of such a lengthy intro.
We had our second annul Oktoberfeast this past weekend. We made a lot of the same things as last year, like the Sauerbraten, the Spaetzle, and the Sauerkraut. I wanted to make something for dessert - I think someone else brought a dessert last year - if we even had one. Anyway. My first thought was Black Forest Cake. But I'm not really nuts about it. The cherries. So then - still thinking chocolate - I thought - German Chocolate Cake! Heh heh. Okay, I think I read somewhere that it's not really German. I briefly thought I'd go back to the Black Forest cake but I really didn't want it, and yes, it's all about me and what I want.
So I switched gears and started thinking in terms of fruits. Kuchens. Apple Kuchen. Something like that. So I pulled out my late mother-in-law's index card boxes of recipes and found the bulging section of cakes. I pulled out the whole batch and started sorting through. I found a recipe for plum kuchen in her neat, graceful script and set that one aside. I continued on through the rest of them. Most weren't even German; they were just recipes that sounded really good for another time. And then I came across one of the many yellowed newspaper clippings.
The most-requested recipe during Helen Wilbur Richardson's editorship, this rich fudge cake doesn't taste of sauerkraut or beer. The kraut adds moistness.
Kraut and Beer Fudge Cake
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup beer
2/3 cup rinsed, drained and chopped sauerkraut
Cream butter or margarine with sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients; add alternately with beer to egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in kraut.
Turn into two greased, floured 8-inch round or square baking pans. Bake in 350 degree oven 40 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool on racks, then frost with vanilla or chocolate icing.
If preferred, bake in a tube pan for 60 minutes or until cake tests done.
I looked up Helen Wilbur Richardsardson, and it looks like she is/was the editor of The Boston Globe Cookbook (most recent edition was the 4th, published in 1996), and I'm therefore guessing she was an editor of, maybe, the food section at The Boston Globe once upon a time.
Anyway - I pretty much had to make this one. Bill had made beer (a Brown Ale). And Bill had made Sauerkraut. How cool would it be to make a cake and incorporate both of those (oddish) ingredients for our dinner, right?? So that's what I did.
Here are the ingredients - by the way, I doubled the recipe, so don't be alarmed if you read 3 eggs and you see 6. I'm just trying to keep people awake on here.
First up, I chopped the sauerkraut. Bill had started the batch a couple of weeks prior, so this was ready to go.
I think next time around I may chop it even smaller, or run it through the food processor. Just to see how that works, texture-wise.
Next, I sifted my dry ingredients together...
And while I had the cocoa powder out, I greased my cake pans and dusted them with the cocoa powder.
I used that instead of flour so I wouldn't have pale flour residue on the sides of the cake. Next time I think I'll combine flour and cocoa powder, because the cocoa powder alone left a pretty dark coating and the cake looked blackened.
Anyway. Time to start combining the wet things.
I tossed my butter into the bowl of the stand mixer and beat that for a while in order to soften the butter to the equivalent of room temperature. It was still on the colder side when I started, and I to warm it up some more.
One of the things I've noticed is that when your butter is nice and soft, you'll hear a slapping sound as the mixer paddle spins around the bowl - the butter flies from the paddle and slaps against the side of the bowl. That's when it's properly softened.
Next, I added the sugar and creamed that with the butter.
Next up...the eggs and vanilla...
Then the dry mixture and the beer, alternating one with the other, and ending with the dry.
And finally...the sauerkraut.
And into the assorted pans it went.
And into the oven they went. The smaller pans were done first - about 40 minutes later. The larger pan took about twenty minutes longer.
(I apologize - I have no pictures of the cakes after they came out of the pans, nor any once I'd plated two of them on a glass cake stand and glazed them.
This is what I have:
And the verdict?
An overwhelming OH YEAH from everyone that tried it.
The cake is incredibly chocolatey and moist with a little change in texture here and there (the sauerkraut) that didn't seem to bother anyone. It was interesting - at first (after I took it out of the oven and one of the cakes stuck to the pan and broke, and therefore I could see the insides really, really well) the bits of sauerkraut were quite visible - little odd bits of white against the dark cake. But by the next day, the kraut had absorbed the color of the cocoa powder (I assume) and blended right in, so the only remaining evidence of a vegetable was the occasional mystery crunch.
My cakes didn't look as lovely as I'd hoped...plus I broke one of them. So I made a chocolate glaze and drizzled that over the two layers (the ones that didn't break). The glaze was pretty good, too, but taste-wise, the cake was perfectly yummy without it.
(The last-minute glaze consisted of about two tablespoons each of shortening and butter, about 6 oz semi sweet chocolate and (honest) a Hershey bar. I also dumped in some confectioners' sugar (cup and a half or so) and around a cup of warm milk.)
Anyway, if you're looking for a chocolate cake recipe that's very good, very chocolatey, AND a conversation-starter, look no further. You've come to the right cake.