Tuesday, August 9, 2011
I hardly ever drink soda. I think it might have something to do with the 5th grade science project I did, where I dropped iron nails into different cans of soda to see how fast they would dissolve. I don't remember which soda was the worst, but I do remember that all the nails disintegrated pretty quickly, and even then I was horrified at the thought of what that stuff would do to your teeth and insides. That said, the one soda that I do like on rare occasions is root beer. There's something about that sweet sassafras-y, herbal-y flavor that takes me back to my childhood, to those carefree, pre-science fair days.
When I saw this recipe for Root Beer Cake I thought it sounded fun and kind of retro. It was also a good excuse to buy some root beer. And some vanilla ice cream for root beer floats. Is there anything more retro than a root beer float?
A couple things about this recipe: root beer extract can be pretty tricky to find. The preferred brand is Zatarain's, but chances are you will have to mail order that. I like to go to NY Cake on 22nd St. for supplies, where they have this root beer flavoring. It's a highly concentrated blend of natural oils, so if you use this or something similar you will need to substitute 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon for 1 teaspoon of extract. Another thing that is hard to find is vegan root beer candy, which is not required for this recipe but would be really cute to use for decoration. I found these root beer hard candies and also the Brach's Root Beer Barrels, both appear to be vegan but you'd probably have to order these online. I didn't go to the trouble. And lastly, please try to buy a natural brand of root beer, meaning one without all that nasty high fructose corn syrup. Your body will thank you for it.
Root Beer Cake (adapted from this recipe)
makes one 9 x 13' cake or approximately 16 cupcakes
2 cups Earth Balance or other vegan butter, plus 1 tsp. to grease pan
2 1⁄2 cups cake flour, plus 1 Tbsp. for dusting cake pan
2 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup root beer
5 tsp. root beer extract (preferably Zatarain's)
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
6 tsp. Egg Replacer mixed with 8 Tbsp. water (equivalent of 4 eggs)
4 1⁄2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tbsp. vegan creamer
1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease and dust with flour either your 9 x 13" cake pan or your cupcake pans.
2. Sift remaining cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
3. Whisk together root beer and 2 tsp. of the root beer extract in a bowl; set aside.
4. Beat sugar and 1 cup of the vegan butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Mix in egg replacer. Alternately add flour mixture and root beer mixture, waiting for each to be incorporated before adding the next. Mix briefly, then transfer batter to pan; smooth out top.
5. Bake, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool.
6. Put confectioners' sugar and remaining butter into a bowl; beat with an electric mixer to combine. Add vegan creamer and remaining root beer extract; beat to make a fluffy frosting. Spread frosting on cake and decorate with root beer candies, if desired.
7. Use leftover root beer to make floats!