Posts Tagged ‘Southern Living’


During the last few weeks of my brief relocation to Atlanta, I craved Coca-Cola cake. Not because I saw it on a menu or because somebody mentioned it, but because you can’t travel an entire block in Atlanta without seeing some sort of reminder that it’s the home of Coke, and my mind heads off in unpredictable directions when it gets a prompt.

Atlanta, the home of Coke, leads to Coca-Cola cake. Why not?

I remember eating Coca-Cola cake on a pretty regular basis when I was a kid. It’s pretty easy to throw together, and since you bake it in and serve it from the same pan, the presentation is simple, too.

I’ve had a copy of Classic Cooking with Coca-Cola for years, apparently always meaning to make this cake, but I got very confused when I tried to look up the recipe. I found three recipes for chocolate cakes containing Coke, but none of them called for the 13-by-9-inch pan that I specifically remembered. Online, Southern Living linked to a recipe that called for a good bit more sugar than the one in my book (not that I’m trying to make a low-sugar cake, because LOL low-sugar cake, but I didn’t want a chocolate cake in which the sugar overwhelmed the chocolate). Finally, I flipped through my copy of The Mississippi Cookbook, figuring that the Southern classic would surely hold the recipe I was looking for. I found that the sugar-cocoa ratio in its version was even more unappealing than the one in the online recipe.

Other than the sugar discrepancy, the online recipe’s ingredient list was nearly identical to one of the recipes in Classic Cooking with Coca-Cola, AND the online recipe gave me instructions for baking in a 13-by-9-inch pan instead of a sheet pan, so I figured my baking time would be about the same. And it was.

As I remembered, the cake was at its best the day after I made it. As the icing sits overnight, it hardens into a fudgy topping — not quote a hard coating, but not a soft frosting, either.

Admittedly, this cake was not the ambrosial concoction I remember from my childhood, but it was quite delicious. I think cake, like sandwiches and salads, is simply one of those treats that always taste better when somebody makes them for you.

One regular can of Coke is enough to make the batter and the icing, provided you don’t drink the leftover soda while the cake is baking. I’m not judging, either way. And seeing as I have NEVER purchased a carton of buttermilk, I always have to use the standard substitution: 1 tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup milk. I also understand you can use yogurt or buttermilk powder.

Start making the icing a couple of minutes after the cake comes out of the oven. You’ll want to pour it on top of the cake after the cake has cooled off for about 10 minutes. Also, the original recipe indicated that the pecans in the icing were optional, and pecans are SO not optional for this cake. In fact, I might try to work some pecans into the batter AND the icing next time.

Coca-Cola Cake

  • 2 cups plain unsifted flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 cup Coca-Cola
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl. (Note: I didn’t sift anything because I kind of hate to sift. I had to mash down a few flour pellets in the batter with my stirring spatula, but that was the only consequence.)

In a saucepan, bring the butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola to a boil. Pour this mixture over the flour and sugar and stir until the batter is mixed thoroughly. Stir in the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, vanilla and marshmallows; mix well.

The batter will be extremely thin, and the marshmallows will float to the top. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, and move the floating marshmallows around until they’re spread out reasonably evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. (Note: None of the recipes I consulted tell you how to tell that this cake is done, which was a little scary because the batter is so weirdly thin. The toothpick test worked, though. After 35 minutes, the toothpick came out with a few moist crumbs on it.)

Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then pour the icing on top. It should spread itself out pretty evenly over the cake. Let the iced cake sit for at least an hour to let the icing firm up a little before you cut it, or risk scraping icing run-off out of the bottom of the pan with a spoon (which, really, is not such a terrible thing).

Coca-Cola Icing

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 6 or 7 tbsp. Coca-Cola
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

In a saucepan, heat the butter, Coca-Cola and cocoa until everything is melted and mixed together. Pour over the powdered sugar and mix well. (Note: I broke out the mixer for this.)

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I gave up on finding an authentic, reasonably priced king cake in Huntsville this year. The king cakes at Publix have gone downhill since the days in which the bakery reportedly imported simple, unbaked cakes from Louisiana, baking and decorating them in the days leading up to Mardi Gras. This year, the offerings were filled with cream cheese in various artificial flavors, and I’m tired of bakeries trying to complicate the king cake. It’s SUPPOSED to be relatively simple. By the time you combine a thick, sweet filling with powdered sugar icing AND a heap of colored sugar on top, you’ve got a sickly sweet concoction that in no way resembles a traditional king cake.

Even Earth Fare got in on the act, promising me a king cake complete with apple filling.

No thanks.

After last year’s debacle with frozen bread dough, I decided to simply dedicate an afternoon to the old Southern Living recipe that my mom found some 20 years ago. It had been too long since the husband and I had enjoyed the real thing, and I had volunteered to make a king cake for my co-workers in lieu of suffering through some sort of monstrosity filled with artificially flavored goop.

I’m never convinced that I haven’t added too much flour in my efforts to make the dough manageable. My biggest complaint about this recipe is that it calls for flour by volume rather than weight; measuring flour using the scale is much more accurate than using measuring cups. The cake turned out fine, however, with both the husband and the co-workers giving it rave reviews.

I’d still give somebody $20 to make an acceptable king cake for me, but apparently I’m not going to be able to do that in Huntsville anytime soon.

King Cake

(Adapted from Southern Living)

Makes 2 cakes

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (.25-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • ½ cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • Frosting (see below)
  • Colored sugars (see below)

Cook the first four ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until the butter melts. Cool the mixture to between 100 and 110 degrees.

Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in ½ cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add the butter mixture, eggs and 2 cups flour; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes or until smooth.

Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Stir together ½ cup sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Punch dough down; divide in half. Turn one portion out onto a lightly floured surface; roll to a 28-x-10-inch rectangle.

Spread half each of the cinnamon mixture and the softened butter on the dough. Roll the dough, jellyroll fashion, starting at the long side. Place the dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bring the ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching the edges together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, cinnamon mixture and butter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden. Decorate with bands of frosting, and sprinkle with colored sugars.

Note: This year, I spooned the frosting into a zip-top bag, cut off a corner and squeezed the frosting onto the cake. This gave me a much neater, more even application than I would have gotten by simply drizzling it on the cake. Also, sprinkling the sugar on top will make a HUGE mess. You’re going to want to sprinkle the sugar on the king cake far away from the edge of the countertop or table so you don’t get sugar on the floor. Moisten a couple of dish towels with water and place them on the surface beneath the cake platter (cookie sheet, whatever) that’ll be holding the cake as you sprinkle on the sugar.


  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir together powdered sugar and melted butter. Add milk to reach desired consistency for drizzling; stir in vanilla.

Note: The original recipe advises you to divide the frosting and tint it green, yellow and purple, but since you’re going to coat it with colored sugar anyway, you’ll do just as well to leave it white.

Colored Sugars

  • 1½ cups white sugar, divided
  • 2 drops green food color
  • 2 drops yellow food coloring
  • 2 drops red food color
  • 2 drops blue food coloring

Place ½ cup sugar and green food coloring in a jar or zip-top plastic bag; seal.

Shake vigorously to evenly mix color with sugar. Repeat procedure with ½ cup sugar and yellow food coloring.

For purple, combine red and blue food coloring before adding to remaining ½ cup sugar.

Note: A couple of years ago, I discovered that Wal-Mart made much prettier, more vividly colored sugar than I could. My colored sugar was always paler than the sugar I saw in bakeries, and it was decidedly non-sparkly. You might have to use blue instead of purple, but you’ll live.

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Mardi Gras is approaching, and I’m craving king cake. Although the king cakes at Publix are looking better than they did a couple of weeks ago, I’m tempted to make my own this year. Only the extremely complicated recipe that my mom culled from Southern Living a couple of decades ago takes the better part of a day to make. It also yields two king cakes, a bonus if everyone in the household works in an office, but about 1.5 king cakes too many if one person works at home with a finicky tabby cat.

I may have found my answer over at Southern Plate, where Christy Jordan has made a perfectly presentable king cake using a roll of frozen bread dough. I don’t know that I can abide hot pink sugar on my king cake, and I may skip the cream cheese filling in favor of my usual buttery cinnamon sugar, but other than those two elements, I think Christy may be my inspiration this year.

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