Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

Sauerkraut in bread is one thing, but sauerkraut in cake?  Once again my curiosity kicked in full force and put up a good fight.  I don't remember when or where I first saw a chocolate sauerkraut cake recipe, but the concept has been nagging me ever since.  I told you not to raise your eyebrows yesterday, but I give you full permission to do so today.

So, with eyebrows raised, let's begin.  The theory behind the cake is that the sauerkraut adds moisture, much like the respective vegetables in a carrot cake or zucchini cake.  The sauerkraut is rinsed before it's added to the batter so as to remove most of the sour, fermented flavor.  It's also chopped finely to avoid any stringy surprises.  Of all the recipes and reviews I read (and there were many), most tasters could not detect the sauerkraut.  If noticed at all they picked up on texture and thought it was shreds of coconut.   Of course I still had to try it out for myself, though in my defense I did forgo the cake recipe calling for sauerkraut, mayonnaise and cherry coke.

Nearly all the sauerkraut cake recipes use so much butter and sugar it's no wonder you can't detect the fermented shreds.  In the end, I found one recipe that used oil and dark cocoa and decided to go with that.  To make a long story a tiny bit shorter I was using the cake as the base of another recipe and needed a lighter cake as opposed to a rich, dense chocolate cake.

Oh, and you can lower your eyebrows now, otherwise your forehead will get those permanently etched squinty lines.  I couldn't pick up on sauerkraut per se, but the cake did have a slight off-flavor.  I don't think I rinsed the sauerkraut quite long enough.  In my opinion the dark cocoa didn't help matters here.  Dutch-processed (dark) cocoa is less acidic than regular cocoa, giving it a different flavor in addition to color.  Were I to make it again I'd try a recipe featuring regular baking cocoa.  Frosting is highly recommended over powdered sugar and happened shortly after these pictures.  In all fairness, sauerkraut cake deserves another shot before I rule it out.  However, I'd rather just use sauerkraut in Caraway Rye Bread instead of sneaking it into cake.

Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake
adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cornstarch
6 Tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp drained, rinsed, and squeezed dry sauerkraut
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp coffee, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
* In a large bowl whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
* In a food processor combine sauerkraut and chocolate chips.  Pulse until sauerkraut is finely chopped. Continue pulsing while slowly adding coffee, a few tablespoons at a time.
* To the dry ingredients stir in eggs, oil and vanilla. Slowly beat in sauerkraut mixture to form a smooth batter.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool before sprinkling with powdered sugar or frosting of choice.

Food for Thought: "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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