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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake ...and a Cookbook Review: Maida Heatter's Cakes

No.  You can't taste the sauerkraut.  You know you were wondering.

Call me strange, but I have always wanted to try a Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake.  I've seen it in photos...I've read of it in print...It's one of those legendary foods.  In my mind, at least.  I have always heard good things about it.  It's incredibly moist.  It's so-and-so's favorite type of chocolate cake.  Susie and Fifi's grandmothers have both made it every year for as long as they can remember.  

When I happened upon a recipe for it from "the Queen of Desserts", I figured  now was as good a time as any to give it a try.  I'm gonna tell ya...I'm glad that I did.  It's everything the legend foretold.  And more.  Moist.  Chocolatey.  Rich.  Delicious.  And this recipe in particular, at least is big and me the largest, most satisfying layers that I, personally, have ever accomplished in a cake.  And I did keep the sauerkraut a secret until every body ate a slice.  Nobody knew.  Nobody gagged mid-bite because they tasted fermented cabbage.  And every single person did a triple take when I announced the secret ingredient.  This cake will forever be in my will the frosting (for this and other cakes).
Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake
from Maida Heatter's Cakes
yield: 10-12 portions

⅔ c. drained sauerkraut, firmly packed
2¼ c. sifted all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ c. Dutch-process cocoa powder
5⅓ oz. (10⅔ Tbs.) unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 c. strong coffee

1 lb. milk chocolate
1 c. sour cream
make the cake: Put your oven racks in the middle position and preheat oven to 350° F.  Butter two 9" (I used 8") round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper cut to fit, then butter paper and dust all over with fine, dry bread crumbs I used cocoa powder and tap out excess.  Set aside.

Place sauerkraut in a large bowl, add cold water to cover, and with your hands work the water all through the sauerkraut to rinse it lightly, drain in a strainer, and then squeeze the sauerkraut a bit in your hands to remove most of the water that remains (but don't overdo it or you will make the cake dry).  It is okay if the sauerkraut still smells like sauerkraut--the cake won't smell or taste like it once it is cooked.  Honest.

Chop the sauerkraut until it is pretty fine.  Set aside. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa together and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter until soft.  Beat in vanilla and sugar, then eggs one at a time.  On low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the coffee in two additions.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in sauerkraut with spoon or rubber scraper.

Place half of the mixture in each of the prepared pans and smooth the tops.

Bake for ~30 (mine took 25) minutes, until tops of cakes just barely spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip.  Do NOT over bake.  Let layers stand in pan for a few minutes, then remove and turn them back right side up and cool completely on wire racks. 
make the icing: Break up the chocolate and place in top of a double boiler.  Let it melt a bit, stirring from time to time until completely melted and smooth.  Add the sour cream and beat until smooth.  Use immediately.  This stuff completely and totally rocks!  It's thick and tangy and chocolatey and fabulous.  Just thought I should let you know.

To ice the cake, place four (10" x 3") strips of parchment paper in a square around the sides of a large cake plate.  Place one cake layer on the plate upside down and check to be sure it is touching the papers all around (use a turntable, if you have one).

Spread about one-third of the icing over the layer on the plate.  Cover the frosted layer with the other layer, right side up (bottoms together in the middle).  Pour remaining icing over cake and smooth it over the top and around the sides with a thin metal spatula.  Remove paper strips.

Refrigerate and serve cold.  We actually ate a few slices was too tempting not to.  So. Stinkin'. Good.  I liked it both warm and cold.
I cannot argue the fact that Maida Heatter is the "Queen of Desserts".  I adored  Maida Heatter's Cakes as much as I adored Maida Heatter's Cookies.  This book is a compilation of 175 of the most beloved cake recipes that have appeared in her previous books.  I can think of nobody's advice I'd trust more on Ingredients, Equipment, and Techniques...and that's exactly what you'll find in the chapter on Cake-Making Basics that kicks off this informative, delicious book.  Maida's advice.  Then you'll move on to one of the other chapters such as Plain Cakes, Chocolate Cakes, Layer Cakes, Fancy Cakes, Cheesecakes, Fruitcakes and Nutcakes, Cakes with Fruits or Vegetables, Yeast Cakes, Sweet Breads, Muffins, Cupcakes, and Tassies, Gingerbreads, or Ice Cream, Sauces, and More to put her advice to good use.  She was also thoughtful enough to put Metric Conversions and Equivalents in (for those of us who are metric-ly me...but I'm getting better!).  This will become a bible for me around birthdays and potlucks, along with "the cookie one".  If you have this book in your possession, you'll never run out of cake ideas.  If anything, you'll have too many.

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Ohhh man, this makes me want to get me some espresso right now!!

  2. what about the texture? Was there a saurkraut texture to it? I am super intrigued!

  3. I am slightly embarrassed to say that I have never heard of this phenomenon but it looks really delicious so I am very intrigued ....

  4. very interesting idea. do you know where it came from (using sauerkraut, i mean)?

    way to try something new :)

  5. Que pastel de chocolate tan impresionante, te ha quedado de 10.


  6. Such a gorgeous cake. I have been wanting to try a sauerkraut cake and now I want to even more after seeing yours. I need to get this book opened up and cooked from soon. ;-)

  7. This is a gorgeous cake...the texture also looks super good.

  8. Wow wat a stunning and gorgeous cake,feel like having a slice...

  9. Sauerkraut? Wowsers!

    It looks absolutely delicious, well done :)

    I've been meaning to try a chocolate cake with avocado as the secret ingredient!

  10. Love that rich and exotic cake! The chocolaty frosting with the sour cream rocks. Can I get a bite..Girlie :)

  11. far as texture goes, the cake itself is moist and fudge-y...the sauerkraut, though barely noticeable in texture, is kind of like flaked coconut if I had to describe it in some way.

    Yasmeen...You know what's strange? I have not been able to find the ORIGINS of the Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake!! I am dying to know, though...and will keep looking and update if I find it. IF ANYBODY IS FAMILIAR WITH THE ORIGINS OF CHOCOLATE SAUERKRAUT CAKE...PLEASE ENLIGHTEN US! =)

  12. Intriguing, indeed! It looks delicious!

  13. Who would have thought of a sauerkraut cake?!?!? Looks devine! Thanks for linking up to the Iron Chef Challenge.

  14. I have known about this cake forever as I have German heritage firmly planted. We use to have a crock of kraut in the house when I was a kid, and although my Mom never made this cake, my Dad had eaten it before. My first guess is, the origins of this cake was like so many others of the time, use what you have, and make it the best you can. I do want to make this cake!

  15. I made the www version of this frosting and less butter...but still fantastic. It's on my blog. :) yours looks decadent!! I could just scoop up that frosting! YUM!

  16. I can't believe there's sauerkraut. I will have to try this. I understand why it would work, but you're absolutely right not to have told anyone in advance. I have a good mayonnaise cake, and I often use Greek yogurt in my chocolate cakes... but sauerkraut! Your post makes it sound great!

  17. Oh snap! I might have to give this a whirl. What a simple frosting.

  18. Wow this cake looks perfect. If I had a slice right now I would be in heaven. I'm going to have to make it for the sauerkraut factor alone. ;)

  19. I always wondered what this cake tasted like. I assumed you couldn't taste the sauerkraut, but it's nice to know you really can't, lol. Looks chocolatey and delicious!

  20. This is the kind of cake I know I would love. Very interesting and I love the coffee addition! Thanks for sharing, it reminds me that my mom has mentioned saurkraut cake a few times in the past.

  21. I love so many of your recipes but I will be honest, when I read the words chocolate AND sauerkraut my first thought was…..Those two DO Not belong together! But I bow to your wisdom and creativity in the kitchen, woman! Nice review

  22. Never heard of a chocolate sauerkraut cake before but I sure do have a craving for a piece of it. Looks fabulous!

  23. This is definitely one of those cakes with wow factor. One that makes people's jaws drop when you tell them what's in it. I love cakes like that. Looks delicious!

  24. Very intriguing- the fudgy- moist chocolaty texture with that glossy shiny frosting is too good!!

    US Masala

  25. I have a "lost recipes" cookbook that includes a recipe for sauerkraut cake and it has always intrigued me, but I hadn't gotten around to trying it. I will have to do it now. Your frosting sounds delicious too. So simple, but great flavors.

  26. Ok, those are two words I never thought I would see together, chocolate and sauerkraut. It does look and sound moist and delicious though, alright, I'll try a piece. :-)


  27. ok, I've never heard of sauerkraut cake before but then I'd never heard of black beans brownies either and those are supposed to be really yummy.
    I'll have to be brave and give it a try.

  28. Sauerkraut in cake, looks delicious though.Love the odd combination of chocolate with them.

  29. I am so very curious how this tastes that I am going to make it tonight!

  30. i love that you made this, what an adventurous cake, and it sounds like it was a total win!

  31. it looks good, but just thinking that it has sauerkraut just makes me curious..

  32. I did the same thing, I didn't tell anybody about the sauerkraut until they were fighting over the last piece! This looks wonderful!

  33. The cake looks amazing! I'll have to check out some of Maida Heatter's recipes.

  34. new to me but looks yummy! Love the icing!

  35. Heather, that cakes looks so delicious!

    I received one more tag game and it is about Easter Menu..I tagged you and I hope that you will find time to participate!
    Visit my blog for more info!! thanks!

  36. I have never even heard of chocolate sauerkraut cake before, or any cake with sauerkraut...very intriguing ingredient. Does look incredibly moist :)

  37. I've heard of chocolate sauerkraut cake before and yours just looks amazingly good, so moist and chocolaty. I don't think anyone would guess the secret ingredient in this. I have a sweet treat linky party on my blog every weekend and I'd like to invite you to stop by then and link your cake up.

  38. Hi Heather,
    I want a slice of that cake so much! It looks so moist and rich, I know I am going to just love it, oh of course I am so making it, next week. I will sure take your recommendation and have a warm piece and a cold piece. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you next week! Have a very special week end!

  39. I've seen other chocolate sauerkraut cakes before and they all say the same thing. I'm going to have to try it. I guess it's kind of like adding zucchini to chocolate cake as well- makes it moist without tasting like veggies.

    Frosting looks perfect too.