Traditional Coca-Cola cake, a staple of the American South, usually comes in the form of a chocolate sheet cake that's doused in a gooey glaze. The batter is splashed with a bit of cola, sometimes for flavor but mostly for fluff; the soda's carbonation acts as a leavening agent, similar to baking soda or baking powder, helping the cake rise and come out light and airy. In her modern-day version, cookbook author Vallery Lomas flips tradition on its head by making a cola-flavored cake with cola-flavored icing. The key to Lomas' Cocoa Cola Bundt Cake is in the Coca-Cola syrup. Lomas concentrates the cola by reducing it with sugar and adding a bit of lemon juice, and then she mixes the resulting syrup into both the cake and the icing. "You get a more concentrated taste by using the syrup instead of straight-from-the-can Coca-Cola," Lomas says. Plus, the warming spices Lomas adds into the cake, like cinnamon and nutmeg, along with a dash of both orange and lemon zest, deepen the cake's chocolaty, cola-y flavor. Lomas takes her new-age cake one step further by baking it in a Bundt pan instead of a sheet pan. "It's just as easy but much more centerpiece- worthy." Although this cake could be paired with a glass of ice-cold Coca-Cola, Lomas recommends balancing the cake's sweetness with something warm and a bit bitter, like your favorite coffee or tea.

December 2021 / January 2022

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Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Recipe Summary test

active:
45 mins
total:
3 hrs 30 mins
Servings:
8
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Ingredients

Cola Syrup
Cake
Glaze
Additional Ingredients

Directions

Make the cola syrup:
  • Bring cola and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 cup, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Reserve 1/4 cup cola syrup in a liquid measuring cup for glaze.

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Make the cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with baking spray. Stir butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar into remaining 3/4 cup cola syrup in saucepan. Cook over medium-low, stirring often, until butter is melted and sugars are dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool 5 minutes.

  • Whisk together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and egg yolks, buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla, and zests in a medium bowl; gradually whisk in slightly cooled syrup mixture until well combined. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add egg mixture, stirring until well combined. Spoon batter into prepared Bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack, and let cool completely, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Make the glaze:
  • Whisk together powdered sugar, melted butter, cocoa, and reserved 1/4 cup cola syrup in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in milk until creamy, pourable, and smooth.

  • Place cake on a plate. Pour glaze over cake. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Serve with whipped cream and cherries, if desired.

Tips

Find amarena cherries at specialty stores or online at williams-sonoma.com.

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