Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rootbeer Birthday Cake

As I mentioned in my “Welcome” post, I have made a Root Beer Cake.  I knew this was what my son wanted but it seemed his birthday came up way too quickly and I was caught off guard.  A day or two before his birthday, I was hunting down what I needed to do to make such a cake and what I needed to get it done and I still really had no idea what I was going to do. 

I finally settled on using this recipe for inspiration:  Root Beer Float Cake II  I had already picked up a white cake mix in anticipation of making this cake so that is the main reason I settled on this one. 

As I read through the comments that were left by users, I spotted an incredible idea!  After the cake has baked, poke holes in the cake and drizzle a root beer glaze over the entire cake so that it falls down into the holes.  All of a sudden the uncertainty as to how I was going to make this cake disappeared.  I would make the cake as the recipe indicates but add some root beer flavor to enhance the root beer-y-ness of the cake.  As a super-duper bonus, poke this cake and add the root beer glaze because who doesn’t love sugary goodness dripped down into their cake?  Then, for the frosting, I would use a white frosting recipe that I love from King Arthur and enhance it with the root beer flavoring that I used in the cake. 

Viola!  The cake that I have been so unsure of was coming together in my head.  It didn’t quite live up to the expectations that I had for it but all in all, it was decent enough.  It was still cake after all and there are few cakes that I have not found worth eating!

Root Beer Cake
Adapted from:  Root Beer Float Cake II

1 box white cake mix
1-1/4 cups root beer
1/4 cup safflower oil
2 whole eggs
1/2 tsp. Lorann Oils Root Beer Flavoring

Mix the cake mix with root beer, oil and eggs as directed on the back of the box.  Bake the cake as directed on the back of the box.

Root Beer Glaze
Adapted from the comments at: Root Beer Float Cake II

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup root beer

Whisk root beer and sugar together.  Add more root beer if needed to get a good consistency.  You do not want it too runny but also do not want it so think that it will not pour out and fall into the holes in the cake.

Root Beer Frosting
Adapted from:  Easy Buttercream from The King Arthur Baking Companion

5-1/3  tbsp butter
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/8 tsp salt
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 to 1/3 cup root beer

Beat butter, shortening and salt together in large bowl until combined.  Beat in about half of the powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add vanilla and half of the root beer and mix until combined.  Mix in remaining powdered sugar until combined and then add root beer by little bits and beat until you get desired consistency which should be fluffy and spreadable. 

Putting the cake together:

After cake has cooled, poke rows of holes about a ½ to 1 inch apart.  This doesn’t have to be fancy, just consistently spaced apart. 

Evenly pour the glaze over the entire cake so that it falls down into the holes.  Use an offset spatula if necessary to help the glaze along its way.

Top cake with frosting being carful as the top of the cake will be moist if you frost it right after the glaze step.  You don’t want it to start to crumble and get all kinds of crumbs into your frosting.  Well, you might want that to happen…who am I to say?  It will still taste just as yummy, that’s for sure!

I decorated the cake with root beer barrels.  I had also considered getting the Haribo gummy cola bottles to decorate with but as I unfolded my plan to my son, he suggested root beer barrels so that’s what I did.  I also picked up some glitter glaze to decorate the cake with.


As you can see, the cake is not fancy by any means.  I am not a huge fan of making cakes.  Let me correct that, I do like to make cake because I like to eat cake…very much.  I just don’t like all the tediousness of making them look amazing.  I don’t have the ability or patience to do so.  Just as I said the crumbs won’t do anything to the taste of the cake if you happen to get some in your frosting, a plain and very homemade looking cake will still taste just as good as one looks like it came out of a bakery.

The Good:  I used a few “better-for-you” ingredients.  The eggs come from a farm that is near my home.  The chickens run free around the farm so while I am not completely sure that they are organic because I do not know what the farmer feeds them, they are definitely free range.  I used fats that were non-hydrogenated and that were also non-solvent expressed.  I recently ran across the subject of solvent pressed oils and it kind of bothered me a bit. 

The Bad:  Cake mix with lots of ingredients that are not found in cakes you make from scratch.  Root beer with high fructose corn syrup.  Artificial root beer flavoring.  Lots of sugar.  Butter that is not organic or made from grass fed dairy.  I have not yet been able to bring myself to justify the price of that…yet.   Perhaps it will come down the line but for now, I am all right with regular butter.  The glitter glaze was a last minute purchase for the cake and I knew nothing glittery was going to be natural but bought it anyway.


Conclusion:  This was a once-in-a-while type of recipe.  I will not make this again for a very long time so with how often we will be eating it, I feel like the “bad” things are not that “bad”.  If I made this on a regular basis I would certainly take into consideration the cake mix, root beer, flavoring and butter.  For Simon’s birthday though, we enjoyed it…mystery ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, glitter glaze and all!!    

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