I was recently watching a documentary on the history of the Coca-Cola company and it got me thinking about whether I could use Coke in baking. I’ve used sodas, like root beer, before in barbecue sauces, but would the flavor of the soda come through in a cake or other baked good? I didn’t have to wonder for long because it turns out that there are lots of recipes that use Coca-Cola right on the company’s website, including a recipe for a Cola Cake (pdf).
The cake uses Coke in both the cake and the glaze that covers it, and it was almost exactly what I had in mind for a recipe that used coke, since it used quite a bit of soda. It’s a chocolate sheet cake topped with a Coke-infused glaze and lots of crunchy pecans. Now, I said “almost exactly” because I made some changes to this recipe right off the bat. I reduced the amount of butter called for slightly, used less cocoa powder to make sure the Coke flavor came out and added a bit of salt to contrast the sugars in the cake. The result was really delicious, so I am confident in saying that Coke works out well as an addition to some baked goods!
I like that this cake is baked and served in the same dish because it’s easy and unfussy to do so. This is especially true because the glaze is poured on while the cake is hot, so you don’t need any frosting for it. The cake is very, very moist and very soft. It has a nice chocolate flavor to it and you can just get a hint of the spicy flavor of the Coke through it. This is helped along by a butter and Coca-Cola glaze that is poured over the cake just as it comes out of the oven. Pecans are used in the topping to add crunch to the cake, and they’re slightly candied by the butter-Coke mixture before they make it on to the cake. One great finishing touch is to make sure to use toasted, salted pecans for the topping. That extra salt really makes for the perfect contrast and just might make this cake as popular as the soda featured in it!
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup Coca-Cola
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1/4 cup butter
6 tbsp Coca-Cola
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/4 cup roasted and salted pecans, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
In a medium-sized, microwave safe bowl, butter. Whisk cocoa powder in to hot butter. When smooth, stir in Coca-Cola. Allow to cool. Whisk in eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Pour into flour mixture and stir until well combined and no streaks of flour remain. Stir in mini marshmallows.
Pour into prepared pan. Marshmallows may float to the top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly pressed.
While cake bakes, prepare the glaze. Combine butter, Coke and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Whisk in confectioners sugar until smooth, then stir in the pecans. Pour glaze all over cake when it comes out of the oven.
Allow cake to cool before slicing.
Makes 24 servings.
LindaJanuary 22, 2010
The South has made Coke cakes for years but most of them are so sweet and chocolate they lose the Coke ingredient and it’s merely a moist chocolate cake. This one inspires me to try it for that obvious Coke note of flavor. I need a recipe that is relatively quick and easy to take to my librarians tomorrow or Sunday–this one might be the ticket! Thanks!!
sugar plum fairyJanuary 22, 2010
Oh Nicole ,this sounds so good truly……
MaryMohJanuary 23, 2010
Oh my gosh….with coca cola! Looks moist and delicious. I have to make this. Thanks for sharing.
MelissaJanuary 24, 2010
can i use diet or coke zero or should i stick with regular?
NicoleJanuary 24, 2010
Melissa – I would stick with regular. It tastes better (generally speaking) and you’re not really going to save any calories when you break it down by slice. It is well worth using regular, and you only need about a can for the whole recipe.
justJENNJanuary 24, 2010
French toast with Coke? Noooo!
LinCJanuary 25, 2010
That’s a great old recipe, probably from the 1950’s. The topping is almost like fudge. Which is why I prefer to use walnuts in the topping. In the walnut version, you throw the nuts right into the pan and cook them with the butter and Coke.
One warning — do NOT try to use diet cola in this recipe. It does not work.
RituparnaJanuary 26, 2010
Hey ! Love the look of the cake and am deffinately going to make it.
You can also make a cake using mirinda/fanta. Use milkmaid, it’s yummy ……..
LindaJanuary 29, 2010
Baking the cake for the last 5 minutes as I write this comment. Smells wonderful. Glaze tastes amazing. My marshmallows did float and centered in the cake. I wouldn’t mind the floating if they didn’t all end up in the same area. Did I miss something to avoid that? Does it help, like with nuts and chips, to coat them lightly in flour or cocoa before adding them to the batter to keep them from floating (or sinking as in chips)?
KrisFebruary 3, 2010
I made this with Dr. Pepper instead. I was a bit worried about the high volume of sugar in this, so I subbed dark chocolate cocoa powder instead of regular.
It turned out really tasty!
MERFFebruary 4, 2010
I’ve made this cake before and it is awesome! My father-in-law loves chocolate but his preferred soda is Root Beer. I’m making the cake for him this weekend using Root Beer instead of coke. Wish me luck!
Bruce ArthursFebruary 17, 2010
The Coca-Cola Cake definitely dates at least to the 1950’s. Somewhere in a box out in the garage, I have a collected-recipes booklet from one of the first Pillsbury Bake-Offs (about 1955, IIRC), and Coca-Cola Cake was one of the entries.
KateFebruary 6, 2011
There is a reason your marshmallows are floating to the top when they shouldn’t – they should blend. The trick?
The original Atlanta Junior League recipe specifically brings the butter, oil, cocoa and coca cola to a boil which is then immediately poured over the marshmallows, sugar and flour dissolving the marshmallows. So don’t cool your ingredients – it changes the flavor of the cake.
Secondly make sure that when you dissolve the baking soda into the buttermilk that you then incorporate it into the batter immediately.
The reason is, when baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient (e.g., yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, honey), the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise. The reaction begins immediately upon mixing the ingredients, so you need to bake recipes which call for baking soda immediately, or else they will fall flat!
JenieceMay 22, 2013
Cake was super moist and delicious with the pecans on top! I had the similar problem with my marshmallows moving into the middle of the cake but I quite liked the outside pieces without the marshmallows too so I’ll probably omit them next time. Very easy recipe and definitely a crowd pleaser!
ReenaJuly 12, 2013
I have 2 doubts. I have seen recipes with self raising flour so can I use the same? I have some s.r flour that needs go be used. And the cola company recipe uses 1/2 cup oil and same amount of margarine. Can I do the same and how will it affect the texture . Reena
NicoleJuly 12, 2013
Reena – If you use self rising flour, you can omit the baking soda from the recipe. I found that the combination of oil and margarine was too greasy and the cake was very moist and tender with less fat in it. I used butter because it brought a better flavor to the cake.