This has been floating around the old interwebs for a good while now. We’ve been vaguely curious about whether it would work. It has the added benefit of being extremely low on the effort-o-meter.
Huffington Post was kind enough to create this handy dandy mix-and-match soda and cake mix graphic:
The basic premise is that you can take any box of cake mix and replace all the wet ingredients with a can of soda. Pop. Whatever. Someone will be upset no matter what we call it.
Most of the combinations seem legit. The “Purple Cow” looks weird as shit. Skillethead chose the somewhat less oddball “Dark Chocolate Cake Mix + Root Beer = Chocolate Root Beer Float” matchup. The man likes his root beer.
The fact that this mix requires two cups of liquid and three eggs, and that the recipe claims all of this can be replaced with just 12oz of soda, had us a little nervous. We definitely expected it to be a little dry, and of course less rich than the original version.
It seemed to be working ok, as far as creating a reasonable facsimile of batter. It did belch out kind of a gross swamp gas-like froth at first, but when it was completely blended, the appearance definitely improved. It was actually even slightly fluffier than usual, probably due to the carbonation? I guess?
At this point we attempted a preliminary taste-test. For all you people who grew up being told that raw cake batter had eggs in it and therefore you would die wriggling in a pile of your own salmonella-tainted vomit if you ate any, feel free to indulge in this egg-free option. Personally, it never concerned me.
Anyway, the results of this taste test were….disappointing. The combination of chocolate and root beer wasn’t exactly appetizing, at least in batter form. We were holding out hope that it would taste better when it was cooked.
We were feeling ambitious and decided to do a two-layer round cake rather than the usual 9×13. The rounds rose in the oven just like a normal cake, though they did seem to cook faster than we expected, and we were worried we had overcooked it and that it would be dry:
We let it cool for a while, and this is where things began to spiral wildly out of control. Skillethead, who does not enjoy heights, said it reminded him of looking down the spiral staircase from the top of the tower at Hennepin Hopper.
Despite using a CRAPLOAD of butter on the cake pans, these suckers would not be moved. We ran knives around them, we bashed the bottom of the pans with a spatula, we tried heating and cooling them…nothing. Eventually we just shook the shit out of them until they plopped onto the plate in (mostly) one piece. We attempted to glue the remaining chunks together with frosting, but to little avail. The cake just disintegrated further every time either of us touched it.
S: Ok well…uhh
B: What? What could you possibly have to say that will help this situation?
B: It’s an abortion on a plate. It’s ok.
We got as much frosting on it as we could, and then steeled ourselves for the inevitable final taste-test. Attempting to extract a piece of cake from this rapidly disintegrating pile of confectionary disaster was a challenge in itself. Do you remember that scene in Resident Evil where Colin Salmon’s character gets sliced into cubes by a laser and ends up as a pile of human? Yeah.
This was the best we could do:
The flavor hadn’t improved with cooking. We could still detect a tiny bit of root beer flavoring, which, I will reiterate: does not work well with the chocolate. The biggest problem, however, was the texture. We hadn’t actually managed to dry it out, it came out pretty moist. It just doesn’t have any egg to hold it together, so it breaks into pieces like a frigging leper every time you look at it wrong, which makes it damn near impossible to frost. It’s also weirdly chewy; it sort of has the consistency of rubbery angel food cake.
The next day, I consulted with my coworker, who has made this recipe before with Sprite and Funfetti. Her assessment: “Yeah….root beer and chocolate is a weird combination. Also, don’t ever attempt to do this recipe in a round cake pan, it’s a disaster. I make it in a 9×13 and it usually turns out fine. Also, that way, if it falls apart you can just cut it into pieces, slap some berries and whipped cream on it, and call it a trifle.” Guess I should have talked to her first.
S: I don’t even want this right now.
B: It’s like $8 worth of cake shit. I don’t want to waste it.
S: If you quote me, say, “Nope. No one is this fucking redneck.”
Verdict: Might be worth trying a different cake/soda combination, but that’s not going to solve the texture issues. Personally, we’ll just continue to add the eggs, oil, and water, and live to cake another day.