Bubbles.  That’s what makes cakes rise.  To be specific, they’re carbon dioxide bubbles.

Leaveners like baking soda and baking powder use a chemical reaction to create bubbles.  When an acid and base come together with water, they fizz and bubble.  (But you remember that from your high school chemistry days.)   Baking powder has both a base and an acid and only needs water.  Baking soda is only a base and needs an acid like sour cream or buttermilk to react.

But along comes soda pop, all fizzy and full of bubbles, carbon dioxide bubbles.  That’s why they call it carbonation.  It can work also as a leavener to make your cakes lighter and full of bubbles.  So you can add soda pop for all or part of the baking powder or baking soda.  It makes a great cake.  And it’s fun.

Root Beer (or Cola) Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Butter Frosting

This was our first soda pop cake.  We were looking for something different to take to an extended family birthday party.  We took an existing recipe and traded soda pop for leavening, root beer in this case.  And of course, we used the root beer for the liquid.  It took us three tries but it worked and made a grand cake.  The cake got thumbs up—from the youngest to oldest.

Root Beer Chocolate Cake Recipe

This interesting cake has just a touch of root beer flavor but it comes out light and moist. Be sure to use root beer with sugar in it, not sugar-free.  You can use cola instead of root beer if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon root beer flavor
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 12-ounce can root beer, not sugar-free

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and dust with flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

  1. Cream the shortening and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Beat for five or six minutes so that the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the root beer flavor.
  2. In another bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, salt, and soda together.
  3. In three or four additions, alternately add the dry ingredients and the liquids to the creamed mixture starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix only until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool completely before frosting with the frosting of your choice.

Baker’s Note: When making a cake such as this, you are mixing oil (shortening) and water (soda pop and buttermilk)—which don’t mix. The egg yolks act as an emulsifier, a bonding agent between the oil and water molecules and the flour absorbs much of the water. That is why you start with the flour addition—so that the water doesn’t overload the fat mixture before the flour is there to start absorbing water. It’s also why you add the liquids in stages between the flour additions.

Chocolate Butter Frosting

While we used this frosting on our root beer cake, it’s a simple frosting that works well on any cake.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • about 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Additional milk as required

Directions

  1. Cream the butter. Add half the powdered sugar and two tablespoons milk.
  2. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar, beating as you go.
  3. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate. Add more milk as required to reach a spreadable consistency.

Root Beer (or 7-Up) Spice Cake Recipe

This interesting cake has just a touch of root beer flavor but it comes out light and moist. Be sure to use root beer with sugar in it, not sugar-free.   If you prefer, you can use 7-Up® or other lemon lime soda in place of root beer.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon root beer flavor or lemon flavor depending on the pop you use
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 12-ounce can root beer, not sugar-free

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and dust with flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

  1. Cream the shortening and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Beat for five or six minutes so that the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the flavor.
  2. In another bowl, mix the flour, spices, salt, and soda together.
  3. In three or four additions, add the dry ingredients and the liquids to the creamed mixture alternately starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix only until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool completely before frosting with the frosting of your choice.

Root Beer Butter Frosting

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • about 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons root beer flavor
  • Additional water as required
  1. Cream the butter.
  2. Add half the powdered sugar and two tablespoons water.
  3. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar, beating as you go.
  4. Add the nutmeg, root beer flavor, and more water as required to reach a spreadable consistency.

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