No Via Corona today. But, keep an eye out on Instagram for photographic updates: @tmhostess.
It’s been on my list to try out the following recipe for several years now. I can’t remember how it first crossed my radar, it’s been so long. But recent digging around has me suspecting that I probably read about it on David Lebovitz’s blog. The recipe is in his The Great Book of Chocolate. This handy little reference book was published in 2004 and it wouldn’t surprise me if I read about this cake way back when he was doing press for it. Anyhow, somewhere, at some point I read about David Lebovitz talking about Maida Heatter making a chocolate cake with.
Wait for it.
Part of the reason the idea has stuck with me is, of course, the ick factor. Which with me is generally followed by the desire to try it out (unless it involves fish and dairy…then I just leave it at the ick). At first blush the idea of fermented cabbage (sans the Persian cucumbers) and chocolate sounds about as unpalatable as a tuna casserole.
But, when you think about it, it’s really no more strange than adding zucchini, coconut or carrots (though I’ve been pretty vocal about how I feel about carrots in cake…not a fan). You don’t taste the sauerkraut. It just adds moisture and a little zing. Kind of like buttermilk.
I went searching for an origins story on why anyone would ever think of adding something you most often think of as complementing meat in tube form. I found a variety of recipes including one that, in addition to sauerkraut also included mayonnaise and cherry pie filling. You have to wonder if it was a dare. Alas, no definitive answer on the sauerkraut. Which leaves me wondering if there is a gap in the literature on baked goods origin stories like this or Germans chocolate cake. And should I maybe attempt to fill it? Folklore and Funnel Cake? Jealousy and Jello Molds?
Speaking of ick, I’ve been reading Mary Roach’s most recent book Grunt. I am a huge Mary Roach fan. She’s proof that excellently researched and intellectually sharp science writing is even better when balanced against the occasional fart joke). It’s been a fun, informative and often sober, if not gross, read.
But, as usual, I digress.
You know what isn’t icky? This cake.
Chocolate Sauerkraut Bundt Cake
slightly adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate, David Leibovitz
for the cake
- 2/3 cup sauerkraut
- 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan (if using an articulated bundt pan, you may want to use a starch-laced oil spray like XX. I didn’t and the extra flour was not attractive on the baked cake)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup low-fat milk, cold
For the glaze
- 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Butter a 12-cup Bundt or tube cake pan.
Dump the sauerkraut into a bowl filled halfway with cold water. If you happen to accidentally buy the kind from Trader Joes with persian cucumbers (like I did), now is the time to pick them out.
- Toss the sauerkraut with your finger tips a few times then drain it, pressing the sauerkraut to remove most of the water. Dump the drained sauerkraut on a cutting board and finely chop it with a chef’s knife or in a food processor.
- Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla until combined. Slowly dribble the egg mixture into the butter mixture while beating.
- Gently stir 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix just until combined, then stir in 1/2 the milk and stir just until combined. Alternate dry and then wet, mixing between each step until just combined.
- Add the chopped sauerkraut and stir again.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then invert the cake onto a serving plate.
- To make the chocolate glaze, heat the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a small pan over low heat, stirring almost constantly, until melted and smooth.
- Let stand until room temperature.
- Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to dribble down the sides.