I’m not much of a soda drinker, but sometimes I enjoy a little fizz. I am a chocolate fiend though, so when I saw this picture of devout carbonated beverage connoisseur Zac Hanson with his Dr. Pepper I started thinking about how to combine the two into the perfect soda-drinker’s dessert.
There’s a common, quick recipe floating around Pinterest that you can take any 12oz. soda (or pop, or Coke, or whatever you call it in your region of the world) and add it to a box cake mix to make a cake. No egg, no butter, nothing else.
I experimented with this when I brought Irn Bru back from Scotland a couple of years ago. The cake baked up nicely, but didn’t have much of the soda flavor. For the Dr. Pepper Cake I wanted something a little more substantial, so I went with a recipe I found that included buttermilk. It just sounded more Southern and hearty.
I also wanted to do it as a Bundt cake, because they’re beautiful and so much easier than making a bunch of cupcakes, which seems to be more common for the recipes I found. This recipe worked just fine in the Bundt pan though. Just add 10 minutes or so to the baking time and test with a toothpick to make sure it’s done in the middle.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup Dr. Pepper
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 6 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 tbsp Dr. Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare muffins tin by adding cupcake cup liners (22-24 total). For Bundt pan, grease and flour or spray with non-stick coating.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and coca powder. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer + large bowl), add in butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on low until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Keeping mixer speed on low, add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
- Mix in the Dr. Pepper. Add the other half of the dry ingredients as well as the buttermilk. Mix until just combined - try not to overmix. Batter should be thick and fluffy.
- Pour cupcake batter into prepared muffin tin, filling cups 2/3 full.
- Bake cupcakes (in batches of 12 or so) for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. For Bundt, bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
- Place on a wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to finish cooling on the wire rack.
- Wait until completely cooled before applying the frosting.
- Use a stand mixer (or a hand mixer + large bowl) on high speed to beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy, roughly 2 minutes.
- Drop speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Frosting may be and clumpy at this stage - that is okay.
- Keeping speed on low, slowly beat in cream cheese. I'd recommend cutting the cream cheese into 4-5 pieces and mixing in one piece at a time.
- Finally, add in the Dr. Pepper. This frosting is very forgiving and easy to balance to your tastes. You can add up to 6 tablespoons of Dr. Pepper (total) or up to 5 cups of powdered sugar (total) to get the flavor and consistency you'd like.
- Decorate as desired.
Some recipes call for a chocolate frosting, but I was afraid that might be too much for my co-workers to handle. (They’re such beginners when it comes to sweets.)
Instead, I made a Dr. Pepper Cream Cheese Frosting, where you replace the usual milk with Dr. Pepper. I kept that in the fridge overnight and set it out next to the cake so people had the option to add it or not. (Seriously, I work with some finicky people who really like to regulate their sugar intake.)
The cake came out nice and moist with a good flavor, although most people said they wouldn’t have guessed that it was made with Dr. Pepper if I hadn’t told them. The frosting, however, had a strong soda flavor, so it was a nice addition to the cake. You could probably throw some cherries into the cake batter if you really want to play up the flavor, or serve them on the side as a garnish.
Eat a piece of cake. It just means more to love.