Before opening The Roosevelt in Richmond, Virginia, chef Lee Gregory and co-owner Kendra Feather cracked every Southern cookbook they could find, from Edna Lewis classics to Junior League collections. The goal: to unearth classic recipes they could feature on The Roosevelt's Southern-with-a-twist menu. This Coca-Cola cake is but one of the treasures they discovered. The soda's fizz leavens the cake, giving it a bouncy, tender crumb; a simple cocoa-and-powdered sugar frosting is sweet and chocolaty. Gregory intends to bake the cake with small-batch sodas or even the North Carolina classic Cheerwine. But for now, it's always Coca-Cola.
Recipe adapted from Lee Gregory, The Roosevelt, Richmond, VA
Yield: One 9-inch layer cake (8 to 10 servings)
Cook Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
1½ sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup Coca-Cola
¼ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar
½ cup natural cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup whole milk or heavy cream
1½ cups mini marshmallows (optional)
Chocolate curls or grated chocolate (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Set a 9-inch cake pan on top of a piece of parchment paper. Using the bottom of the cake pan as a guide, trace a circle on the paper with a pen or pencil. Cut out the circle and set aside. Repeat so you have two parchment circles. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease two 9-inch cake pans, then place the parchment circles in the pans. Turn the parchment over so the greased side faces up.
2. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the remaining 1½ sticks of butter with the sugar on medium speed until light and airy, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt and set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk together the Coca-Cola and milk.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter-sugar mixture, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer to low and alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients in three batches, starting and ending with the flour mixture and mixing until just combined. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Place the cake pans in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
4. Remove the cakes from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
5. Make the frosting: In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Turn off the mixer and add the sugar-cocoa mixture, then combine on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and add the vanilla, salt and milk. Mix for 3 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
6. Remove the cooled cakes from the pans, peel off the parchment and place one layer on a serving tray or cake stand. Spoon and spread about one-quarter of the icing on top of the first layer, sprinkle with half of the marshmallows (if using), then top with the second cake layer. Use the rest of the icing to frost the top and sides of the cake (or just frost the top of the cake, as shown) and finish with the remaining marshmallows (if using), then garnish with chocolate curls or grated chocolate (if using).