by Sarah Hoski
Sauerkraut is a surprisingly delicious (and nutritious!) addition to chocolate cake.
About 2 hours
2 layers of an 8 inch round cake
- 3/4 cup, room temperature
- 1-1/2 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-1/4 cups white flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup sauerkraut, drained and squeezed of excess juice, and very finely grated
- 1/2 cup cocoa nibs (optional)
- 1/2 cup jam of your choice to spread between layers
- 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 1-1/2 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate, grated or cut into small pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans: Rub butter on the inside surfaces, sprinkle with flour and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar together using a whisk or an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating each one until smooth.
- Add vanilla and mix until smooth.
- In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then slowly sift in the butter-sugar-egg mixture, mixing well with a spoon or spatula. Add 1 cup of water, a little while, stirring into a smooth paste.
- Add sauerkraut and cocoa nibs (if using) and stir to combine.
- Pour the cake batter into the two prepared pans.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then stick a toothpick or fork in the center of one of the cakes to see if it comes out clean. If so, remove the cakes from the oven; if not, cook for another 5 minutes.
- Cool cakes on wire rack until cool enough to handle. Then, remove from the baking pans and peel the parchment paper from the bottom of the cakes.
- For glaze, combine balsamic vinegar and sugar in saucepan, whisking together and heating until hot but not boiling. When sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted.
- Place one layer of cake on a serving plate or cake stand, spread jam on it, then place the second layer on top of the jam. Drizzle frosting over top and sides of cake. Enjoy!
Many people seem shocked at the thought of a chocolate cake made with sauerkraut. But it’s quite delicious and moist, and the sauerkraut melts into the sweet cake, just like the grated vegetables in a carrot cake or zucchini bread. The acidity of the kraut is mostly neutralized by the alkaline baking soda, and the reaction between them is part of what makes the cake rise.
I was first served chocolate sauerkraut cake at a wonderful fermentation-themed feast in Amery, Wisconsin, where the dessert was made by pastry chef Leigh Yakaites. Leigh told me that her grandmother, from Fond du Lac, Wis., used to make chocolate and sauerkraut cake when Leigh was young, although “she of course didn’t say children that there was sauerkraut in it until we ate it”.
Leigh didn’t follow a family recipe, but she directed me to one posted online by Canadian food blogger Bernice Hill, on her Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen website. Because I am constitutionally incapable of following a recipe, I have adapted his, and offer this as a guideline for you to adapt further.
Spread jam between layers; I thought marmalade worked particularly well, but any fruity jam would be great. Leigh served it covered in a fantastic chocolate balsamic glaze – her recipe is included. A simple chocolate frosting or whipped cream will also work.
As for the sauerkraut, I recommend simple, plain sauerkraut with no additional ingredients beyond finely shredded cabbage and salt.
Sandor Ellix Katz is a fermentation revivalist and self-taught experimenter who lives in rural Tennessee. His explorations of fermentation developed from his intersecting interests in cooking, nutrition and gardening. He is the author of four previous books: Wild Fermentation, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, The Art of Fermentation, and Fermentation as Metaphor. This excerpt is from Fermentation Journeys of Sandor Katz by Sandor Ellix Katz (Chelsea Green Publishing), available below. www.WildFermentation.com