Coca-Cola Cake

Apple pie has long been the embodiment of Americana. Except, well... I'm not a huge fan of fruit pies. And I don't make good pie crust. So, when I decided to make a dessert for last night's family Fourth cookout, I decided to seek inspiration elsewhere.

Nothing's more American (and, for that matter, Southern) than Coca-Cola, right?

So, I decided to make a Coca-Cola cake. I'd heard many times that it was a classic recipe of my late great-aunt's, but I'd never actually sampled it. So, I tried a recipe from Southern Living, which is, of course, the bible for such things. The cake turned out well, if a little gooey and indulgent. I'm always fascinated to try recipes from bygone eras. Boiled frosting and mini-marshmallows are such a throwback to Sixties cookery. I'd never used either before. Nor had I cooked with soda. But, the result was really fun and, I have to say, delicious.

Aunt Ree and Uncle Ed with my father and my aunt

It was also really nice to hear comparisons to my Great-Aunt Marie's cooking; she was such a wonderful, gracious, vibrant lady. She and my Great-Uncle Ed lived on the Atlantic Coast of Florida in the Eighties and Nineties. They spent their summers here in Kentucky; we were always so excited when they would arrive, bringing them, their curiously Florida-bright polyester ensembles, their ubiquitous chihuahua, and a van-load of presents for us kids. Now that we're all adults, my brother and cousin frequently joke that I've become the Aunt Ree of our generation whenever I don a particularly loud Lilly Pulitzer dress, adopt yet another dog, or wear one of her vintage brooches. I sure hope they're right. At least I know that I have one of Aunt Ree's signature recipes down pat.

Coca-Cola Cake, via August 2002 Southern Living


1 cup Coca-Cola

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Coca-Cola Frosting

Garnish: 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted


Combine Coca-Cola and buttermilk; set aside.

Beat butter at low speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beat until blended. Add egg and vanilla; beat at low speed until blended.

Combine flour, cocoa, and soda. Add to butter mixture alternately with cola mixture; begin and end with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended.

Stir in marshmallows. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes. Pour Coca-Cola Frosting over warm cake; garnish, if desired.

Note: Don't make the frosting ahead--you need to pour it over the cake shortly after baking.

Coca-Cola Frosting


1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/3 cup Coca-Cola

3 tablespoons cocoa (I used dark chocolate cocoa here.)

1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar and vanilla.

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