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It's not a new idea, or a revolutionary one, but I do think it's one of those things that crops up ever few years, and everyone who hasn't tried it goes out and does, and it gets talked about, and then the hubbub dies down. There are lots of recipes dating quite a way back that involve cooking with soda (or pop, if you prefer) as seen in The Gallery of Regrettable Food (and shown in my pancake experiment from that book), but for some reason it's only the cake one that keeps popping back up. And maybe the one about steak, I have heard people talk about marinating steak in Coke, but I've never tried it.
Of course, when it came up in a community I watch, I tried it. And I did learn something important, something that seems counter-intuitive to making something with a carbonated beverage: you really, really, really need to mix it well. Or else...
Oh, sure, they look like innocent little cracks. But try to take a knife to the cake, or, heaven forbid, get it out of the pan?
I think no matter how careful you are, in the end, if you don't stir the batter well enough, you're left with:
I did re-try the experiment and let the cake mix and mix, and it came out just fine. I don't have a picture of it, because it looked like... cake. Ordinary, regular cake. So why use soda? Well, some people like to use diet soda because it does reduce the calories and fat (because although the cake mix has sugar, you're cutting out the oil and eggs). If you're worried about cooking with fake sugar, you could try it with club soda, though I don't know if that would work (hmmm, another experiment?). But mostly I think people do it for the flavor combinations. Because there are a lot more flavors of soda than there are of cake, and when you start mixing them up, the possibilities are endless (okay, yes, I realize they are not, strictly speaking, endless, there are a finite number of flavors and therefore, even if you start talking about using partial mixes (4 oz of 3 different flavors of soda, two half-boxes of cake mix, etc), it's a very large number but still finite).
So try strawberry soda and a white cake mix, or black cherry soda and a dark chocolate cake mix... maybe a pineapple cake with cherry soda... or... or... You see? (Nearly) Endless possibilities!
And don't worry, the cake in the picture did not go to waste. It was perfectly good, layered with some ice cream in a sundae glass...
Have a recipe you think I'd like, or want your favorite made into a recipe card? E-mail me!