Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake with Mocha Frosting

Sauerkraut for dessert? This cake can be found in community cookbooks from areas with large German populations. As crazy as it sounds, the kraut adds a sweet-sour tang and a lot of moisture to this cake. Whether you disclose the identity of secret ingredient is up to you. If you don’t feel up to making a layer cake, bake the cake in a 9- by 3-inch baking pan instead.  The cake is best the day it is made; the frosting will start to “wilt” after a day, but will still taste delicious!

Makes 1 (2-layer) cake, 8 to 10 servings. 

2¼ cups (9½ ounces) all-purpose flour
½ cup (2¼ ounces) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sauerkraut
3 eggs, separated, yolks and whites reserved separately
1 cup water
11 tablespoons (5½ ounces) butter, at room temperature
1½ cups (12 ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350℉. Butter and flour 2 (8-inch) cake pans. Line each pan bottom with a circle of parchment paper. 

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. 

In a strainer, rinse the sauerkraut well. Squeeze to remove liquid, but don’t squeeze the kraut until it’s bone dry. It should be moist, but not dripping wet. Chop kraut. Stir the 3 egg yolks and water into the kraut.

In a stand mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the 3 egg whites and vanilla and beat until combined. 

Add half the kraut mixture and beat in slowly, then add half the flour mixture. Repeat with the remaining kraut and flour mixture. 

Scrape batter into prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes; until the cake edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, with only a few crumbs clinging to it.

Let cool while you make the frosting. 

For the Frosting

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon instant espresso or coffee
Pinch salt

Sift the sugar and cocoa together. Whip the cream together with the sugar mixture, instant coffee, and salt. Whip until cream is light and fluffy and stiff enough to be spreadable. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Assemble the Cake

When the cake layers are cool, frost the cake, using about 1 cup of frosting between the layers and the remainder on the exterior of the cake. 

Read Leslie Lynn Lucio's story about Real Pickles, Pickles to the People: Creating a Community Around Fermentation