The Secret Ingredient Hiding In This Vintage Chocolate Cake Recipe Is So Weird

February 06, 2019

As we all know, the best cakes are cooked with love. But usually, there’s a bunch of other stuff in there that makes it taste phenomenal. Some of the best recipes have been passed on from generation to generation, usually on old yellowed recipe cards that have been accidentally coated with flour one too many times. That said, it makes sense if similar wear and tear may make you doubt one of the ingredients in this particular chocolate cake.

The recipe was discovered by Delish writer Lena Abraham, who also thought it was a mistake. As a fan of vintage recipes — since, it’s kind of crazy to witness what was popular decades ago — Abraham learned that this ingredient was actually kind of a big deal back in the day.

You might find it on hot dogs, but never a chocolate cake. You guessed it — the secret ingredient is sauerkraut.

So, uh — how is this a thing? One myth states that it originated in lunch rooms when kitchen staff were told that they had to find a way to use up the cans of sauerkraut that were taking over storage. It almost sounds like a joke, if you think about it. Someone must have really hated kids, to hide such a unique non-dessert.

People are still making them today. In fact, according to some, it almost vanishes into the cake, meaning that you may not even know it’s in there. It’s possible you, yourself, have ingested a sauerkraut cake without even realizing it before.

Abraham put herself to the test and used a recipe from Spruce Eats to make her sauerkraut cake. And the result? She wasn’t really a fan — but not due to the sauerkraut. As far as general chocolate cake goes, it was actually a little bland.

That may happen if you naturally assume that the sauerkraut will flavor the cake. It actually won’t. If anything, it’ll change the texture around.

So, why make it? Well, it couldn’t hurt to add another recipe to your repertoire. Also, it may be a blast from the past for your parents, if you serve them up a slice.

It’s also great to make if you bought a little too much sauerkraut. If you’re ever in such a pickle (pun totally intended). So perhaps you should aim to make it after the Fourth of July. Or, even serve it along with your burgers and dogs.

The cake itself seems to be most popular in a chocolate form, but certain daredevils out there have also blended in peanut butter.

Amanda Formaro from Amanda’s Kitchen claims that her husband didn’t even realize sauerkraut was in the cake when he tried it. “The sauerkraut is rinsed and drained, so most of the pickling flavor is washed away, and it adds a fabulous moist and chewy texture to the cake, much like coconut would,” Formaro wrote on the blog.

With so many testimonials, it’s pretty obvious that this is a cake that will turn out much better than you expected. While the sauerkraut doesn’t make it healthy, it’s definitely a tiny bit healthier than your standard chocolate cake.

Plus, if you have picky eaters, it may be a great way to hide a vegetable. It may be a stretch, and you probably view it more as a garnish, but technically sauerkraut is just fermented cabbage.

But no matter what, the jig may be up when your kids realize. And, can you blame them?

It might work if they’re unfamiliar with sauerkraut, but the second they catch wind (or suddenly see their favorite cake ingredient at the barbecue) they might think you’re a little strange. But, they’re not alone.

There are plenty of adults out there who just refuse to give it a shot based on the ingredients alone.

But if you’re curious (and I know you are) there are plenty of good recipes floating around. Chances are, you already have the other ingredients in your kitchen if you’re an avid baker.

It might be fun to make one for your friends and reveal the hidden ingredient at the very end, but be cautious. Some people have histamine intolerance, which means the sauerkraut may make them feel ill. (And not just because it’s in a cake).

Sauerkraut cake may not be as popular now as it was back then. And, well — chances are, it’ll never reach the same level of popularity again. But it’s still a very fun weekend project, and a way to really challenge your taste buds.

And if you’ve always told yourself you never liked the vegetable before, maybe it’s worth it to try it prepared in a whole new way. The fun part about vegetables is that they’re so versatile.

…Sauerkraut being more versatile than, say, peas. But, who knows? Maybe there’s a vintage pea cake out there that just has yet to be discovered. If anything, this sauerkraut cake is a reminder that in the world of baking, anything is possible.