Recipe Review

I Tried Coca-Cola Cake and Got a Sweet Surprise

published Feb 4, 2023
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Coke cake slice on white ceramic plate
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

The Old_Recipes subreddit is a treasure trove of forgotten recipes and memories. So when I spied a vintage recipe for double chocolate Coca-Cola cake, I was immediately sold. I did a quick scan of the ingredient list and realized I had almost everything on hand. I ran out to the corner store for a bottle of Coke and headed to the kitchen.

How to Make Double Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake

Whisk together butter, oil, Coke, and cocoa powder in a saucepan. While the butter melts, stir together flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Pour the hot liquid ingredients into the dry and stir together. Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla and stir until combined. Pour into a buttered and floured 9×13-inch pan and bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and set aside while you make the frosting. Heat butter, milk, and cocoa powder in a saucepan until the butter melts. Whisk in powdered sugar. Pour over the warm cake. 

Credit: Meleyna Nomura

My Honest Review of Double Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake

If this recipe sounds familiar to you, it did to me as well. As soon as I realized I needed a saucepan for this cake, I knew I was making a Texas sheet cake. This recipe is virtually the same, with Coca-Cola swapped in for water. It’s also baked in a 9×13-inch pan instead of a half sheet pan, producing a thicker cake.

Before I realized what I was making, I figured this would be a fun after-school snack for my 10-year-old daughter and her friends, a group we affectionately call “Homework Club.” A few neighborhood moms and I trade off afternoons hosting a gaggle of tween girls so we’re able to have longer work-from-home days. Sharing a slice of warm cake with them immediately brought me back to the ’90s; my mom’s version of this very cake; and a kitchen table full of binders, stickers, colored pencils, and, yes, occasionally some math homework. This cake holds up all these years later. 

This version skips the pecans typical in a Texas sheet cake and instead offers up a smooth and glossy finish that I really love. When I was growing up, my mom skipped expensive pecans and topped it with fat peanuts and mini marshmallows instead. I have never cared for peanuts, and always had to pick them out as I was eating. Digging into the sheet of smooth icing was so satisfying. 

I can’t say I tasted much cola flavor in the cake. I wouldn’t run out to the store specifically for Coca-Cola to make this, but it’d be a good use for the last of a two-liter bottle that’s gone flat and is taking up space in your fridge. Dr. Pepper seems to be a common substitute as well. If you don’t have either, water works just fine — or swap in coffee for deeper flavor.

My only real criticism of the cake is the name. “Double chocolate” is a little misleading. It’s just cocoa powder in both the cake and the frosting, and a modest amount of it. It’s more of a mellow chocolate flavor than it is rich and deep, but that’s also the appeal of it. Many chocolate cakes can be a bit over-the-top, but this classic recipe hits just right.

Credit: Meleyna Nomura

If You Make Double Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake, a Few Tips

  • Throughly combing the baking soda. Whisk the baking soda in with the flour and sugar to avoid bitter-tasting pockets of clumped leavener.
  • Don’t overmix. Whisk the buttermilk and eggs together first before adding to the batter to avoid overmixing.
  • Watch the bake time. My cake needed a little longer than the recipe states — almost 30 minutes — to bake through completely. Check the doneness with a toothpick before removing from the oven.

Have you ever made Double Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake? Let us know in the comments!