My very first recipe testing job was for The Veselka Cookbook. One summer, 125 Ukrainian recipes. You guys, I made so. many. perogies. And also five kinds of borscht. It was crazy and stressful and amazing, and I was so proud of myself (and stuffed) when I was done. To celebrate, naturally I baked a cake to bring to my last meeting with Veselka’s owner, Tom, head chef, Lisa, and the cookbook writer, Natalie. In keeping with the theme, I went with David Lebovitz’s chocolate sauerkraut cake.
Yes, sauerkraut. Yes, in a cake. Trust me, it’s delicious. Or don’t trust me, but you should definitely trust David Lebovitz. He was the pastry chef at Chez Panisse, and he knows more than a thing or two about desserts. Sauerkraut keeps the cake exceptionally moist and tender, and slightly tangy, like the best buttermilk cake.
David’s sauerkraut cake is hardly vegan, and with 10 tablespoons of butter (not to mention the ganache glaze) it’s hardly healthy either. But recently I stumbled upon a different version on, of all places, the Weight Watchers website. With just one small adaptation (swapping coconut oil for butter) it was easy to veganize.
I don’t have a Bundt pan (I threw it out in a rage spiral after it ripped a gingerbread in half), so I halved this recipe to make a modest-sized loaf cake. It’s the perfect dessert for six people. Serve it with chocolate sorbet and fresh raspberries.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sauerkraut, very finely chopped or purred in the food processor
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Spray the pan with nonstick spray. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the hot water, coconut oil, and vanilla and stir to blend. Stir in the sauerkraut.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for about 15 minutes, then turn it out and cool completely on a wire rack.