How to Make Fun Soda Pop Cakes
and Cupcakes

And they’re yummy.

I still remember my first soda pop cake.  We were looking for something different to take to an extended family birthday party.  We took an existing recipe and traded soda pop—root beer–for the liquid and counted on the carbonation in the pop for most of the leavening.  It took us three tries but it worked and made a grand cake.  It was a hit at the party—from the youngest to oldest—and a great conversation piece.

In this post, we’ll tell you:

  • How a soda pop cake works.
  • How to make a soda pop cake from scratch.
  • How to make a soda pop cake from a store mix.
  • How to make soda pop cupcakes
  • How to make cream filled cupcakes

How a Soda Pop Cake Works

Bubbles.  That’s what makes cakes rise.  To be specific, they’re carbon dioxide bubbles.

Leaveners like baking soda and baking powder use a chemical reaction to create bubbles.  When an acid and base come together with water, they fizz and bubble.  (But you remember that from your high school chemistry days.)   Baking powder has both a base and an acid and only needs water.  Baking soda is only a base and needs an acid like sour cream or buttermilk to react.

But along comes soda pop, all fizzy and full of bubbles, carbon dioxide bubbles.  (That’s why they call it carbonation.)  It can work also as a leavener to make your cakes lighter and full of bubbles.  So you can add soda pop for all or part of the baking powder or baking soda.  It makes a great cake.  And it’s fun.

Making a Soda Pop Cake from Scratch

This interesting cake has just a touch of root beer flavor but it comes out light and moist. Be sure to use root beer with sugar in it, not sugar-free.  You can use cola instead of root beer if you prefer.

Root Beer (or Cola) Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Butter Frosting

While we used this buttercream frosting on our root beer cake, it’s a simple frosting that works well on any cake.  It can be made for piping for cupcakes.

3/4 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon root beer flavor
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Ramstadt Breda Dark Cocoa, or equal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 12-ounce can root beer, not sugar-free

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and dust with flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

  1. Cream the shortening and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Beat for five or six minutes so that the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the root beer flavor.
  2. In another bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, salt, and soda together.
  3. In three or four additions, alternately add the dry ingredients and the liquids to the creamed mixture starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix only until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool completely before frosting with the frosting of your choice.

For the frosting:

3/4 cup butter
about 5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional milk as required

  1. Cream the butter. Add half the powdered sugar and two tablespoons milk.
  2. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar, beating as you go.
  3. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate. Add more milk as required to reach a consistency for piping or spreading.

Root Beer (or 7-Up) Spice Cake Recipe

This cake is a spice version of the chocolate cake above.

Made with root beer, it has just a touch of root beer flavor but it comes out light and moist. If you prefer, you can use 7-Up® or other lemon lime soda in place of root beer.

We created a root beer buttercream frosting to go with it.

3/4 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon root beer flavor or lemon flavor depending on the pop you use
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 12-ounce can root beer, not sugar-free

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and dust with flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

  1. Cream the shortening and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Beat for five or six minutes so that the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the flavor.
  2. In another bowl, mix the flour, spices, salt, and soda together.
  3. In three or four additions, add the dry ingredients and the liquids to the creamed mixture alternately starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix only until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool completely before frosting with the frosting of your choice.

Root Beer Buttercream Frosting

3/4 cup butter
about 5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons root beer flavor
Additional water as required

Cream the butter. Add half the powdered sugar and two tablespoons water. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar, beating as you go. Add the nutmeg, root beer flavor, and more water as required to reach a spreadable consistency.

Making Soda Pop Cakes with a Store Mix

In the recipes above, the cakes rely mostly on the soda pop for leavening.  When you use cake mix, it has plenty of leavening.  But it’s still fun to add soda pop.

These recipes use ordinary boxed cake mixes.  Of course, you can make cupcakes or cakes with the recipes.  We chose cupcakes and then filled them with Bavarian cream.

It’s easy to fill cupcakes with premade Bavarian cream.  Buy the two-pound dispenser packs.  Here’s how to fill them:

  1. Make the cupcakes just as ordinary cupcakes.
  2. After the cupcakes have baked, clip a 1/4 inch corner off the dispenser bag of Bavarian cream.  Hold a cupcake in your hand and poke the clipped corner of the bag about 3/4 inch deep in the center of a cupcake.  You do not need to cut a slit for the bag.
  3. Squeeze.  You will feel the cupcake expand and get heavier as it fills.  If you squeeze too much, you’ll get cracks around the hole but that’s okay; you’re going to cover it with frosting. Repeat with the other cupcakes.  After a few cupcakes, you’ll have the feel for how much to squeeze.
  4. Frost the cupcakes.

Watch this video to see how to fill cupcakes. 

Orange Crush Soda Pop Cupcakes

1 white cake mix, Betty Crocker or equal
oil and eggs as called for on the package instructions
Orange Crush or other orange soda pop, not diet

Bavarian cream pastry filling or other filling
1 buttercream frosting mix or recipe
orange color
orange flavor

  1. Mix the cake mix according to package instructions but substituting orange pop for the water.  Add one teaspoon or more orange flavoring.  (The pop will tint the batter orange.)
  2. Fill cupcake liners in a muffin pan and bake as directed.
  3. To fill your cupcakes, clip the corner of a bag of pastry filling and insert the open corner into the top of each cupcake.  Squeeze until you feel the cupcake bulging but before it splits.  For other fillings, use a filling injector or fill a pastry bag and use a star or elongated tip to fill the cupcakes.
  4. Make the frosting adding orange color and orange flavor as desired.  Frost the tops of the cupcakes covering the holes.

Root Beer Soda Pop Cupcakes

1 spice cake mix, Betty Crocker or equal
oil and eggs as called for on the package instructions
root beer soda pop, not diet
root beer flavor
color as desired

Bavarian cream pastry filling or other filling

1 buttercream frosting mix or recipe
orange color

  1. Mix the cake mix according to package instructions but substituting orange pop for the water.  Add one teaspoon or more root beer flavoring.
  2. Fill cupcake liners in a muffin pan and bake as directed.
  3. To fill your cupcakes, clip the corner of a bag of pastry filling and insert the open corner into the top of each cupcake.  Squeeze until you feel the cupcake bulging but before it splits.  For other fillings, use a filling injector or fill a pastry bag and use a star or elongated tip to fill the cupcakes.
  4. Make the frosting adding color and flavor as desired.  Make the frosting and frost the tops of the cupcakes covering the holes.

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