Root Beer and Tonka Bean Birthday Cake

Every year, not long after my birthday, hubby also turns another year older. This year his 40th birthday landed on a Thursday and on one of the busiest days that I’ve had in a long while. The poor guy almost didn’t have a cake at all, which is a bloody travesty in my books. There isn’t anything I like to do more than bake a cake.  The actual cake that I had planned out in my mind was this Brooklyn Blackout Chocolate Stout Cake (from Ovenly in Brooklyn) that I had spied on David Lebovitz’s Instagram feed and I really wanted so badly to bake it. ovenlycakeAlas, it was never meant to be, the execution of said cake just didn’t play out. I thought I had planned everything out: eggs, check; cream, check; blocks of butter at room temperature, check; stout beer, check. Did you notice any really important ingredient missing from my list? Yep, that would be cocoa. In this house with a superbly stocked pantry I might add, I could not find more than two tablespoons of dark cocoa powder. Such is life when you have cooking teens that like to bake brownies, I guess. I knew that if I made a trip to the store, the travel would greatly cut into my window of time I had set aside for cake baking, that being between 8 am and 12:45 pm on that day. I put my Brooklyn Blackout Cake dreams aside and thought about what other cake I could make that wasn’t chocolate.

Now to Bake a Rootbeer Cake

For once I didn’t want to do anything citrus related and it had to be a cake that I had the ingredients on hand for. I thought really hard about what hubby would like and came up with…rootbeer! Surely there would be all sorts of recipes on pinterest for rootbeer cakes. I had a look and quickly ruled out the classy {sarcasm} rootbeer ‘poke’ cakes and the ones that used boxed mixes. What was left after that was a lovely looking Root Beer Cake pin from Culinary Alchemy and I had just enough Hires Root Beer left from our recent trip to the Vintage Soda Company in Airdrie. I didn’t have any rootbeer extract on hand but I did have 3 cans of Hires so I set immediately to reducing one of them down to 2 tbsp of syrup. Did I mention that I finally began making this cake at 11:45 am? This left me 1 hour to reduce the rootbeer and get that cake in the oven. I decided to not worry about the recipe asking for cake flour and just went crazy with the sifter. I ground some tonka beans in my spice grinder and threw in about a teaspoon instead of using vanilla. 006

Everything worked out just fine. I got the batter into the pans with nary a second to spare…and maybe a moment too soon as I spied some lumps going into the pans which I quickly fished out. The minute I had the cake out of the oven and cooling on racks, I was out the door and on my way to my hair appointment. I had actually texted hubby in a moment of panic asking, “what would you like more for your birthday? A birthday cake or a beautiful wife?” HA! For the next three hours I tried not to obsess about how I was going to finish the cake because I knew I would be leaving for football as soon as I returned home. Somewhere in that time I was able to book us a table for two at NOtaBLE (which is conveniently located near the football field) and instruct our daughter on how to make vanilla butter cream. She saved the day by finishing the cake for me. rootbeercake3I dropped our son at the football field at the appointed time and met hubby at NOtaBLE for well deserved (and much needed) pre-dinner cocktails. After our delicious meal (he had the prime rib, I had pork tenderloin) we were able to watch the rest of the football jamboree. Our evening ended the way all great birthdays do, with cake! Despite the sorely needed extra mixing time the texture of the cake was gorgeous and we could actually taste the root beer.

Root Beer Birthday Cake with Tonka Bean


Rootbeer and Tonka Bean Birthday Cake


0.0 rating
What to bake the Rootbeer lover in your life.
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:30 mins
  • Cook Time:30 mins
  • Serves:8
  • Freezable:Yes

Nutrition per portion

    • 1 cup (226g) Unsalted Butter; softened
    • 1 1/2 (300g) cups granulated sugar
    • 2 1/2 cups (283g) AP flour (plus more for the pans)
    • 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
    • 1 tsp freshly ground tonka bean
    • 1 tsp Salt
    • 1 cup Hires Root Beer
    • 1 can Hires Root Beer reduced to 2 tbsp
    • 4 large Eggs
    1. Pre heat oven to 350 F.
    2. Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans.
    3. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then add eggs one at a time.
    4. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and tonka bean into a medium bowl.
    5. Mix root beer and reduced syrup in a small pitcher.
    6. Add flour mixture and root beer to the butter mixture, alternating between flour and root beer. Begin and ending with adding flour.
    7. Beat until smooth and no lumps remain. Divide evenly between prepared pans.
    8. Bake for 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Be sure to cool completely before frosting the cake.

    I’m not sure what recipe my daughter used for the buttercream but any recipe will do. She added some caramel sauce to the buttercream (as per my request) but it was quite sweet…you are best to go with a butter cream that is more ‘buttery’ as opposed to ‘sweet’. rootbeercake2





    1. Natalie Browne

      This cake looks and sounds delicious 🙂 Your story sounds like how I bake, lol. I often forget one of the key ingredients and I always underestimate the time required. As for the buttercream, I usually add a pinch of salt to cut the sweetness.


    2. Nicole @ Culinary Cool

      I love that you used Tonka Beans! I’ve been eyeing them up for sooooo long, and always pass them up! Next time, I will be sure to buy them! The cake looks effing awesome! I wish I could have a thick slice 🙂


      1. dishnthekitchen

        I found some sasparilla bitters in San Francisco…there might be a Root Beer Cake 2.0 coming out soon 🙂


    3. Teresa

      Happy 40th to your husband! The cake you did make turned out beautifully!


    4. cathyandchucky

      Ooh what are Tonka beans Bernice? Do they taste like vanilla and can they be substituted for them? Happy 40th to the man of the house as well 😄


    5. foodisthebestshitever

      Happy birfday to the ol’ lad. It’s my turn at 40 this year and Jennee’s a bit like you with the whole “must have cake theory”. Something to look forward to fer sure 👌


      1. dishnthekitchen

        Cake is a requirement, especially when one turns 40…another requirement? visiting San Francisco 🙂


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