You Should Bake Yourself a Cola Cake

You Should Bake Yourself a Cola Cake

No matter what dietary restrictions you may have, or ingredients you avoid, you deserve a slice of cake. However, vegan baking often requires stabilisers and other ingredients that most people don’t have in their pantries. Cake mixes, however, are usually egg- and dairy-free; it’s the added eggs and/or butter that get you. Luckily, you don’t need either of those things to make a cake from a boxed mix. You just need a can of Coke.

Actually, with the exception of diet soda, any carbonated beverage will do. Mix a can of your favorite soda or seltzer with one box of any flavour cake mix, then pour it into a greased cake pan and bake as usual. You’ll get a moist, bouncy cake, without any egg substitutes, gums, or chickpea liquid.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will only get half the usual cake with this trick. A box of cake mix usually calls for several eggs, oil, and sometimes water. A can of soda takes up much less space, meaning you only get one eight- or nine-inch round layer, instead of two. (Not the end of the world; I just don’t want you to be surprised.)

Soda and seltzer and height and flavor

I first saw this tip in a Facebook group dedicated to vegan recipes. Being from the South, I am deeply familiar with Coca-Cola in cakes, but the ones I grew up eating are decidedly not vegan. In this soda-infused baked good, the carbonation in the beverage helps aerate the batter, giving it height. It also adds flavour. The cola I added to a box of chocolate cake mix intensified its sweet, dark, and malty flavours, while a can of cherry-limeade Polar seltzer gave a box of yellow cake mix an unmistakable fruity cereal note.

Bake a little longer for the best results

Photo: Claire Lower

Texture-wise, it’s easy for this cake to read as “vegan,” with a slightly gummy texture. When I first took a bite of the chocolate cake, I found myself nibbling on the ends more than the middle, as the centre was a little too bouncy for my liking. To combat this, just bake the cake for a little longer. You want a toothpick to come out entirely clean, and make sure to let the cake cool completely before cutting serving.

Finishing touches make all the difference

The flavour of the Coca-Cola chocolate cake was lovely. All it needed was a dollop of whipped coconut cream, or maybe a vegan brigadeiro frosting, made with sweetened condensed coconut milk.

The seltzer cake, however, was a bit unbalanced. While Polar and the like are known for their subtle flavours, the cherry-limeade seltzer was immediately detectable when baked into a simple yellow cake. It was fruity, like Fruity Pebbles—almost cloying without the accompanying bite of carbonation. It begged for acid, so I brushed it with a lemon simple syrup I had hanging out in the fridge. That fixed it, rounding out the flavour profile with a slightly sour, fresh and lemony note.

Two-Ingredient Vegan Cake

What you’ll need:

  • 1 box cake mix, any flavour
  • 1 can soda or seltzer, any flavour but diet


  1. Heat your oven to 350℉ (176C). Once it’s fully heated, add the mix to a large bowl, then add the soda or seltzer, and mix with a gentle folding motion, to keep the batter as aerated and fluffy as possible.
  2. Pour into a greased 8- or 9-inch cake pan, and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out completely clean.
  3. Let cool completely before finishing with vegan whipped cream or an infused simple syrup.

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