I’ve never met Maida Heatter but everyone I know tells me she is absolutely the loveliest woman they’ve ever met. Ask anyone who has ever baked from one of Maida’s books, which are full of personal stories and flowing descriptions, and they’ll say that she makes you feel as though you’ve just had a personal baking lesson from the grande dame of American cake making herself. She generously seasons her recipes with superlatives. Cakes are glorious, fabulous, towering, stunning, mile high, sinful, and over-the-top. I’ve adapted the recipe from one of her recipes and once you bake it, you’ll be using superlatives, too.—David Lebovitz
For the cake
2/3 cup sauerkraut
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces (5/8 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup low-fat milk, cold
For the glaze
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into piece
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Butter a 12-cup Bundt or tube cake pan.
2. Put the sauerkraut in a bowl of cold water. Squeeze it a few times, then drain off the water and gently squeeze the sauerkraut to remove most of the water. Chop it very fine with a chef’s knife or in a food processor.
3. Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla. While beating the butter, slowly dribble in the eggs.
5. Stir in one-third of the dry ingredients, then half of the milk. Then stir in another third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining milk. Finally, mix in the remaining dry ingredients, and the chopped sauerkraut.
6. Transfer the batter to the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely then invert onto a serving plate.
7. To make the glaze, heat the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup together until melted and smooth. Let stand until room temperature, then spoon the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to run down the sides.
Recipe © 2004 David Lebovitz. All rights reserved.