The football game might just be the perfect American activity.
Thankfully, I was introduced to tailgating at a young age. My family had season tickets to Vanderbilt Football games when I was a kid. We would pack up our van with lots of food, head down to Nashville on Saturday afternoons and spend the day in the park across the street from the Stadium (oh yes, back in the 80's you could park in Centennial Park on gameday. Ahhh... the good ole days). I only have a vague recollection of those years, but what I do remember, is enjoying my family and enjoying the outdoors. I didn't know anything about football and could care less at the time, but there is something about that time of my childhood that I always wistfully reminisce about in the fall.
As I grew up... and went off to college (go cocks!), tailgating and football became more and more socially oriented. It was the one time on the weekends that you actually got up early, iced down a case of shitty beer, bought a ton of chips, cookies, etc and hung out with your surrogate family. Sometimes you'd toss around a football. You'd meet new people on the way to the porta-potty. And it grew into a love of the sport as well. Not just a love of the tailgate.
No where else in the world, have I ever felt the sense of community as I do in football tailgates. There's an electricity in the air. People are gathered together for common goals: To enjoy the company others, to eat delicious food and drink alcoholic beverages, and to come together in the support of a team that bonds you together (even with the opposing team. Oops. Except at LSU. Those bastards are not interested in being nice to the opposition until AFTER the game and they've kicked your ass).
So you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to a friends Vandy Tailgate a few weeks ago. It was the kickoff tailgate for the season. And if my mom taught me anything about tailgating... it's that you never show up empty-handed. (Plus bringing a baked good,greatly increases your chances at getting a shot at breaking into the cornhole inner sanctum and getting to play a game).
And if bringing a baked good isn't enough, go ahead and decorate it in your team's colors. Black and gold, baby. All the way. And dont worry about how it tastes. Even if it's not very good... and... even if, after schlepping it in a cake carrier for 2 miles it shows up at the tailgate a smeared mess, everyone will be too impressed and too drunk to notice. Bonus!
Here's to the start of a new football season! Hope to see you out there.
Root Beer Float Cake
From the guys who wrote Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
However, I stole the recipe from Joy the Baker
Okay, so, here's the deal. You can't taste the root beer. Like, at all. Now, that could be because I used Mug Root Beer from a 2 liter bottle. But, if you're expecting a huge BANG from the root beer, look elsewhere.
Also, I thought the consistency of the cake was a little... off. It seemed kind of grainy, to me. Now, it's entirely possible that this is a baker's issue and not a recipe issue (as I'm not known for my awesome cake baking skills, sadly).
Overall, it's a good cake. But I wouldn't make it again. Maybe I overbaked mine. Maybe I have funky cake mojo. Either way, you should give the recipe a try for yourself... yours might just be a touchdown! (couldn't resist, sorry).
2 cups root beer (don’t use diet)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
Preheat even to 325 degrees F. Spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, or butter generously and dust with flour, knocking out the excess.
In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until butter is melted. Add sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
In a small bowl whisk the eggs until just beaten. Then whisk into the cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy. You can give it a quick whisk if you like, but don’t over beat the batter or it could cause the cake to be tough. Don’t worry, the batter is very loose.
Pour the batter into prepared pan and cook for 35-45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking until a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely then loosen edges with a butter knife and turn out onto a cake plate.
Chocolate Root Beer Frosting
2 ounces 60% cocoa, melted
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt (you may want to use less… maybe just 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric hand mixer, beat softened butter and cocoa powder. Once combined add the melted chocolate, salt, powdered sugar and root beer. Beat together until smooth. Spread on top of cooled cake. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.