The first time my French husband, Fabien, came to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, we’d only been dating a few months and he spoke very little English. I was excited about introducing him to my family (I come from a very big family) and a little nervous too since I’m the youngest of six siblings!
I know all too well how difficult it is to be sitting around the table in a country that speaks a different language than your own. When I was learning French and living in France, the dinner table was the best place to practice the language. I did a lot of listening those first few months and just when I was able to pick up on the subject of the conversation and open my mouth to try to formulate my contribution, the subject would have changed and I’d have to begin again, deciphering the new topic. I wrote a little bit about that in the post about Pain Perdu (French Style French Toast).
So, when Fabien, sat down at his first American Thanksgiving feast, he took a risk and tested his English in the thickest French accent by announcing: “I like two doctors, Doctor Dré et Doctor Pepper.” And that was the moment my family accepted him into ours.
It was pretty early on that I knew about Fabien’s obsession with a few American classics. Hamburgers, cinnamon rolls, and Dr. Pepper to name a few. So when July rolled around, and we happened to be in America to celebrate his birthday, I decided to bake something unusual. A Dr. Pepper cake.
I personally, detest Dr. Pepper. I think it tastes like medicine with a dash of chemicals. This birthday was a long time ago, so long ago in fact, it was before the days where I turned up my nose to boxed cake and brownie mixes. The only recipes I found online for Dr. Pepper cakes required using a pre-made cake mix and then stirring a can of Dr. Pepper into that. I made that one for years. The craziest part? I LOVED it. Basically what happens is that the Dr. Pepper sort of disintegrates into sugar and loses that artificial cherry flavor entirely. It’s a classically soft and spongey vanilla sheet cake with a simple glaze. So as the years passed, I began to look forward to our Dr. Pepper cake tradition. A few years ago though, I decided to make one from scratch. And most of the recipes encouraged a chocolate cake base rather than vanilla. It just wasn’t as good.
So, this past July, for Fabien’s birthday I decided to do a homemade vanilla Dr. Pepper cake and I can finally present it here today. While it doesn’t taste like Dr. Pepper, you get a little hint of it when you make the glaze topping that is just Dr. Pepper mixed with powdered sugar. Go ahead and try it with other soda’s too. You can do a Coca Cola cake, Sprite cake, etc. Happy Birthday, Fabien!
Here was my first homemade Dr. Pepper cake with a chocolate cake base. And here’s Fabien on his 30th birthday. 🙂