Gravy 48-Coca-Cola Fudge Cake graphic
Graphic by Devin Cox.

What does a Coca-Cola Fudge Cake have to do with food and crime? Gravy #48 guest editor Jack Pendarvis explains: “Bestselling novelist Laura Lippman, creator of private eye Tess Monaghan, has won every major award in crime fiction. She usually sets her work in and around Baltimore, though her Georgia roots shine through in this recipe.”


recipe courtesy of Laura Lippman

This recipe for Coca-Cola Fudge Cake has been in my family for years and I am no longer clear on its origins. I always thought it came from one of those old-fashioned group projects that schools and neighborhoods used to do, and that it might be from the Lovett School in Atlanta, which my first cousin attended. But maybe not. One thing I know for sure is that it is important not to gussy it up, although I feel bad about using margarine these days and sometimes substitute real butter, a sentence that encapsulates something important about the times in which we live, although I’m not sure what it is.

Whenever I tell people—well, non-Southerners—about Coca-Cola Fudge Cake, they say “Ewwww.” When I serve it to them, they ask for seconds. And the recipe.

In the novel Red Sky at Morning, there is a scene in the first chapter where the narrator’s mother is asked for her ham recipe. The narrator, her son, recounts:

‘There’s really nothing to it,’ said Mother. ‘The trick is, you’re supposed to warm the Coca-Cola before you pour it over the ham. Then you just keep basting. Lacey got it right the first time I showed her how.’ The son, clearly not a fan, thinks: “Yeah, she got it right, and she still cries every time she has to pour Coca-Cola over a country ham. You messed up the best cook anybody ever had, and I’m glad she’s got a good job at the compass factory. They don’t float that old needle in Coca-Cola.

I love Red Sky at Morning, but I think Richard Bradford is unduly harsh here. Or maybe it’s Joshua. I’m always telling people not to think that I share the opinions of every character in my novels.


Coca Cola Fudge Cake

Put 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar and 1 teaspoon baking soda in a mixing bowl. In a saucepan, put 2 sticks margarine, 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa, and 1 cup Coca-Cola. Bring to a boil. Pour over dry ingredients, mix thoroughly. Add 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup buttermilk and 2 cups miniature marshmallows. Bake in two eight-inch aluminum pans at 350 degrees Farenheit for 40–45 minutes.

While the cake is still hot, make the icing by bringing 2 heaping tablespoons cocoa, 1 stick of margarine and 2 ounces of Coca-Cola to a boil. Add 1 box  confectioner’s sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla; spread over cake. If it hardens too quickly, add a few drops of Coca-Cola. If it’s runny, add more confectioner’s sugar or even cornstarch. I’ve had more runny ones than hard ones. Please don’t use that sentence out of context.

The cake freezes beautifully, which is why I recommend using disposable aluminum pans.

Editor’s note: SFA World Headquarters (SFAWHQ), while a state-of-the-art facility, does not have a test kitchen. We only get our Gravy recipes from folks we trust, but if you insist on tested recipes, we recommend that you look to this guy.