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Food & Drink

Get Your Dessert and Vegetable Fix With Rye’s Sauerkraut Dark Chocolate Cake

Rye's sauerkraut cake isn't an overly savory cake despite the fermented cabbage's salty reputation.
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Rye's sauerkraut cake is an unexpected—and salty—twist on a classic chocolate cake. Courtesy of Samantha Reynolds Photography

Sauerkraut, made of fermented cabbage, is known for being sour, crunchy, and salty. It’s a typical side dish in central European cuisines, usually found atop a healthy bratwurst link or accompanying roasted seasoned potatoes. But sauerkraut in a sweet dessert isn’t as common.

On the menu at Rye is sauerkraut cake, a decadent, moist chocolate dessert made with sauerkraut. For fermented cabbage haters, it might take a bit of coaxing to try it, but owner and creative director Tanner Agar swears that it’s been a huge success for Rye.

“People absolutely love it, and they question it at first,” Agar says. “One of my favorite things, when people eat at Rye, is they say, ‘I never would have ordered this, but oh my God, it was amazing.'”

Sauerkraut cake originated in the 1960s when it was called the “Don’t Ask Cake,” hinting at the possibility that guests may be turned off when they learned their dessert had a vegetable buried in it. Origins of the cake are shrouded in mystery, but there’s a theory the cake’s recipe came out of World War II, when there may have been a cabbage surplus. But hey, bakers are known for using unique ingredients in their cakes and pastries, like mayonnaise, beets, and vinegar. With that in mind, why not use sauerkraut?

I tried the sauerkraut cake on a recent visit for brunch. There’s no dessert section on Rye’s brunch or lunch menu, but Agar confirmed the dessert menu is available all day, because “there’s no bad time for dessert.”

The cake comes deconstructed with alternating crumbles of dark chocolate cake and dollops of sweet torched meringue outlining the edge of the plate. In the cake piles are brandied cherries, and pooled in the middle of the plate, a salted cherry ganache. Ideally, you could scoop a little bit of everything in one spoonful, but Agar says most customers go straight for the cake on the first bite to check if there really is sauerkraut in it.

The sauerkraut taste is there, but it doesn’t overwhelm the dessert. When mixed into the batter and baked, the sauerkraut heightens the taste of the chocolate with its saltiness and helps cut the richness with its acidity. The texture of the cake has a crunchiness—thanks to the sauerkraut—akin to shredded coconut sprinkled throughout a cake.

The cake itself does lean salty, but that’s where the meringue and ganache help balance the dish with its sweetness. It reminded me of a salted dark chocolate bar—a perfect mix. And it’s one of the most unique desserts I’ve tried in Dallas recently.

“Guests are, I would say in general, they’re skeptical, and then they’re really surprised and enjoy it because it is so just so different from what you’d normally expect from a dessert,” Agar says. “And we always joke with them [that] it’s a great way to get your vegetables.”

The cake has been quietly sitting on Rye’s menu for weeks. Agar says he’s not sure how long he’ll keep it around, but it’ll likely be available until at least July.

1920 Greenville Ave.


Nataly Keomoungkhoun

Nataly Keomoungkhoun

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Nataly Keomoungkhoun joined D Magazine as the online dining editor in 2022. She previously worked at the Dallas Morning News,…

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