BAKE & GATHER | TEXAS CHOCOLATE SHEET CAKE

Recipe

It is so easy to make and perfect for our family when we just want to “celebrate” being together. I first perfected this cake when I had my mom over visiting after my father’s passing. We are still mourning but also enjoying the fact that we are gathered together around my kitchen table. I am being very intentional with the time I spend with my family, so it is really a big deal to just sit and “enjoy the good” in life. So pop this cake in the oven and do a cheer. Here’s to celebrating the little things. Because in the end, they all add up to one big, fond memory that will get passed on around  the dinner table.

WHAT MAKES AN AUTHENTIC TEXAS SHEET CAKE?

When researching this classic cake, three common characteristics for “authentic” Texas sheet came up.

  • Natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Buttermilk
  • Pecans

There are dozens of variations on this rich chocolate cake. I think it is so enduring because it is simple, affordable and quick to fix. It uses common kitchen ingredients that are already sitting in the back of your pantry.

The classic recipe is meant to be very thin and is baked in a 13×18-inch sheet pan (technically a “half-sheet” pan) 

BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVER-BAKE THE CAKE

 While the icing glaze helps keep this cake ultra-moist, make sure not to over-bake the cake. It is so thin that it can quickly dry out if left too long in the oven. Bake just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back to the touch.

HOW TO ICE A TEXAS SHEET CAKE

The icing should be poured onto the cake while both are warm; this way, some of it soaks into the top layer of the cake and creates a glazed top.

However, it’s crucial that the cake not be too hot. I read that pouring the icing right when the cake comes out of the oven will absorb right into the cake. Let the cake rest for a few while preparing the icing.  5 minutes of cooling can make all the difference. Also, be sure to sprinkle any toppings you want as soon as the icing is poured, as it starts to set almost immediately into a thick glaze, there is really no good way to spread it around after it starts.

SERVING AND STORING TEXAS SHEET CAKE

After icing sets, you can serve this cake immediately or two days later. To slice, serve the cake straight from the pan. Slice it with a thin, sharp knife and use a thin, flexible spatula to transfer each slice to the plate. Store slices of leftover cake on the counter in an airtight container with a lid or covered in plastic wrap.

Texas Sheet Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coffee (or water substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ( but I added liberally)
  • 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

For the icing:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans (optional)

To Make Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray or butter a half-sheet pan (13×18 inches) and line the bottom with parchment.

        2. Sift together first 5 ingredients. Set aside in large mixing bowl.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

       3. In a separate sauce pan, combine coffee or water substitute, butter and cocoa and bring to a boil. Whisk until melted and smooth while coming to a simmer. Once boiling, remove from the heat.  Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients. Beat until well mixed and smooth.
3/4 cup water or coffee ( I used Sumatra )
1 stick butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

      4. Next, add final three ingredients. Beat with electric mixer until well combined.
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs beaten

    5. Pour into prepared pan. Spread the batter into the pan and tap pan on counter to release big air bubbles.  Bake for 28 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (My oven took 35 minutes, oven temperatures vary.) Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool briefly, about 5 to 10 minutes, while you make the icing.

    6. Icing.  As soon as the cake is done baking and on the cooling rack, combine the butter, cocoa, and buttermilk together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Pour hot boiling butter, buttermilk and, unsweetened cocoa powder over the powdered sugar and beat with an electric mixer or by hand. Pour the hot icing over the still-warm-ish cake and spread evenly. Sprinkle the top with chopped pecans or other toppings if you desire.

Allow enough time for icing to set and cake to cool before serving. 

This cake doesn’t last long in my house, so really there is no need for me to have a cover but its always handy to have one! I found this 13×8.9 baking dish with a fitted lid here

Coffee is optional, some people just use water. I will NEVER turn down coffee though – It also enhances the cocoa flavor and makes for a richer tasting cake in my opinion. I used my own roast – a dark, Sumatra peaberry with some pretty exquisite notes. Find it here.

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