Texas Sheet Cake is quite popular here, and for good reason. It takes about 20 minutes to bake, doesn’t require an electric mixer, and because you ice it while hot, it can be baked and served in an hour. But even if Texas Sheet Cake were difficult, it would still be special because of the icing. That’s the best part! It’s shiny, sets up like fudge but is soft on the bottom and flaky on the top, and can be made with or without nuts. As for the cake, it’s usually made in 15×10 inch pan, always calls for either buttermilk or sour cream, and can be made with or without cinnamon. Lady Bird Johnson’s Mexican Chocolate Cake, which some claim to be the original Texas Sheet Cake, is made with cinnamon.
This weekend I made a Texas Sheet Cake. I thought about taking it to my family at Lake LBJ, but the cake is my sister-in-law’s “thing” and I didn’t want to infringe. She ended up bringing cookies, so now I wish I’d taken it, but hey – more for us. And by more, I mean a whole 15×10 inch cake. If you want to half the recipe, give it a try. If I were halving it, I’d use a 9 inch square pan.
Here are a few more photos. They were taken in different light, but I think they give you a good idea of the texture — especially that of the icing.
Update: I recently tested this recipe in a Nordicware half sheet pan with lid which measure around 12×17. The cake was a lot thinner and bake time was exactly 15 minutes at 375.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (9 oz)
- 2 cups minus a tablespoon of granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (8 oz)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened natural (not Dutch) cocoa powder
- 1 cup water
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 14 oz to 16 oz confectioners' sugar (use 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups)
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
- 1/4 scant teaspoon salt -- omit if using salted butter
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 7 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 15x10 inch jelly roll pan.
- Mix the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon (if using) in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Melt butter in a medium size saucepan. Stir in the cocoa powder and water and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling cocoa mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and mix with a spoon until blended.
- In a second bowl (or you can just use the saucepan -- no need to even clean it), whisk together the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and baking soda. Add the egg mixture to the cocoa mixture and stir until blended – do no overbeat. Just do your best to blend the ingredients.
- Pour batter into the pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (check at 15), or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. As soon as you pull the cake from the oven, start the icing. To get a head start, you might want to sift the sugar while the cake bakes.
- Icing: Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a mixing bowl and set aside. You can skip the sifting step if you must, but sifting helps it to blend easier and the icing will be smoother.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. When butter is almost melted, add the 4 tablespoons cocoa and 7 tablespoons milk and bring just to a boil. As soon as the mixture reaches a good boil, remove from heat. Pour the hot boiling cocoa mixture into the bowl of sifted confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Work quickly so that icing won’t start to set in the bowl. Pour over the cake and let sit until firm
For the icing, I've also tested a sour cream variation. For the sour cream variation, sift about 14 oz of flour into a bowl and set aside. In a large saucepan melt 1/2 cup unsalted butter along with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in 1/4 cup cocoa powder until smooth, then reduce heat to very low and stir in 1/3 cup sour cream. Remove from heat and stir powdered sugar into warm chocolate mixture 1 cup at a time. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Carefully pour and spread over cake.