Texas Sheet Cake is quite popular here, and for good reason. The ingredients are relatively inexpensive, it doesn’t require an electric mixer, and it can be baked and served in an hour. And of course like most Southern desserts, it’s rich and very sweet — especially the icing, which is my favorite part.
Texas Sheet Cake icing is stirred in a saucepan and poured over the cake. It sets up like fudge that’s soft on the bottom and flaky on the top. It can be made with or without nuts.
As for the cake, it’s one layer, 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.
Now I’d like to say that as a Texan I’m very experienced at making this cake, but the truth is it’s too big to make for just our family. For events, it’s inevitable one of my relatives will make it, therefore I bring something different. So unfortunately I don’t have a ton of great Texas Sheet Cake photos. Here are some older ones.
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.
Texas Sheet Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 9 oz/250 grams
- 1 scant cup granulated sugar 185 grams
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon optional
- 2 sticks unsalted butter 230 grams
- 1 cup 200 grams light brown sugar lightly packed
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder natural works best
- 1 cup water
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar 14 oz or 390 grams, sifted
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt -- omit if using salted butter
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder natural
- 1/3 cup full fat sour cream room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12x17 inch sheet pan with shortening or butter.
- In a large mixing bowl thoroughly mix the flour, granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon (if using).
- Melt butter in a 3 ½ quart saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar, cocoa powder and water and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling cocoa mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir until blended.
- In the saucepan you used for the butter/cocoa mixture, stir together eggs, vanilla and buttermilk. Add the egg mixture and the baking soda together chocolate mixture and stir by hand until blended.
- Pour batter into the pan and bake for 15 minutes. Cake should spring back when touched and have an internal temperature of about 200 degrees. It will be pretty obvious if it’s done.
- While cake bakes, weigh out your confectioners’ sugar and sift it to remove any lumps. Set it aside.
- Clean out the saucepan and melt the 1 stick of butter. Add the salt and cocoa powder and stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Add the confectioners sugar about 1 cup at a time, stirring until smooth. If icing seems to be thickening, you can do this over low heat, but the residual heat from the cocoa/butter mixture should be enough. Stir in the vanilla, then spoon over cake and spread quickly before icing starts to set.