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A delicious Texas tradition

No reunion, potluck, or picnic in Texas is complete without a Texas Sheet Cake.  This is a cake specifically for large gatherings: large, rich, and decadent. Tonight our bible study is having a going away thing for the various college students departing to the four corners, and this is my contribution.

I actually knew this cake not as “Texas Sheet Cake,” but as “Aunt Yoma’s Cake.” I generally  only had it once a year at a family reunion. The version I now use is also known as Mexican Chocolate Cake because of the cinnamon. But it’s technically all “Texas Sheet Cake.” Or maybe genus: Texas Sheet Cake, species: Aunt Yoma’s/Mexican sheet cake.  For more information on the history of the Texas Sheet Cake, check out this interesting post. (Yes, Texans record the history of their potluck desserts. What of it?)

One of the features that makes this a great dessert for gatherings is that it is served in the pan, so transport is easy. It’s also a thin cake, because it’s cooked in a larger pan (jellyroll size. Don’t use a 9×13; it would be a grave mistake.) This makes it easier to eat with fingers if necessary. It’s so rich, that a small piece is more than sufficient. Not that I’ve ever stopped with one small piece. It’s an easy cake to make, and very hard to mess up.

Texas Sheet Cake
There’s always one section of frosting that is nut free, no matter how hard I try to get them evenly distributed. Nutty.


Recipe for Texas Sheet Cake

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup of butter (margarine technically works, but I will judge you.)
  • 1/4 cup of of cocoa powder  (more if you want it chocolatelyer. Always a valid choice.)
  • 1/2 cup of shortening (just trust, m’kay?)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (Soda, not powder.)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup  buttermilk*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

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Melt ingredients butter, cocoa powder, shortening, and water in a saucepan on the stove top. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Combine melted ingredients and dry ingredients. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Bake in a  prepared sheet cake pan (or jellyroll pan — the big ones not the 9×13 pans). Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Meanwhile, prepare the icing. (Because you pour it on when the cake comes out of the oven.)

Ingredients for the icing.

  • 6 Tablespoons of milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter (or margarine. Still judging.)
  • 1 lb. (4 cups) powdered sugar.
  • chopped pecans to taste. (1/4 cup? 1/2 cup? Depends on how nutty you are.)

Melt butter, cocoa and milk in a saucepan.  Add sugar, nuts and vanilla. Pour over the cake while both cake and icing are warm. The icing melts into the cake a bit making it smack your mama good. (Disclaimer: never ever smack your mama.) Seriously, this is one of the best, most decadent cakes you’ll ever have.  Give it a try.

*If you don’t have buttermilk, it’s REALLY easy to “make.”  First, check to see if you have an “spoiled” milk in the fridge. That will work.  If you don’t have any, it’s an easy fix.  For 1 cup of buttermilk: put 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup.  Fill the cup with milk to the 1 cup line, and let it stand for five minutes.

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