The Iconic Cake as Big as Texas - Texasliving

The Iconic Cake as Big as Texas

Written and Photographed by: Marye Audet

 

When Texans refer to a chocolate cake, sheet cake, or Mexican chocolate cake, they generally are talking about the same thing: a thin, rich chocolate cake covered with a shiny glaze, bumpy with pecans. It can be found in nearly every community cookbook produced in the state after 1960, but no one really knows where it came from.

But regardless, everyone is glad that it did.

Most of those vintage recipes written in faded handwriting on envelopes, cards, and napkins have several things in common:

  • They use buttermilk, cocoa, and margarine as major ingredients.
  • Some of them instruct you to add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the flour mixture.
  • The pecans are stirred into the warm, runny icing which is then spooned over the cake.
  • It is baked in a high-sided cookie sheet so that the cake is about 1-inch thick.
  • It is usually a very large cake with about 36 servings or more. Some would say that is because everything is bigger in Texas!

These days you can find Texas sheet cake in all flavors on the internet, yet few of them bear any resemblance to the original. While they may be delicious, they have components that take them out of the running for best Texas sheet cake.

Here you will find a classic chocolate sheet cake. The only thing that has been changed is the substitution of butter for “oleo” (margarine), which so many of the old recipes utilize. You will also find a white Texas sheet cake that has all the richness of the original but with a subtle coconut flavor.

Give them both a try; each of them have flavor as big as Texas in every bite!

Classic Texas Sheet Cake

Yields 36 servings

This is the iconic chocolate version that was popular well before all of the adaptations! Thin, moist cake covered with pecans and enrobed in a fudge-like glaze is even better the second day!

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease a jelly roll pan and set aside.
  • Melt the butter until it is golden brown in a heavy pan. Do not let it burn.
  • Add the water and the cocoa and stir until smooth.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring. Remove from heat.
  • Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  • Beat in eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  • Stir in cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.
  • Spoon into jellyroll pan, smoothing out evenly.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, browned until golden
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 3 3/4 to 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans

Frosting Instructions

  • Melt butter in saucepan until golden brown.
  • Add the milk and cocoa.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring smooth.
  • Remove from heat and add the sugar, vanilla, and pecans.
  • Mix quickly and spoon over warm cake.
  • Cut in squares to serve.
RECIPE NOTES: Try substituting Dr. Pepper, coffee, Coca-Cola, or Earl Grey tea for the water in this Texas Sheet Cake.

White Texas Sheet Cake

Yields 36 servings

A delicious adaption of the original, this cake is moist and rich with a subtle coconut flavor. You can substitute almond flavoring for the coconut flavoring, if you wish.

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water

Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease a high-sided cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and line with parchment.
  • Grease the parchment and set aside.
  • Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl whisk the flavorings, buttermilk, and eggs together. Set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan.
  • Add the water and bring to a boil.
  • Pour hot butter mixture over flour mixture in the bowl beating on low.
  • Switch to medium and beat for one minute.
  • Add the buttermilk mixture.
  • Beat for one more minute then pour the batter into prepared pan.
  • Smooth the batter out evenly.
  • Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.

Frosting Ingredients

  •  1/2 cup butter, browned until golden
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3 3/4 to 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring

Frosting Instructions

  • Melt butter in saucepan.
  • Add the buttermilk.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and add the confectioner’s sugar, pecans, vanilla, and coconut flavoring.
  • Mix quickly and spoon over warm cake.
  • Smooth to cover the whole top.
  • Cut in squares to serve.