This made from scratch Texas chocolate sheet cake comes together quickly over the stove and feeds a whole crowd!
Why is it called a Texas sheet cake?
Texas sheet cake was introduced as German Sweet Chocolate Cake in a Dallas newspaper in 1957. Over time, the recipe was simplified into Texas sheet cake. Ingredients were combined and cooked in a single sheet cake pan instead of baked into two or three pans and then layered. The size of the flat, impressive sheet cake is reminiscent of Texas’s status as the second largest (sprawling) state in the United States. With a nod to Texas’s neighbor to the south, chefs added cinnamon as well.
What pan do I use for sheet cake?
The most important piece of equipment you’re least likely to have is a sheet cake pan. The pan that I use for making sheet cakes is this 12×18 inch pan with 2-inch depth. The special thing about a sheet cake pan is that it is larger than a conventional cake pan (12” or 13” x 18” for sheet cake versus 9” x 13” for regular cake). It has shorter sides than a conventional cake pan and can also be used as a jelly roll pan.
Tips for how to make it
- One of the fun quirks of this recipe is that the cake is made over the stove for about 5-10 minutes. I place the butter, cocoa, and water in all at once and bring it to a boil over medium heat. (If you use high heat, stir the mixture constantly as the butter melts to prevent any burning.)
- I collect the other dry ingredients while the cocoa mixture builds to a boil so I’m ready to go as soon as the chocolate mixture is done on the stove.
- Make sure to beat the eggs until they are truly homogenous. If the eggs are not well-beaten prior to adding to the cake mixture, they will prevent cake from rising properly.
- It is crucial to frost the cake while the cake is hot from the oven. Otherwise, the very thick frosting is almost impossible to spread on the cake. The best way to frost the cake is to dollop the frosting on in smaller portions. Let the cake heat the icing on the bottom to make it easier to spread.
Ingredients and substitutions
Stay tuned to our blog for a keto version of this recipe in the future! In the meantime, here’s the breakdown for the original, as passed down from my mother and aunt.
- Flour – nothing fancy. Any normal store brand flour will suffice for this recipe.
- Granulated sugar – easily substitute in Swerve if you just want lower calories or less glycemic index, even if you aren’t trying to make a keto cake.
- Cocoa powder
- Cinnamon – The original recipe called for one teaspoon instead of one tablespoon, but I prefer the cake with more cinnamon kick. Another option to add spice would be 1 tsp chili powder.
- Vanilla extract
- Buttermilk – If you’d rather not buy an entire carton of buttermilk, just add ½ teaspoon lemon juice to ½ cup milk. Let sit for 5 minutes, et voila! You have soured milk which substitutes beautifully for buttermilk in any cake recipe.
- Powdered sugar – I ran out of regular powdered sugar and made up the difference with powdered Swerve while making this cake. Happy to report that the frosting tasted as delicious as ever!
- Sweetened condensed milk – You could consider swapping heavy whipping cream or almond milk with a lot of stevia to sweeten it. I haven’t yet tried substituting the sweetened condensed milk, I will be posting an alternate for the keto version of this cake.
Does Texas sheet cake need to be refrigerated?
No! It will stay well at room temperature. We had out sheet cake outside for almost 4 days and there was no negative effect to the taste. Depending on the humidity of where you live, the chocolate frosting may get a bit soft. In that case, you can stick it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes so that it becomes hard again.
Can I Add Additional toppings?
- In warm weather, this cake goes wonderfully with a simple scoop of ice cream. We love vanilla with it.
- Another optional pairing would be blackberries or cherries and whipped cream.
- Add a caramel drizzle on top for extra flair.
- Many traditional Texas sheet cakes incorporate pecans in the frosting. We don’t use pecans in our family’s version of the recipe, but you could!
Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake
- sheet cake pan
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 cups Sugar , granulated
- 8 oz Butter , about 1 cup
- 4 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1 cup Hot Water
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- ½ cup Buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 16 oz Sugar , powdered
- 4 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 6 oz Butter , unsalted
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- 6 Tbsp Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Grease a sheet cake pan (around 13” x 18”) and preheat oven to 400°F.
- Heat butter, cocoa, and water in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture boils for one minute. Stir constantly while the mixture is actually boiling. Remove from heat.
- Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and baking soda in a separate bowl. Stir with a fork to remove any clumps. Then add to the boiled chocolate mixture.
- Beat vanilla, buttermilk, and eggs together in a separate bowl until a homogenous mixture develops. Then mix into the chocolate mixture.
- Pour into the sheet cake pan. It is normal of the batter is thin and pours easily. Bake for 20 minutes.
- While the cake bakes, make the frosting. Melt butter in a bowl and add powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk. Mix together with a hand mixer and leave at room temperature until the cake is cooked. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then begin frosting.
- Serve by itself or (our favorite) with a hefty scoop of ice cream!