Texas Sheet Cake

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homemade texas sheet cake

Random fact #71 about The Hungry Mouse: I actually own a cake pan shaped like the state of Texas. True story. It’s cast aluminum, and it was my first purchase on eBay, like 8,000 years ago. I think I paid maybe nine bucks for it.

This, however, is not that cake. This is way, way better.

They say everything’s bigger in Texas. When it comes to cake, they were right. At least, so says this Yankee Mouse.

This recipe makes an impressive amount of cake. Like, almost too much cake. (Almost.)

texas sheet cake

What is Texas Sheet Cake?

Texas Sheet Cake is a thin chocolate cake topped with chocolate frosting and toasted, chopped pecans.

It’s also a really fast cake to make. You can throw it together from start to finish in just over a half an hour, give or take. Once it’s finished, you need to let it sit for about an hour to set up and settle in.

Much like my Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake, you don’t need a mixer or any fancy equipement. Just a couple of bowls and a pot.

This is a great cake to bring to a party. Or a picnic. Or a barbecue. (Fourth of July festivities, anyone?) It travels well. Just wrap the sheet pan in plastic wrap, grab a knife and a spatula, and you’re good to go.

side of chocolate cake

I found this recipe in a recent issue of Cook’s Country. The good folks over at Cook’s Illustrated say that it serves 24.

I guess that depends entirely on how much you feel like sharing.

I love the crew over at Cook’s Illustrated, because they’ll spend a lot of time monkeying around with a recipe, testing a zillion different versions until they find the one they like best. They also tell you about how they arrived at the final recipe.

For example, for this recipe, they wanted to boost the chocolate flavor of the cake, because their initial attempts just weren’t fudgey enough. So they increased the amount of cocoa powder—and added melted semisweet chocolate.

An unconventional method

This cake defies one of the 10 Commandments of Baking: Thou shalt not frost until the cake is cool.

Almost all frosted cake recipes call for waiting until the cake has cooled completely before applying the frosting. If you don’t, the heat from the cake will break down your frosting, leaving you with a runny, drippy mess.

Not this recipe. Listen up.

So, you bake this cake for about 20 minutes, yank it out of the oven, then completely douse it in warm chocolate frosting. While it’s hot. (Yep, you heard me right.)

The frosting sinks into the cake as it cools, creating this unbelievably moist, fudgey layer on top. It’s a lot like a very cakey brownie.

bite of texas sheet cake

Let’s look at that a little closer, shall we?

texas sheet cake close up of bite

Oh, after you put on the frosting, you immediately sprinkle the whole thing with chopped, toasted pecans. The pecans nestle into the frosting.

chocolate frosting with pecans

Everybody loved this cake when we brought it over to a party. (The same party that got those S’mores Bars.) I hope you enjoy it!

Texas Sheet Cake

Adapted from Cook’s Country

Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tbls. butter
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Icing
8 Tbls. butter (that’s 1 stick)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbls. light corn syrup
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbls.  vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted & chopped

Pan prep & preheating

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 11 x 18 sheet pan, line with parchment paper, and set aside.

metal sheet pan

parchment lined pan

Make the cake batter

Put the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

flour sugar mixture

Whisk together until uniform. Set aside for a sec.

dry ingredients for cake

Put the eggs (two eggs plus two egg yolks) in a small bowl.

eggs and yolks

Toss in the vanilla and sour cream.

vanilla and eggs

sour cream, vanilla, and eggs

Beat until smooth. Then set that aside along with the dry ingredients.

sour cream and egg mixture

wet ingredients for cake

Put the chocolate chips, butter, and olive oil in a medium-sized pot on the stove.

chocolate, butter and oil

Add the water and the cocoa powder.

water and chocolate

cocoa powder in pot

Cook over medium heat for maybe 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the whole mess melts and is uniform.

warm chocolate butter mixture

warm chocolate with whisk

Pour the molten chocolate/butter mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture.

warm chocolate and dry ingredients

making chocolate cake batter

Whisk to combine.

whisking cake batter

wet and dry ingredients for cake batter

It’ll take a minute to get it uniform, and look kind of gross. That’s just fine. Keep going.

cake batter up close

(See what I mean? Icky.) You should wind up with a thick, mealy paste.

chocolate base for cake batter

Add the egg mixture to the bowl.

add wet ingredients to chocolate base

(Still icky.) And stir until uniform.

bowl of cake batter

Now, it should look like smooth and lovely chocolate cake batter.

finished cake batter

The batter will be on the thick side.

close up of finished cake batter

ribbons of cake batter

Pour the batter out onto your prepared sheet pan.

pouring cake batter

chocolate cake batter on pan

Spread it around with a rubber spatula or the back of a wooden spoon until it’s evenly distributed.

smoothing cake batter

smooth cake batter on pan

Pop the pan into your preheated 350-degree oven. Bake 18-20 minutes.

texas sheet cake in oven

Toast the pecans

Toss your pecans into a nonstick pan (not greased, just throw them right in). Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly brown and very fragrant.

pecans in pan

The smell of the toasting pecans brought both beasts into the kitchen. (What can I say? They’re kitchen dogs, through and through.) I wasn’t about to let either of them nibble on hot, toasted nuts, so they had to settle for a few of their favorite apple cookies. Rough life, I know.

dexter and penelope

When the nuts are toasted, pull them out of the pan. Transfer to a cutting board. Let them cool for a few, then chop them up.

chopping toasted pecans

chopped toasted pecans

Set aside for now.

Make the icing about 10 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven

That way, it’ll be nice and warm when you pour it on the hot cake. (Hot cake + warm icing = melt-in-your-mouth-fudgey-Texas-Sheet-Cake-goodness.)

Cut the butter up into chunks and put it in a medium-sized pot. Pour in the cream.

butter and heavy cream in pot

Add the light corn syrup to the pot. I like Karo syrup, which you can find in most American grocery stores. If you live outside the U.S., or can’t get your paws on it, try Lyle’s golden syrup or something like it.

karo syrup

light corn syrup, butter, and cream

Toss in the cocoa powder.

add the cocoa to the frosting

Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is melted, smooth, and uniform.

chocolate frosting

Take the pot off the heat. Stir in the vanilla…

vanilla and chocolate frosting

…and the confectioner’s sugar (often called powdered sugar in the U.S.).

powdered sugar and chocolate frosting

Whisk it until all the lumps of sugar are gone.

whisking in powdered sugar

finished chocolate frosting

Frost the cake when it’s hot!

After 18-20 minutes, yank your cake out of the oven. It should be slightly firm to the touch and a little crackly around the edges.

hot texas sheet cake

close up texas sheet cake

Pour the pot of warm frosting right onto the cake. Do not pass go. Do not let that cake cool.

pouring hot icing

Spread the icing around with a rubber spatula or the back of a wooden spoon so that it covers the entire cake.

texas sheet cake with warm icing

spreading chocolate icing with spatula

Sprinkle the cake fairly evenly with chopped, toasted pecans.

sprinkling pecans on chocolate cake

Let cool for 45 minutes – an hour to let the icing sink into the cake.

fresh texas sheet cake

When it’s ready, slice into wedges and share with your favorite people.

corner of texas sheet cake

Enjoy!

cut cake in pan

chocolate cake with chocolate frosting

slice of texas sheet cake

Serves About 24

Texas Sheet Cake

Texas Sheet Cake is a thin chocolate cake topped with chocolate frosting and toasted, chopped pecans. It's really fast to make. You can throw it together from start to finish in just over a half an hour, give or take. Once it's finished, you need to let it sit for about an hour to set up and settle in.

Save Recipe

Ingredients

Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tbls. butter
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Icing
8 Tbls. butter (that's 1 stick)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbls. light corn syrup
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 Tbls. vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted & chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 11 x 18 sheet pan, line with parchment paper, and set aside.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until uniform. Set aside for a sec.
  3. Put the eggs (two eggs plus two egg yolks) in a small bowl. Toss in the vanilla and sour cream. Beat until smooth. Then set that aside along with the dry ingredients.
  4. Put the chocolate chips, butter, and olive oil in a medium-sized pot on the stove. Add the water and the cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat for maybe 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the whole mess melts and is uniform.
  5. Pour the molten chocolate/butter mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture. Whisk to combine. It'll take a minute to get it uniform, and look kind of gross. That's just fine. Keep going.
  6. Add the egg mixture to the bowl. (Still icky.) And stir until uniform. Now, it should look like smooth and lovely chocolate cake batter. The batter will be on the thick side.
  7. Pour the batter out onto your prepared sheet pan. Spread it around with a rubber spatula or the back of a wooden spoon until it's evenly distributed.
  8. Pop the pan into your preheated 350-degree oven. Bake 18-20 minutes.
  9. Toss your pecans into a nonstick pan (not greased, just throw them right in). Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly brown and very fragrant. When the nuts are toasted, pull them out of the pan. Transfer to a cutting board. Let them cool for a few, then chop them up. Set aside for now.
  10. Make the icing about 10 minutes before the cake comes out of the oven: Cut the butter up into chunks and put it in a medium-sized pot. Pour in the cream. Add the light corn syrup to the pot. Toss in the cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is melted, smooth, and uniform. Take the pot off the heat. Stir in the vanilla and the confectioner's sugar. Whisk it until all the lumps of sugar are gone.
  11. Frost the cake when it's hot: After 18-20 minutes, yank your cake out of the oven. It should be slightly firm to the touch and a little crackly around the edges. Pour the pot of warm frosting right onto the cake. Spread the icing around with a rubber spatula or the back of a wooden spoon so that it covers the entire cake. Sprinkle the cake fairly evenly with chopped, toasted pecans.
  12. Let cool for 45 minutes - an hour to let the icing sink into the cake.
  13. When it's ready, slice into wedges and share with your favorite people. Enjoy!
http://www.thehungrymouse.com/2010/06/15/texas-sheet-cake/

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

25 COMMENTS

  1. As soon as I seen this I had to make it. And it turned out exactly like in your picture! And the smell in the house – Wow. Thanks for your easy to follow directions, it was easier then I thought. Everyone in the office is enjoying them this morning 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness, you have officially made me hungry! I’m not much of one to eat a lot of sweets, but the pictures you have posted here of this cake may just turn me into a chocoholic. I can’t wait to try this recipe out. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  3. oh man it’s a cake and brownie in one! I have to bookmark this because I might be having a party at the end of july and this would be perfect to serve as dessert nom nom nom!

  4. Hi,
    This recipe for the Texas Sheet cake looks so fabulous that I’m making it for my son’s 25th birthday Low Country Boil party. Would you advise making it on the morning of the party and leaving it out. I’m sure it’s best when slightly warm, but I don’t want to be making it too late in the day when things get more hectic.
    Thanks in advance!!!
    Carol

    • Carol asked if she could make this cake ahead of time, YES! I love this recipe and made mine in the morning while I did my cooking in the afternoon for our party. I think it was better by sitting a few hours.

  5. I just made one a few days ago! And I just wanted to write and say – I have that same cat bowl – only in blue!! Haha! I feed my cats with those and some other cool, but different ones from Anthropologie! The cats have better stuff that we do! I’ll be trying your version of TX Sheet Cake soon!

  6. Thanks Sherry for responding. The cake turned out beautifully! And the few left-overs were delicious today. This was our first Low Country Boil and it was a big hit…so easy and so fun.
    Carol

  7. First of all let me say your website is awesome. I love the fact you have pictures of all the steps in the recipe. I made this one last night for a co workers birthday today and everyone loved it. I think you’ll have more traffic this weekend because I told everyone of your site. I also made the S’mores bars and the St. Louis Gooey Butter cake this week. They were both big hits as well. Thanks!!!

  8. This brought back memories and tasted just like it did when I was a kid!

    However – I can’t fit an 11X18 pan in my UK Stoves Range (as lovely as it is) so I’m experimenting with splitting up the batter into two pans. Happy to try and try again!!!

  9. i had my first taste of texas sheet cake this past friday and the hostess of the party said she used buttermilk instead of sour cream. i would prefer to use buttermilk, do you know the measurement? also, the pecans were not chopped, they were whole and were laid on the cake with the frosting poured on top and the pecans tasted as if they were glazed with brown sugar??? mmmmmm very tasty!

  10. Hey there
    I made this yesterday and I didn’t have an 18×11 pan, so I used a couple of smaller swiss roll pans….
    I had a couple of issues.
    1) I live in Australia, so I had to try and convert some of your measurements and temperature. I am wondering now if I converted something wrong.

    2) I cooked the cake for 20 mins at 170 celcius, but it was still really soft in the middle by this point … I ended up having to cooking the cakes for about 40 mins (basically I was looking for the solid top like you have in the picture.
    I pulled out the first cake, and when I poured the icing it, or caved in to the cake.
    A quick toothpick test of the 2nd cake (which admittedly I did neglect to do on cake 1) showed the cake was still really wet in the middle.
    Normally I wouldn’t have been too fussed as I know this is supposed to be a fudgy cake, but my best friend is pregnant and was going to be able to eat the cake unless it was cooked through … so I tried to get the icing ‘off’ of cake 1, and placed cake 2 back in the oven.

    I kept going, checking every few mins until the cakes were cooked through.
    Unfortunately by this time, my icing had cooled a fair bit, so I warmed it back through …

    I poured it on to the cakes while hot, and let it sit for an hour or so as recommended… But no dice… it didn’t really ‘sink’ in to the cake as you say.

    I was wondering if you have any other tips? My grandmother always made texas sheet cake hen I was little (I was born in Texas, but have lived in Australia since I was a kid as my family migrated). I always loved her cake, but the family recipe was never passed on due to divorce in the family. My sisters and I have been searching for years for this cake… so any help or recommendations would be appreciated!

    (Also, I think my grandma used to use a ‘copha’ instead of oil. Have you seen recipes like this?)

    We used to put the cake in the fridge and have it cold – it was so fudgy and lovely… I am just looking to get that again!

    Thanks!
    – Josey

    • Oh gosh, you were right to make sure it was cooked for your friend. OK, I’m guessing one of two things: You converted something wrong, or your oven temp is off. Do you have an oven thermometer?
      Also, how deep were your pans? If they were deeper and smaller than mine, that would definitely affect the cooking time. They’d need to bake longer.

    • Hi Josey!
      It is your baby sister Katie here! (or at least, I am assuming as this sounds like you and ‘our’ story! :P) I told you this site was fantastic! I will need to make the Chocolate Cream Pie again, it was amazing!
      If you make this again but use the correct pan (not short and deep), it should work and it is very similar to our Grandmothers!
      And Jessie – I adore your page. It trying is amazing and I look forward to purchasing your book. Keep the fantastic things coming! 😀

  11. My mother has been making this for years. We put mini-marshmallows on the cake before the frosting – and no nuts. I have a friend who puts walnuts on it. I’m thinking I might have to make this for Labor Day – and I think I’ll use your recipe.

  12. I made this cake in Pampered Chef Stonewear, it looked alittle runny, was definitely not cooked through after 20 minutes. Poured the warm frosting on it anyway…we’ll see how it turns out tomorrow. I’m hoping the heat from the stonewear will continue baking the cake. Ha anyone else made the cake in stonewear? Did you hace to adjust the baking time?

  13. Could I use all butter (melted) in place of the olive oil? Seems like I could, but I hesitate to improvise on baking – it’s been my downfall 🙂

  14. I tried a Texas Buttermilk Sheet Cake recipe yesterday and topped it with ganache. The cake came out more like a brownie, very dense and fudgy, not at all cakey. But it tasted really good, so who cares, cake like or brownie as long as it rocks. I will definitely give your version a try.

  15. Your cake photos are amazing. I plan to make this tomorrow for my bible study group. I like that it will serve a pretty large crowd. My concern is at what stage to pull off the parchment paper. Would it be before or after topping with the icing?

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