Original Texas Sheet Cake is a tried-and-true, quick chocolate recipe that never fails! Thin, moist chocolate with chocolate icing and chopped pecans!
This thin, single layer Southern dessert is practically effortless to make, and is ready in about 30 minutes! The simplicity of the ingredients and instructions is probably what helped this recipe to prevail throughout the years.
I found this recipe scribbled on the back of a Kilgore Bank deposit slip, in a Piggly Wiggly grocery sack of recipes I inherited from my Grandmother! From the looks of the newspaper clippings and other recipes in the bag, this version dates back to around 1968.
The origin of the Texas Sheet Cake is somewhat a mystery. Food historians and librarians discovered publications as early as 1936, where it appeared Galveston Daily News and in again in 1967, in the Huntsville Heritage Cookbook (out of Alabama, not Texas.) By the 1950's, this popular dessert was widely known in the South as "Texas Sheath or Sheet" Cake.
My research indicates that there was a discrepancy over whether it was called "sheet" or "sheath." There are a variety of names for this Southern classic dessert: "Sheath", Brownie or Brownie Sheet, and plain old Sheet Cake.
Early recipes used buttermilk as an ingredient; however, today, there are versions that use sour cream in lieu of buttermilk. This version uses buttermilk.
Keep in mind, this thin chocolate dessert yields about 16-20 slices, so, if you're serving a large group, you might want to double the recipe and make two!
Instructions for Original Texas Sheet cake
There are three steps in preparing this recipe:
- Prepare the chocolate sauce for the batter (which requires one cup of boiling water and melted butter)
- Next, assemble wet and dry batter ingredients in separate bowls, then combining them in a big bowl
- Finally, make the chocolate pecan icing
I've found it easiest to make the dry and wet ingredients first while the chocolate for the batter is heating. Once the chocolate batter is done, combine it with the flour/sugar/egg mixture and pour it onto an ungreased jelly roll sheet.
What Is a "Jelly Roll" pan?
A jelly roll pan (also known as a half-pan) is a rectangular baking pan usually 18 x 12 and has one-inch sides. If you don't have a jelly roll pan, use a baking sheet with sides or a 9 x 13 baking (Pyrex) dish.
This Original recipe has pecans in the icing, however, if you're serving to a large group where some might have allergies to nuts, simply eliminate them from the recipe, or serve chopped pecans on the side.
Can I make in advance?
This chocolate dessert does beautifully when made ahead! Consider storing the it in the fridge (covered) and making the icing the day you plan to serve or, make the batter and icing in advance, store in fridge, and reheat icing prior to serving.
Original Texas Sheet Cake
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- ⅓ cup cocoa
- 2 sticks butter melted
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 whole eggs lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick butter melted
- ⅓ cup cocoa
- 6 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar; set aside
- Bring one cup of water to boil
- In a saucepan, melt butter; add cocoa and one cup of boiling water; combine well; pour chocolate mixture into flour/sugar mixture; combine well
- In a separate bowl, combine lightly beaten eggs, baking soda, buttermilk and vanilla; add this to the flour/sugar/chocolate mixture; combine well
- Pour batter into ungreased baking pan; bake @350 for 20 minutes, or until center is done
- While the cake is baking, melt butter sauce pan; once melted, add cocoa, milk, vanilla, pecans and powdered sugar; combine well; set aside on the lowest temperature
- Remove cake from oven and drizzle warm frosting over cake; garnish with additional raw pecans
- Allow to cool a bit before serving
- This cake turns out best when baked in an 18 x 13 jelly roll pan. If you don't have a jelly roll pan, use a 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Texas Sheet Cake is a thin cake, not thick like an angel food cake. If you're serving a large number of people, you may want to double the recipe and bake two pans of this delicious dessert!
- Out of milk? Use 1/2 evaporated milk and 1/2 water as a substitute for the milk.