Monday, June 04, 2007

Texas sheet cake for a birthday

texas sheet cakeAnytime is a fantastic time for a birthday, but I’m particularly partial to those birthdays that fall in the month of June. In my family, I have my dear cousin Andrew, a soon-to-be sophomore at North Carolina School of the Arts. In the city, I have my old cosmic buddies, Lisa and Jeanette. In the food blogging world, we have Christine, Sam, Ronnie, Valentina, Meena and Meeta celebrating birthdays this month. One of my favorite writers (and a fellow Texan) Larry McMurtry is a June baby and well, yes, yesterday was my birthday, too.

I’m kind of shy about my birthday (OK, obviously not that shy if I’m writing about it on the internet for thousands of people to see!), and haven’t had a big bash in a few years. I’m more prone to thoughtful contemplation about the nature of aging, all shared with good friends, good food, good songs and good cheer. Melissa recently wrote about the choices people make on their birthdays and how this defines them. She divided people into two groups: those who go for the new and those who go for the familiar. I tend to fall in the latter category, wanting my birthday to be about comfort and treasured favorites since getting older is enough of an adventure. And growing up, it wasn’t my birthday unless I was eating a certain chocolate cake known as Texas sheet cake.

Now I don’t know if Texas sheet cake originated in Texas, but you’d be hard pressed to find a Texan who doesn’t serve this rectangular chocolaty dessert. It’s a mainstay at barbecues, pot-lucks, birthday parties, picnics, bake sales or any event you need a portable sweet that can feed tons of people. And it’s especially appealing in the summer as you can mix it by hand and it only takes 30 minutes to bake. It’s quick and easy and it won’t make you all hot and bothered though overexertion or an oven that’s been on for too long.

texas sheet cakeSo how did it get its name? Nobody really knows. Most say it’s called Texas sheet cake because of the size of the thing, though it’s not that big. Others have said that the Texan part of its moniker stems from its popularity within the state, though I reckon you can find chocolate sheet cake just about anywhere. Then there has been speculation that a long time ago, a Texan sugar or flour company printed a sheet-cake recipe on a package and added the word "Texas" to make it more appealing. That may be true, but I have yet to find evidence of which sugar or flour producer committed this act, thus making that theory a bit suspect. And to add more confusion to the name’s origin, let’s not forget those who call it Texas sheath cake. Perhaps that colloquialism refers to how the cake covers your knife as you slice it, but I believe that’s a stretch. Most likely, the term sheath is just another case of your typical Texan malapropism. But no matter what it's called, I adore it and it was the only cake I ate as a kid. In fact, Texas sheet cake was so ubiquitous in my life, I didn’t even know there were round layer cakes until I was older.

This moist, fine-crumbed cake is always made with cocoa and buttermilk, but recipes vary in if they call for shortening, butter or, as the one in my possession, Oleo. (I’ve never even seen Oleo, but I think it’s margarine.) And one of the hallmarks of the cake is that the icing is always poured on right when you take the cake out of the oven, making for a slick, shiny and slightly runny topping. So depending on how fast you work, you can usually whip this up in under 40 minutes, which makes it perfect for those steamy summer days when you don’t want to spend too much time laboring in the kitchen.

In celebration of her June birthday, Meeta’s hosting a big birthday bang for her Monthly Mingle. And since this is such a terrific summertime party dessert, I thought I’d share my birthday cake with her. I used my grandmother’s old recipe, substituting butter for the Oleo and I spiced it up a bit with 1 teaspoon of ancho powder. But other than those slight modifications this is the same tasty cake I’ve eaten all my life, an old and familiar friend.

texas sheet cakeHappy birthday to all my fellow June babies (if I missed anyone, I apologize). Now pour yourself a glass of milk and let's dig in! Whether you’re feeding a crowd or just a few, this soft, heavenly cake is certain to make everyone’s mouth sing with joy.

Texas Sheet Cake

Ingredients:
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of flour
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
4 tablespoons of cocoa
1 cup of water
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ancho chile powder (optional)

Method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sift the sugar and flour together in a bowl.
Melt the butter on low in a saucepan, and when melted add cocoa and water and heat until boiling.
Pour cocoa mix over sugar and flour and mix well with a spoon.
Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda and chile powder, and mix well with a spoon.
Pour batter into greased 9x13 inch pan, and bake for about 30 minutes, checking it at 20 minutes.
Pour icing (recipe to follow) over cake when you take it out of the oven.

Texas Sheet Cake Icing
Ingredients:
1 stick of butter
4 tablespoons of cocoa
6 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of chopped pecans
1 box (1 pound) of powdered sugar

Method:
Five minutes before cake is done, bring to a boil the butter, cocoa and milk.
Remove from heat, and mix in sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nuts.
Beat well, and then spread over cake while both are still warm.

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110 comments:

Lyn said...

Ah!! Texas sheet cake. We just had one brought to us from a very nice older lady in town. We were having our first family get together since my mother in law passed and this little lady caught wind of it. She made my mother in law's recipe that my MIL had given to this little lady some 40 years ago when they first became neighbors. Yes, sheet cake is comfort and memories to those in Texas!

Lyn

Luisa said...

Happy Birthday! I always wished I'd been born in June instead of December - just think of the possibilities for celebrating! Afternoon picnics, midnight scavenger hunts, anything other than sitting indoors while it snows outside! :) Have a lovely time celebrating.

Lydia said...

Happy birthday! This cake looks amazing -- I think I'll make this for my cooking group's birthday later this month. I love any cake that can be mixed by hand.

Kalyn said...

Happy birthday to you and all the other June birthday folks. Of course I think June is the best month of the year (which may have more to do with summer vacation from school than all your birthdays, but nevertheless, I LOVE June. We had Texas sheet cake all the time when I was a kid growing up, and I even heard it called that, although this was in Utah so maybe it was Utah sheet cake.

Sam said...

Happy Birthday! I Love my June birthday and my split gemini personality.

Usually I spend my birthday cooking things for other people to enjoy but this year I said 'enough'! and for my party on Saturday I will only be featuring the wares of local artisans instead.

And I even ordered myself a birthday cake for the actual day from our local organic patisserie. I felt a bit stupid when they asked me 'who's it for?' and I had to say 'me'. I have never been so self indulgent before, but I can tell you, even in the planning stages it feels pretty good!

Melissa said...

Happy Birthday Lisa! I almost wish I had a birthday coming up so that I'd have an excuse to whip up one of these beauties myself. Seeing as I've never technically had a Texas sheet cake, it would fit my birthday specifications perfectly. Funny how that works, huh? :)

By the way, is the cinnamon traditional?

christina said...

Oleo is margarine. :)

We had this cake every year for my dad's birthday.

Jerry said...

Happy Birthday, Lady. Here's wishing you many, many more happy years on this little rock with us.

I'd say I fall into the latter group as well. I haven't had a "party" for my birthday since I was a kid, and am generally ecstatic if I just receive a few phone calls or a card or two.

Have a Wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! and many more to all you June babies.

My family has served this at every gathering since before I was born. Aunt Myrtle would poke holes in the cake so the icing would run down into it. Mmmmm. Put a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream and you are really close to heaven.

My sister made it at Easter with a twist. She added espresso at some point. It was very good.

Hope your day is filled with serenity and joy!

Texann

wheresmymind said...

I feel fortunate that my wife makes all sorts of cakes :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Happy Birthday, Lisa!!
I'm pretty recent here but I'm already a big fan.
Your cake looks and sounds delightful!

Meeta said...

Happy Birthday to all of us June babies. We are the luckiest ones to have been born in this gorgeous month. Lisa, this is such a delish looking dessert. I also thank you for joining us at the mingle. I love it when you come over ;-)

Ladygrande said...

This is one of those recipes that has been in many of the church cookbooks since the 1950's. And of course it's a Texas recipe!! These Texas churchladies really know how to put on a Sunday afternoon meetin'.

Homesick Texan said...

Lyn--Texas sheet cakes are very comforting and timeless.

Luisa--Yep, I've probably done all of those at one time or another for my birthday, but who says you need a birthday to throw a midnight scavenger hunt?

Lydia--Thank you! It's super easy to make and the batter is very smooth and easy to stir.

Kalyn--How can you not love June? It's just such a lovely, hopeful month--long days, mild weather and everything's in bloom. And that's cool you ate this cake growing up...I knew that it wasn't just served in Texas.

Sam--Yep, I love being a Gemini as well--it gives me grand excuses for being completely unpredictable and for buying two of everything. Your party sounds like it's going to be lovely...happy birthday!

Melissa--Who needs a birthday as an excuse to bake a cake? And yes, since you've never technically had one, it does meet your requirements. Plus it's a cinch to make so you can concentrate on just enjoying your friends and family. The cinnamon was listed on my grandma's very old recipe so I reckon it is traditional.

Christina--Your lucky dad!

Jerry--Thank you! I don't want my birthday to go completely unnoticed, but too much attention makes me feel sort of shy.

Texann--I love the idea of poking holes so the frosting dribbles down, I'll have to try that! And yes, Texas sheet cake is the perfect vehicle for ice cream!

Wheresmymind--You are very fortunate! What would life be like without cake?

Patricia--Welcome, and thank you!

Meeta--We are indeed very lucky, it's such a wonderful time of year. And I can't wait to see what everyone else brings to your monthly mingle!

Ladygrande--Three cheers for the churchladies and their fine, fine food!

The County Clerk said...

Happy Birthday Lady!

Many happy returns of the day!

H

koryshar said...

Happy Birthday, Girl!!

This is the exact recipe that my husband's grandmother uses with one exception. She adds 1/3 c karo to her butter and cocoa mixture while it is melting/boiling for her icing. She says that "it makes for a purty, glossy icin'." One time she made it and toasted her pecans before incorporating them into the icing and it was really good. Also she said to me on Saturday that someone brought her one that allowed the cake to cool slightly, then spread over peanut butter and then poured over the freshly made icing and she said it was very delicious and gooey. You'll have to try these versions sometime. I have never had one with the chili powder, but will be trying that with Sunday supper for sure!!

Tim said...

I never heard anyone say that June is a good month for birthdays until now.
I guess that makes me feel better that my birthday is in June.
But this should be a mad hatter un-birthday cake instead. That way you can have it everyday. Why limit it to your birthday? :P

Jerry said...

Happy Birthday Lisa! As a fellow Texan, I don't think I have had this so called "Texas sheet cake." And I've lived in Texas for 16 years. Hmm. Maybe I've had it and now known it. Who knows?! Hope its a good one. Eat a slice for me.

gryphon773 said...

Lisa,
This was a staple at any family gathering in OK. Either my grandmother, my mom, or one of her sisters always made it. I will always be one of my favorites.

Happy Birthday!

David
gryphon773@yahoo.com

AdamH said...

Happy birthday, hoss! I should've sent you a Patsified! card. :D Were I closer to NYC, I'd come on in, sit right down, and bake a Texas sheet cake just for you!

O'Dub said...

This reminds me of a funny story (at least it was funny to me!) and finally provides an explanation for what happened and why. As you said, you didn't see a round layer cake until later in life; I think that's common for many Texans. As you also know, you cut a Texas sheet cake into squares, and a round cake into slices.

When I was a youngster (sophomore) at the Naval Academy there was a plebe (freshman) that caught max grief at dinner one night. One of the tasks assigned to a plebe at dinner was if dessert was cake (always a round layer cake) to cut the cake into 12 (number of people at the table) equal slices. I think you can see where I'm going with this.

Well, this plebe was a fresh faced young man from Texas. He was assigned by the firsties (seniors) to cut the cake. No one was paying attention, and it wasn't until he was finished that everyone noticed that he had cut the round layer cake like one would cut a sheet cake. Yep, it was cut into something like 16 equal sized square pieces! Of course with a round cake cut up like a chess board, not all the pieces were really the same size.

The amount of grief he received was huge. Needless to say one thing that a plebe never wants to do is draw attention to himself. For several days he got a lot of unwanted attention. His classmates were probably a little relieved, and that left less time for the upperclass to pay attention to the other plebes.

I've never forgotten that incident, even though it happened in 1973, and finally have a good explanation of why it happened!

Happy Birthday!

Luna said...

I grew up in Michigan and we made this cake, also called Texas Sheet Cake all the time. My brother and I would get in trouble for eating so much, and my mom would always know how many pieces were there. So, instead of cutting a whole 'nuther piece, we'd cut a 1/4 inch off the cut sides... we called it "trimming" the cake!

O'Dub said...

Considering the title of your post, my birthday wishes for you are more correctly stated as:

They say it's your birthday,
We're gonna have a good time,
I'm glad it's your birthday,
Happy Birthday to you!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Happy birthday!

Wow, that cake is a killer one! Very scrumptious looking and fudgy to please...

Homesick Texan said...

Hank--Why thank you sir!

Koryshar--I am swooning about your peanut butter idea--I will definitely have to try that next time.

Tim--Happy birthday! And you're right, cake is good anytime, not just on birthdays.

Jerry--I can't believe you've never had this. Well, you'll have to try it, it's quick and delicious!

David--Why am I not surprised? Isn't it tasty?

AdamH---Aren't you sweet? Thank you!

O'Dub--I am laughing so hard, that is a hilarious story! That poor plebe! But I can totally sympathize with his plight. And thanks for the song!

Luna--Ha! I used to do the same thing!

Rosa--Thank you! It's indeed a killer cake!

Linda said...

Hello Texan girl!It was great to read your blog and all the birthdays in June.Happy Birthday to you and thanks for sharing those yummy photos and recipes.You are too good:)

Cynthia said...

I'm a day late but nevertheless, Happy Birthday to you!

My birthday is this month too and like you, I am more contemplative about it and I stick with familiar dishes.

Jenny said...

This is the ONLY cake recipe I have used for years. Need a yellow cake? leave out the cocoa, need a white cake? leave out the cocoa and the egg yolks. nee a spice cake? add them. I've done just about anything one can do to this cake to mess it up and it works anyway. I've even added the eggs after the cake was in the pan and I realized I had forgotten them. I just beat them up and mixed them in with a fork.
I first knew of this cake as Aunt Ollies chocolate cake. (Aunt Ollie was the aunt of a friend of my sister's) When we pass the recipe around we append the givers name to the title. Soooo we have Sara's friend Selena's Mom Jenny's sister Laura's friend Peg's Aunt Ollie's Chocolate Cake. And a belated Happy Birthday btw...

Susan said...

Happy Birthday, Lisa! Thank goodness you don't have to be from Texas to enjoy this cake. It looks supremely fudgy, which is just the way I like it.

Eddie Ortiz said...

Belated happy birthday. Mine is today (turning 21 for the 12th time)! Oh, you've sparked delicious memories from my childhood. I was born, raised (and still live) in San Antonio. One of my earliest pastry memories is that of my mom baking a decadent sheet cake. I must've been 5 or something. It was a while before I discovered round layer cakes, but that's another story :-)Thanks. --Eddie

ladyiris said...

I just found your blog and I LOVE IT!!! I almost cried -- I am a recently transplated native Texan to North Carolina -- and I do miss the Motherland!!!

Kate said...

Happy belated birthday! I love birthdays now that I am older, but I used to not like to celebrate them at all!!

Olivia said...

I could say I've never had sheet cake, despite spending 15 years in the north and south of the great state o' Texas - but seeing the pics now, how are they different to brownies???

By the way, I may have been born in early April, but my due date was mid June, so I get two birthday parties :) (Like the Queen, LOL)

Helen said...

Happy belated birthday!
Your post made me grin from ear to ear. I just had a birthday and like you I gravitate towards comfort, with a nice dinner with close friends. But the next day, I make a list of "new" things I want to try in the year.
I also smiled when I read "oleo", my mother in law is a born and bred south carolinian and all of her recipes have the word oleo. She still calls margarine that. As an expat, I cringe but I laugh too.
Texas sheet cake, French dark choc. cake..who knows who comes up with these names when there is no particular ingredient or technique that defines them as such.
Looks fantastic!

Culinary Cowgirl said...

Oh, I just love Texas Sheet Cake. It's not too sweet thanks to the buttermilk...and the kick of spices just rounds it out. My SIL makes it...and I am always begging for it!

Happy Birthday! (June is a busy month here too...husband, FIL, brother and niece...so many birthdays!)

Freya and Paul said...

Happy Birthday Lisa, a great article to go with a delicious sounding cake - looks almost like a giant brownie! And I love your addition of ancho chilli.
Hope you enjoyed all of your cake!!

Homesick Texan said...

Linda--Thanks and you're very welcome!

Cynthia--Happy birthday! Enjoy your day!

Jenny--Yep, it's the perfect cake, my mom did the same thing, modifying it to be either yellow or white. And that name is quite a mouthful, but it's fun knowing the recipe's origin.

Susan--Thanks! It's very fudgy and you're right, its deliciousness knows no boundaries!

Eddie--Happy birthday! Seems sheet cake was many a Texan family's favorite.

Ladyiris--Welcome! It's hard being away from the food we grew up with, isn't it? At least they have bbq in North Carolina.

Kate--That's a refreshing switch, it seems most people dislike birthdays as they get older. But it just keeps getting better, doesn't it?

Olivia--It's a light and moist cake whereas brownies tend to be more dense. And happy birthday times 2 to you! How fun you celebrate it twice!

Helen--Glad I made you smile! O my recipes from my grandma, they also all call for Oleo, if they're not calling for lard.

Culinary Cowgirl--Yep, the buttermilk curbs the sweetness and the spices add depth. It's good stuff! And happy birthday to all your family! That's a lot of partying going on!

Freya and Paul--Thank you! I'd throw ancho powder into everything if I could! And yes, the cake was well enjoyed!

Nicole said...

Happy belated birthday!! The cake looks wonderful! I was always jealous of those with birthdays during the warmer months. The parties always seemed more fun...pool parties, etc. Mine's in November :-)

Garrett said...

We gemini's need to stick together and put a sheet cake in it's place. ;)

Tommy said...

Everyone has told you how wonderful this cake is, but, isn't it a bit on the sweet side ?

Even those supermarket yellow slab birthday cakes don't have as much sugar in them.

Maybe Texans like heavy desserts I guess.

Happy belated Birthday though.

Jerry said...

Hey i know this has nothing to do with the post but you got to read it about Las Manitas.
http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/06/07/7lasmanitas.html

Tea said...

Wow, it's a birthday party over here in your comments section! A very happy day to you, I hope it was lovly. I'm with Luisa--I'd trade my December B-day in for June any time. Sometimes, when annoyed with yet another birthday upstaged by Christmas, I consider celebrating my half birthday--which would be June 17th. Can I have into the June babies club? I'd even settle for just a piece of that cake:-)

ljane said...

Yep, this my Grandma's recipe also . . . although I'm from Montana and she was from Pennsylvania - but this is a mainstay. It is what I alway make when I find out an hour before dinner that company is coming . . .

willowcaroline said...

Every summer, on Lake Travis, we had a large family reunion. Back in the days where kids ran around all day in bathing suits and no sunscreen - red and rosy by days end - and there was an endless supply of watermelons from the valley (we ate ours with salt sprinkled on it), tea, beer (with a bit of salt sprinkled on it as well) and the table of desserts. Texas Sheet cake was an all time favorite - topped with pecans my great grandmother would pick up and store in her freezer. I was planning to make it this fathers day for our campout!

I enjoy reading your blog - as a native Texan now calling NC my home, I miss some of the food and flavors - especially the BBQ - but I must confess to enjoying the seasons of NC! Thanks for the trips down memory lane your blog provides!

Rev. Biggles said...

Aw, crud. I missed your favorite month by ... a few days. Meathenge turned this many (4) May 29th. I haven't made a post yet, I'm getting there.

Rev. Biggles

Anonymous said...

I have made this cake a million times and it always gets raves.

Happy Birthday!! What a perfect cake to have when you cannot be here in Texas to celebrate.

Jan

christine (myplateoryours) said...

Ooops. I've been on the road and it looks like I am late to this (birthday) party. Thanks for the good wishes and hope yours was splendid!

Homesick Texan said...

Nicole--Summer birthdays are fun, but as a kid I was always a bit sad because school was out and I missed having a classroom party with cupcakes.

Garrett--Happy birthday, my fellow gemini!

Tommy--It's a pretty standard recipe, and the buttermilk tempers the sweetness, but you're welcome to cut the sugar if you like.

Jerry--Thanks for the link. I hope Las Manitas can stay open.

Tea--Happy half birthday! Afterall, it's just a day, so celebrate whenever you like!

ljane--It is indeed the perfect quick cake.

Willowcaroline--I love watermelon with salt sprinkled on it! What a lovely memory! And yep, no outdoor gathering is complete without sheet cake!

Rev. Biggles--Happy blog birthday to Meathenge, and may there be many more!

Jan--Thank you! And it's a splendid way to celebrate!

Christine--No worries, there's still a slice of birthday cake with your name on it!

ann said...

Happy Birthday Lisa!
what a nice cake to make yourself. I usually give myself clams for my birthday... Weird, but it makes me happy!
I've never seen oleo outside of a NYTimes crossword puzzle, so I think you did the right thing by subbing in the butter. Plus, as Paul would say, Everything's better with Butter!

Olivia said...

Oh, and brownies don't contain chile powder...yum. Every now and then I like to buy dark chocolates with chile...like that in the movie Chocolat

Yvo said...

Lovely lovely looking cake and happy belated birthday my dear!!! Will I see you next week at the NYC Foodie gathering- I'd love to buy you a drink!

Frank said...

My birthday is the day of the Austin Hot Sauce Festival, so I hope you can make it down to help me celebrate with 500+ hot sauces!
Frank

Robin said...

Happy Birthday! Isn't June just the most fantastic month to be born into!?

I love you blog!

Robin said...

I meant "your" blog in my last comment. I'm not crazy enough to be talking directly to the blog. Not crazy enough.. yet.

Ronnie said...

Thanks so much for the birthday wishes. Belated back at you. I am just catching up on my blog reading (and hopefully writing!). One of the reasons-a wonderful birthday celebration at http://blackberryfarm.com, where besides an idyllic setting, the food is absolutely divine.

Vanessa said...

Lisa, this is my all-time favorite cake ever. I simply cannot imagine life without texas sheet cake. Everyone knows there are 2 schools, cinnamon or not, but I like your addition of ancho chili. Our family devours a complete cake in 2 hours...those boys just keep coming back for more.

koryshar said...

I asked my husband's grandmother about the peanut butter and she said it called for 1 1/2 c. I allowed the cake to cool for about 10 mins (I made my icing during the cooling). I heated the pb in the microwave until pourable consistency and then allowed it to cool for 10 minutes after pouring it over the cake. I drizzled my slightly cooled icing over the peanutbutter and it gave a marbled effect b/c I didn't try to spread it. Although the cake is for dinner I couldn't resist one bite from the corner and it was FABULOUS! You've gotta try it!

dumbfounded homesick houstonian said...

Weird. This is the first time I have no idea what you're talking about. I've only known three home made birthday cakes in texas: box mix yellow cake, ice box jello pudding cake, and tres leches.

This recipe sounds delicious, even if it is unfamiliar.

dawn said...

happy belated birthday.
texas sheet cake really does rock the freaking casbah.

great post, girlita.

Sprittibee said...

Good stuff! This one is in every family recipe book I have ever owned. ;) Sure wish I was going to make it to those family reunions this month in the Lone-Star State. :(

Still waiting on news....

Pille said...

Happy Birthday! Apologies for the delay - I was in Scotland for a week. Texas Sheet Cake looks like a great birthday cake indeed!

Homesick Texan said...

Ann--There's nothing weird about making yourself happy...as a clam! (Sorry, I couldn't resist). And yes, everything is better with butter.

Olivia--Dark chocolate with chiles is my favorite. I was surprised when I saw it so often in Italy because I thought it was just a Mexican/So. American thing, but I reckon the marriage of chocolate and chiles is universal.

Yvo--Thank you, my dear! I hope to make it and look forward to meeting you!

Frank--Yee haw! What a great way to spend your birthday--I can't wait to join you!

Robin--Thank you! It is a wonderful month! And you can talk directly to the blog, I don't think it minds.

Ronnie--I've always wanted to have a holiday at Blackberry Farm, what a wonderful way to spend your birthday!

Vanessa--Wow! You've got some hearty eaters! And yes, I can't imagine life without it too.

Koryshar--I will definitely try it--thanks for sharing the technique! I love the marbled effect, so attractive and inviting.

Dumbfounded HH--That's a shame you've never had it, but you should remedy that and try it!

Dawn--Why thank you!

Sprittibee--It's perfect for family reunions. Still have my fingers crossed that y'all can go home!

Pille--Oh....Scotland! I've never been but am eager to go. Can't wait to hear about your trip!

Olivia said...

I bought dark chile chocolates (with chile flakes on top, but I scraped them off) in a shop here in London called Montezuma. Very nice.

Amy said...

Happy Birthday! The cake looks so moist and delicious! The chocolate and chilies combo is very cool.

Traci said...

Happy birthday! Can't think of a better way to celebrate than with a yummy sheet cake. My grandma used to make them a lot when I was a kid. I should start, now :)

Tommy said...

Dumbfounded in Houston mentions tres leches cake.

Is this something that Texans favour as part of their dessert dreams ?

I am a hoser CDN that has not been exposed to the wonders of sweet milk although more and more we are starting to get tantalized by it.
Flay took on Mark Israel of the Donut Plant on Throwdown and gotted his clock cleaned by Israel's dulce des leches donut.

Jeez last trip to the US, I grabbed a Krispy Kreme dulces de leches version that was pretty good.

Even Rick Bayliss talks about it with reverence. Can you plan something around this little tin of magic sometime in the future ?

Chef JP said...

I knew an old gal back in Texas in the 60's who used to make a sheet cake like this. She usually mixed in a little heavy cream with the buttermilk, tho'. chefjp

Backyard Chef said...

Happy belated, Lisa!

So nice that you stopped by the block party. It was great to meet you. Sorry if I was a little dazed-- it was a looooong weekend. Bourbon kept away all the aches until around noon on Sunday.

Anywho....I look forward to seeing your pictures, and catching up on your gorgeous blog....

Best,

Matt

Homesick Texan said...

Olivia--At a place called Montezuma, how could you not buy chile chocolate? Sounds delish!

Amy--Thanks!

Traci--You should indeed start now! It's so simple and chocolaty good!

Tommy--Yes, tres leches cakes are very popular in Texas. I've never made dulce de leche myself, but am eager to try. I'll definitely post about it!

Chef JP--That's a good idea, though the cake is already pretty rich.

Backyard Chef--It was lovely meeting you as well! Hope to see you again soon. I'm going to Hill Country on Sunday--I can't wait! If those ribs you gave me are any indication, it's going to be fab!

Tommy said...

OK, I couldn't wait for you. I tried all over the Internet for a recipe for dulce des leches and pretty much struck out. I know the base is cans of sweetened condensed milk that has been "cooked" so that the leches becomes "caramelized". I did learn that many types of milk can be used including goat's, sheep's and of course the cow.

I think I heard once that dulce is achieved by slow simmering the opened cans for hours in a covered saucepan. You can't bruise the sweet milk with direct or high heat.

I went to he supermarket and learned that they had about 5-6 brands. Many were Carribbean based as the Islanders use it on everything.
I stayed away from the budget brand (China).

I will let you know after I fire my first lot how it turned out.I think I am in for a let down though.

Ivonne said...

I can 't believe I missed your birthday! I'm glad you got over your shyness and did announce it. How else would I be able to send you a huge belated birthday hug!

Homesick Texan said...

Tommy--Can't wait to hear how it turns out for you!

Ivonne--No worries! You're so sweet!

Tommy said...

tex,

It was a semi success. I put one can of the condensed milk in a sauce pan and covered most of the can with water. I lifted the tin top slightly as I know a can might blow up when heated.

I must have simmered it for at least 3 1/2 hours on real low heat.

After this time, I took it off the element, took the tin lid completely off and prodded around. Only the top 1" or so had not started to caramelize and the bottom of the tin was nicely turned in color. I mixed it all together to combine into a nice lite brown color.

The taste was magnificient. I can see why people eat whole jars of the stuff. I took it out of the can and put into Glad container and will play around with it tonight.

The next time, I will take the lid off completely and stir the contents of the can(s)to ensure the milk is cooked through top/bottom.


This is one seriously good confection.

Homesick Texan said...

Tommy, you should start a food blog to document your culinary adventures! In any case, I need to try this at home--soon! I love dulce de leche, especially over ice cream or in crepes.

Mae said...

I'm so bad. I can't believe i missed your birthday. Here i am trying to catch up what i have missed and... :(

It's still June so i guess it's not too late to wish you a belated happy birthday? :)

xxx

Homesick Texan said...

Mae--Thank you, my dear! It's never too late--it just keeps the party going!

Tommy said...

Tex,

I am too busy these days to start my own food blog, but I am highly appreciative of your efforts.I shudder to think how much time you put into this blog.

I think I will just enjoy your's and a few other blogs to get my daily dose of food facts.

The dulce des leches was a dream. I urge to start simmering a few cans soon.

Anonymous said...

wow. I am making the cake right now, and while we have Texas Sheet Cake for EVERY birthday, and every time we have the slightest opportunity, I have never heard of the hole-poking method. It will be sampled today!

Anyway, thought I'd share that I grew up in Texas, near Dallas. The woman who babysat for us also baked and ironed (Who thinks those were the good old days?!?) Her name was Ruby Eitel, but everyone called her Eitel-Pronounced Idol with a drawl. We loved Eitel cake and thus the birthday tradition was begun.

I was 24 before someone else made Eitel cake and learned that Eitel was not alone in the glory that can be had by sharing Eitel cake with others! Happy birthday to you, as we are celebrating my stepson's 18th today.

BEAR said...

On your Texas Choclate Sheath Cake, I've been making that raskell for nye on 40 years now. I have made two modifications to it that always get me good comments. (1) I use strong black coffee instead of water in the cake. (2) Instead of vanilla extract (which as you know is just a flavoring and has no other purpose)I use Jack Daniels as a substitue in the cake and the fudge frosting. Other times I use Bailey's Irish Creme or Kahlua or whatever pops into my mind. Tastes great.

Another thing, going back to Chicken Fried Steak, in old Austin, over thirty years ago, north of 45th street, (and across the street to the west of where the first mall was built)used to be a restaurant/drive-in that the UT football players used to go to. I think it was called the Stallion. I would go in there for Chicken Fried Steak at lunch or dinner. You could get a short stack (2 steaks high) or a tall stack, (3 to 5 steaks high); like pancakes. Mmmm good. In northwest Houston off of old U.S. 290 was a place called "Hickory Hollow". they served 3 sizes of Chicken Fried Steak. The small hung off of a 10" pizza platter, the middle hung off of a 16" pizza platter, and the largest, was stacked in layers on top of the 16" pizza platter, came with 4 one-pound bakers (baked potato), salad, and a quart of creme gravy. I once got one of those with 4 extra bakers and fed 16 people at a pool party. Now I am really getting homesick. 'Cuse me while I go cook some brisket. BEAR (bearslighthouse@frii.com)

Central Texas Mom said...

This was my sister's signature cake. She made chocolate sheath cake and buttermilk pie. I made apple pie and divinity. It wasn't until I had children that I started making this cake.

My mom's name for it is "Bride's Delight" because (even though it ALWAYS comes out good) it turns out to be a different dish every time. It can be high and fluffy. It can be almost like brownies. Much depends on the humidity and the ATTENTION the cook is paying to the enterprise (hmmm, could have something to do with the children as well).

Try it with the new richer cocoa powders. If you don't have buttermilk try it with milk "soured" with vinegar or lemon juice. Try it with different kinds of flour (to make it "healthy" - yeah, right).

And you can easily double the recipe to have one cake for you and one to give away.


This was always the fastest "goodie" to make for my students/staff or to carry to welcome a new neighbor

AT said...

After seeing this, I HAD to have sheet cake for my birthday last weekend. Except I know it as Mexican Chocolate Cake!

Ginny said...

@ Tommy:

Look online for "Tres Leches Cake."

Angela said...

Tommy - my grandmother in Oklahoma used to occasionally cook a can of condensed milk in her pressure cooker (!) to make caramel. I don't remember her using it for a recipe, we would just sit it in the middle of the table and eat spoonfuls of the warm caramel. The only sound around the table was "mmmmmmmm"!

Angela said...

I am required to make this cake for every family holiday out here in Virginia. One year at Christmas I made a different chocolate cake out of Southern Living and I was practically booed out of the house! I call it Wilson School Cake because the cooks at my elementary school in Oklahoma served this every Friday. Hard to believe school cafeterias used to make their food from scratch every day!

Anonymous said...

Happy belated Birthday - an elderly lady once told me that the cake was called a "sheath" cake because if you ate too much of it you couldn't fit into your "sheath dress" (a popular dress design at one time). This Native Texas totally enjoys your blog - makes me think of, and appreciate, things about Texas that I take for granted. JB

Anonymous said...

Love this cake! I'm a native far West Texan and these were a staple in life at every event known to man! We also call them 22 min cakes. They are delicious! Add a scoop of homemade ice cream and pure heaven. :)

pineywoods said...

So I know I'm about 2 years late to this post, but I'm a newbie to the Homesick Texan - just discovered it yesterday and LOVE it. From Southeast Texas but I have been in KC for about 4 years now.

I have to tell you this cake is delish! I won a Texas-themed baking contest with a similar recipe a few years ago. Definitely worth a try if you've never had it.

Booka said...

This is the chocolate cake that we San Antonio Independent School District kids got every Wednesday in the cafeteria. The entree was enchiladas, served with rice and beans. Yep...Wednesdays rocked!

Thank you for the recipe!

Vanessa said...

I could go out of my mind with all the recipes on here. I am from Florida, and all of my people are from North Florida, which has more in common with parts of Texas than it does with most of the rest of Florida. These recipes call to me. I see on your blog so many of the wonderful things my Grandmother and Aunts made, that I never realized were so special until I moved to NY and suddenly missed them. I like this kind of thing. I clicked on this recipe only to be transported back to my younger days. I had no idea this cake was called Texas Sheet Cake. We just always seemed to have this around at lots of events, along with the cheese straws, deviled eggs and coconut cakes. Yum. Thank you!

tom | tall clover farm said...

Not to get all fancy pants on ya here, but I took this recipe and made a three layer cake out of it. I added the icing in each round, then place each layer on top of the other layer and assembled the whole thing as one cake. It was so heavy that I worried my cakeplate would topple or crumble under the weight of such decadence (and indifference to healthy eating).

Sure makes a fine cake whether in a sheet or in three layers.

oh one other thing--Texas sheet cake is a vehichle for pecans in my book, so I add those to the icing.

Homesick in KC said...

I love this cake-my grandmother from Wharton used to make it. She called it "Lady Bird cake"? Think I'll make it for our Labor Day party.

robynk said...

I have read that it's sometimes called a "sheath cake" because it's baked in a "sheath" pan - better known as a rectangular 9x13x2-inch baking dish.

Mali from Austin said...

Lisa-
The recipe I have from the Austin Heritage Cook Book is called The Driskill's 1886 Room Chocolate Sheet Cake. I make it all the time and it hits the spot w/the glass of milk you mention. The addition of the ancho chile powder is something I can't wait to try.
Love, love your site and send it to all my Texas friends who live abroad.
Cheers!!!

Maria said...

This is a fantastic website; I'm spending 3 months in texas (orange, tx, right by the border to LA) and almost anything foodwise is explained here. Like this cake. Our first dinner cooked by a texan had this, I'd swear, for dessert. I so wanted the recipe, but didn't get a chance to ask...lucky for me, now I have it.

By the way, Oleo was a Crisco forerunner. My mom told me when I was little that they were the same and, while I now doubt that, we always substitute Crisco. Almost margarine. And I usually just use butter for all three, at this point.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read every comment here, but so far haven't seen anyone else mention that they make it in a jelly roll pan (now known as a cookie sheet with sides). This is a go-to for my family (8 generations of Texans now scattered world wide). Glad to see it works to cook in a 9x13, as that cookie sheet is hard to handle for potlucks!

The Cannary's, est. 1985 said...

I actually googled the recipe and stumbled upon your bog - yes, I call it sheath cake...I'm so ashamed...however, I'm making it soon for my Kansas transplant friend at work who has never heard of it. She will swoon... Does that redeem me?

Anonymous said...

I love your recipes. I am a Homesick Texan also, situated in the DC area for now. My husband is military, so we move about every three years. My ultimate goal is to retire that man in Texas.....we have about six more years to go! I am going to make this cake for my husband so that he can taste a little slice of heaven on earth. It is my way of nudging him gently towards putting roots down in Texas...through his belly! My grandma used to make a Texas Sheet Cake with Dr. Pepper. Is it possible to substitute DP for the water? Thanks for all of the fabulous recipes!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--I've never done that, but I think the substitution of Dr Pepper for water could work.

Kellye said...

Hey!
Love your blog! I'm a Native Texan living in Chicago and seriously missing all things Texas. I have a quick question for you. My mom and I used to make this all of the time but we can't find her recipe and we are trying to find a replacement. Now, we have always made this without flour. Does that sound odd or doable? As far as I can tell the recipe is the same but we didn't use flour. Have you heard of this?
Thanks!!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kellye--Nope, never heard of that.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother made this for me (in San Antonio) and now I make it for my grandkids--they think it is the best cake in the world! It's what they always ask for on their birthdays.

Elizabeth said...

If this is the cake my aunt from Temple in Texas has been making since forever and I've never known the recipe. I'm going to die happy.
Will be making very soon!

Kathie B said...

This was our family cake,but with LOTS of fresh pecans in the icing. So delish!

Kathie B said...

Oh, and to the lady who thought it was called SHEATH cake, it is!!! Interchangeable. We called it both in our family, but usually Sheath Cake. That's what our old recipe books used, but guess what. It tastes just as fabulous no matter what you call it.

Lisa, just thrilled to find your awesome blog. I am living in Canada now, but miss my Texas like crazy. So, I bathe myself with everything Texas as much as I can. YOu're now on the top of that list. It's just so different in the 'north'....just sayin'. : )

Anonymous said...

Renee in Texas.
I came across your website while searching for the best carnita recipe. Made yours yesterday with tomatillo salsa. Was in heaven while eating! Am going to try Ninfa's green sauce next
Growing up, my Mom would make Texas Sheet Cake and bring to families of a recent departed member. My brothers and I dubbed it 'funeral cake.' Mom's recipe came from her mother who grew up in Tyler. I add 1 tablespoon of instant expresso in the batter and icing. Gives it a mexican twist.

kk said...

Hi, I'm a Houstonian living in Madison, Wi right now. I was recently at my neighbor's house (a fellow texan) and he had your cookbook sitting on the counter. I looked through it page by page and by the end was in tears! I told my husband, "I feel like this woman knows me". I had just made a texas sheet cake - practically an identical recipe to yours - the previous week. you have all the right Tex-Mex recipes and Kolaches! my family is tex-czech and my grandmother always had Kolaches around the house. made my week!
thanks
katie

carrie said...

I love Texas sheet cake... and Ir realize I am quite late to this post...but I was wondering if you think it would work to make 2 small circle sheet cakes and stack them? Thank you! Love your blog - Its my go to.
Carrie

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Carrie--I've never done that, so I can't say if it would work or not, but you could certainly try! I'd just keep an eye on them and probably bake them for less time.

Anonymous said...

Just my opinion, but I think my cake turns out moister when I sub sour cream for the buttermilk.... I also bake mine in a large jellyroll pan to speed up the whole process. Usually takes 15-20 minutes for the cake to bake....

Shesha said...

My grandma's version calls for Oleo and as much as I love her I still use butter instead of margarine. And we bake it in a sheet cake pan .... i think its a better frosting to cake ratio that way. Its a cake everybody loves and asks the recipe for. We've always eaten it with chopped pecans on top fourth of July with fresh peaches and homemade vanilla ice cream.

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