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A dessert to please a Texas-size sweet tooth

Texas sheet cake is a popular dessert that's easy to make and serves a crowd. According to an article sent by Robin Smith, "No one's quite sure how it got its name, but Beverly Bundy, food editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, thinks it has something to do with size.

"I've never done a genealogical study of the cake," she writes, "but my assumption is that it's called a "Texas' sheet cake because, as we say in Fort Worth, it's as big as Dallas."

Joyce Goralski shared a recipe that appeared in the St. Petersburg Times several years ago; it included this comment: "This cake has many variations. Some cooks add cinnamon; some use buttermilk or sour milk instead of sour cream; some use butter, some margarine, some use half margarine and half shortening and some use part vegetable oil. Whatever your choice, enjoy making and serving this favorite dessert."

For: Connie Kugler of Palm Harbor.

From: Janet Raymond of St. Petersburg, Mary Kay Mendoza of Oldsmar, Elizabeth Killion of Homosassa, Donna Juhl of Belleair, Gale ZaBorac of Seminole, Janet Tullis of Tierra Verde, Joan Kirschner of Treasure Island, Connie Kugler of Palm Harbor, Agnes Toler of Clearwater, Joyce Cutlip of Largo, Barbara Swafford of Dunedin, Joyce Dudy of Spring Hill and many more.

Recipe: Texas Sheet Cake with buttermilk.

Texas Sheet Cake

2 cups sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

{ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

{ cup shortening

\ cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup water (or strong brewed coffee)

{ cup buttermilk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together sugar and flour in a large bowl; set aside.

Combine butter and next three ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until butter and shortening melt. Remove from heat and pour over sugar mixture, stirring until dissolved. Cool slightly.

Stir in buttermilk and next three (or four) ingredients. Pour into a greased and lightly floured 10- by 15-inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Cake will have a fudgelike texture. Makes 36 to 40 bars.

Note: Make the icing five minutes before taking the cake out of the oven, and spread it on the hot cake.

Another variation: Esther Weisman of Tampa adds 1{ cups marshmallows to the cake batter.

Chocolate Icing

{ cup butter or margarine

\ cup unsweetened cocoa

cup milk

1 1-pound package confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

Combine butter, cocoa and milk in medium saucepan. Cook over low heat 5 minutes or until butter melts. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, vanilla and pecans. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth and sugar dissolves. Spread over hot cake.

Note: If you do not have buttermilk on hand, two teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice added to { cup milk will work.

From: Joyce Goralski of Largo, Suzanne Kent of Clearwater, Judy Pesce of Palm Harbor, Madeleine O'Brien of Dunnellon, Irene Mullins of New Port Richey, Joanne Stevens of Gainesville, Dorothy McGuigan of Bayonet Point, Betty Ann Pavlechko of Port Richey, Beth Walsh of Dunedin, Mary Lu Dozier of Spring Hill and many more.

Recipe: Texas Sheet Cake with sour cream.

Texas Sheet Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

{ teaspoon salt

1 cup margarine or butter (2 sticks)

1 cup water

4 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa

2 eggs

{ cup sour cream

Icing:

{ cup butter or margarine (1 stick)

6 tablespoons milk

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 pound confectioners' sugar (4 cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.

In medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil the margarine, water and cocoa.

Add boiled mixture, eggs and sour cream to flour ingredients. Beat the entire mixture well with an electric mixer. Pour into greased 10- by 15-inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While the cake is baking, prepare frosting: Put margarine, milk and cocoa in medium saucepan until melted. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat until blended. Stir in nuts. Frost cake while warm. Cool before cutting. Makes 3 dozen cake squares.

Microwave: In step 2, combine margarine, water and cocoa in 1-quart glass measuring cup. Microwave on high 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once.

When preparing frosting, combine margarine, milk and cocoa in 1-quart glass measuring cup. Microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds until margarine melts.

From: Robin Smith of St. Petersburg.

Recipe: Texas Sheet Cake from Cooking Light magazine.

Light Texas Sheet Cake

Vegetable cooking spray

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

\ teaspoon salt

} cup water

{ (1 stick) cup butter

\ cup unsweetened cocoa

{ cup low-fat buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Icing:

6 tablespoons butter

cup fat-free milk

\ cup unsweetened cocoa

3 cups confectioners' sugar

\ cup chopped pecans, toasted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Coat a 10- by 15-inch jelly roll pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 teaspoons flour.

Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour with sugar, soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.

Combine water, butter and cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; pour into flour mixture. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add buttermilk, vanilla and eggs; beat well.

Pour batter into prepared pan; bake at 375 degrees for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.

To prepare icing, combine 6 tablespoons butter, milk and \ cup cocoa in a medium saucepan; bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; gradually stir in confectioners' sugar, pecans and vanilla extract. Spread over hot cake. Cool completely on wire rack. Yield: 20 servings (serving size: 1 slice).

Note: You can also make this recipe in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 22 minutes.

You Asked for It is a reader mail column. If you have a cooking question or the answer to someone else's question, write to: You Asked for It, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Be sure to include your full name, city and phone number with your letter. Letters without this information will be discarded. Requests cannot be answered by phone or mail.

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