Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tommie's Brownies aka Buttermilk Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

A long-held southern favorite, Texas Sheet Cake, is the lightest, fluffiest, perfectly sweet, rich and delectable, melt in your mouth, best chocolate cake ever. No matter how hard you try you will not be able to eat just one piece.
A long-held southern favorite, Texas Sheet Cake, is the lightest, fluffiest, perfectly sweet, rich and delectable, melt in your mouth, best chocolate cake ever. No matter how hard you try you will not be able to eat just one piece.

Tommie's Brownies aka Buttermilk Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

I got this big batch brownie recipe several years ago from Tommie, a friend of mine from Oklahoma, but it's essentially one of those recipes that has been around in one form or another, and by one name or another, for as long as I have, and probably longer.

It originated with Hershey many years back, and was on the back of the cocoa tin. One year, I can't even remember how many orders of this sheet cake Tommie said she did for a church bake sale, but it had to be a few dozen all told. As soon as somebody would find out she was making them for the bake sale, they'd be calling to place an order for a full tray before the bake sale even started! I can certainly see why.

Tommie calls them brownies, but most of you know it as Texas Sheet Cake. Most often, it becomes associated with whoever it is that brings it most often to family gatherings, as in Aunt Mary's Chocolate Cake. Some folks refer to this as Lunchroom Ladies Brownies, based on what they had in school. I don't remember being that lucky to have these in school!

Some call this Big Batch Brownies, Mexican Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Candy Cake, Chocolate Sheet Cake, Dream Cake - which I believe may be the original name from Hershey and I can see why. It's also been called "Cocoa Sheath Cake" - in fact, in one of my old Bell's Best cookbooks from the early 80s, it's listed as a Cajun Sheath Cake. Have no idea how they slipped a Cajun name in on this one, but you'll see it by all sorts of odd names, some that make no sense!

The cake is fairly rich, so it is traditionally made as a thin, single layer cake baked in a half sheet pan - what we call a jelly roll pan (11 x 17 inch or 13 x 18) - which makes it ideal for taking to a party, to the classroom, or a Sunday School class, potlucks and to treat your coworkers. Just bake it on the tray, slice into small squares and place it on a platter or on cupcake liners. At home, it is sometimes made in a 9 x 13 inch pan, though the sheet pans are much more traditional for this cake.

I don't make this cake often just to have around the house, because frankly it's dangerous. Seriously. This is a take somewhere, gathering, giveaway and share with a boatload of folks hanging around to help you eat it kinda cake, meant to tote to a pot-luck, or church supper, reunion, or for a funeral. My picture does not do it justice, because it is the lightest fluffiest cake, that is perfectly sweet, rich and delectable, melt in your mouth awesome and chocolaty, and I guarantee no matter how hard you try you will not be able to eat just one piece. One row maybe. But not just one piece.

If you do brave making this one just to have, I assure you, every time you pass this tray, you'll grab a piece. In fact, you'll probably find excuses just to pass the tray because you will not be able to stop thinking about this cake sitting in that other room. I know it looks so innocently simple, but it is deliciously addictive. So, there. I have sufficiently warned you. If you eat the whole pan over the course of a day or three, don't blame me! ;)

You'll use butter and cocoa twice, but since this is done in stages I've separated the amounts in the recipe according to when you need them. If you're making this for yourself and not a gathering where you have to worry over nut allergies, you can add 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped nuts to the icing, whipping them in just before you pour the icing over the cake, or simply sprinkle them all over the top right after you pour on the icing.

So go on ... I'll bet that you have everything in the pantry you need to make this cake honestly and it really doesn't take long to pull together. Then come back and tell me how you feel about me it. {smile} This is a perfect dessert that goes over well at any gathering, so make one and that way you'll have plenty of folks to share it with and you won't hate me forever.

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Recipe: Buttermilk Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 25 min | Yield: About 12 to 15 servings


For the Cake:
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
For the Frosting:
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons of milk
  • 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 (1 pound) box of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans, toasted,optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For a sheet cake, spray a jellyroll pan (a half sheet, sheet cake pan approx. 18" x 13" x 1") with butter flavored non-stick spray, or spray a 9 x 13 inch pan for a regular cake. In a measuring cup, measure out 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Add 2 eggs to that and beat until well blended; set aside. Whisk together in a large bowl, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the cinnamon. Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the 2 sticks of butter, the 2 tablespoons oil and 1 cup of water and bring to a near boil. Remove pot from the heat and whisk in 6 tablespoons of cocoa, until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla and add this mixture to the sugar and flour mixture; stir until well blended. Slowly add in the buttermilk and egg mixture and stir well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees until the center is set, about 20 to 25 minutes for a sheet cake, about 35 to 40 minutes for a regular 9 x 13 inch pan. While the cake is cooking, toast the pecans in a dry pan, tossing regularly until fragrant, about 5 minutes, set aside to cool.

When cake is about 5 minutes from being done, prepare the frosting. Do not do the frosting ahead of time because it will quickly stiffen. Heat the stick of butter and 6 tablespoons of milk in a saucepan just until it comes to a boil. It will need to be very hot. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons of cocoa. Mixture will thicken. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and quickly beat with a wooden spoon until smooth, returning to a low burner if mixture thickens too quickly. Immediately pour the frosting all over the cake. Working quickly, use a spatula to gently push the frosting out to the edges and to cover the cake evenly. Sprinkle top evenly with the cooled toasted pecans, if desired. Set entire pan aside on a wire rack and allow the cake to cool completely before slicing.

Cook's Notes: When the cake comes out of the oven, quickly poke holes all over it and then pour the icing on top. For brands, I prefer White Lily flour, Hershey's cocoa, Land O'Lakes butter and Domino sugar. May also use cake flour if you like.

Tips: This will be a very moist cake, so you aren't looking for a dry surface when it is done. As always, take care to not overcook your cake. If you shake the pan and the cake doesn't jiggle, it's done! Frosting will set fast, so ya gotta move fast! If your frosting stiffens too quickly, you can also thin it with a little additional milk if needed, and return it to a low heat.

Texas Turtle Sheet Cake: Prepare as above except right after pouring icing over the cake, sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Finish with caramel sauce, drizzled over the top.

White Texas Almond Sheet Cake: Prepare as above, except substitute 1/2 cup sour cream for the buttermilk, omit cocoa and substitute almond extract for the vanilla. For the frosting, also prepare as above except omit the cocoa and substitute sliced almonds and almond extract.

Pecan Praline Icing: Heat one stick butter with one cup of light brown sugar; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in milk, beat in 2 cups powdered sugar and vanilla and quickly beat with a wooden spoon until smooth, returning to a low burner if mixture thickens too quickly. Quickly stir in pecans and immediately pour the frosting all over the cake and gently push the frosting out to the edges and to cover the cake evenly.

Candy Cane Cake: Prepare cake as above, except for the icing, cream together 1/2 block (4 ounces) cream cheese and 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter. Add in 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, until desired consistency is reached. Spread icing on cooled cake and sprinkle top with 1/3 cup crushed peppermint bits.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing: If you prefer not to use the classic or praline icing, my buttercream frosting is also good on these. Click here for the full recipe with instructions.


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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Other Cake Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Almond Joy Cake
Classic German Chocolate Cake

Mama's Red Velvet Cake

Posted by on May 17, 2009
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