Monday, 6 August 2012

Testing a bold claim - Pioneer Woman's best ever chocolate sheet cake

I know it is really hard to believe but in the week that was my husband's birthday we had our fill of peanut butter and chocolate baked goods.  Well and truly.  No more.  We had one party to go and I had planned a peanut butter pie with Oreo crust but there was no way that either of us were interested in consuming such a thing.  I am certain that it will be in my future, but for now I needed a plan B.

I flicked through a few of my favourite baking blogs to find some inspiration.  One of my favourite baking bloggers, Bakerella, had written a post after testing out a chocolate sheet cake (also known as a slab cake) that is claimed by some, Pioneer Woman starting this trend, to be the best sheet cake ever.  It's called Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake, and there was something about the photos of this cake that made me want to dive in.   So dive in I did.

I didn't trust this recipe.  There were a few things I was sceptical about.  Adding hot mixtures to flour mixtures.  No need to grease the pan.  Jelly roll pan? What the hell is that?  I decided to trust Bakerella. She had never let me down before.

To start the cake melt butter in a saucepan, then, with the heat still on, add four heaped tablespoons of cocoa.

Combine thoroughly, then add boiling water.  Boil the mixture for 30 seconds before taking it off the heat.  Combine flour, sugar and salt.  Here comes the first part that freaked me out.  Pour the hot, yes hot, mixture over the flour mixture and stir slightly to cool.

Now this cake has buttermilk.  Any cake with buttermilk is sure to be a good cake.

Add eggs and vanilla to the buttermilk before adding the baking soda.  Don't forget this.  I did.  It made for an interesting 'cake' that we actually enjoyed immensely, but it was not the best. ever. chocolate sheet cake.  It was more like a brownie.  A great thing about forgetting the baking soda is that I felt compelled to make the cake again.

Anyway, add the buttermilk mixture to the chocolate mixture, stir together with not a mixer but a spoon.  Another sticking point.  Really? I don't need my beloved Kitchenaid? How will I ever justify its purchase if fabulous cakes can be made without it? I did get to lick the back of said spoon and it was good.  Very good.

Pour the mixture in to an ungreased pan.  This scared me.  Surely it would stick? I decided again to trust in the baking big guns.  I didn't grease.  I poured.  I baked.  Twenty minutes? You've got to be kidding me!  A great cake that is this easy to prepare and takes twenty minutes?  If all of these claims are true I can see this cake being made often in my house.  Easy.  Quick.  Full of pantry staples.  Tick tick tick. If only it were healthy.   Surely then it would have to win some sort of a prize.

Back to the pan.  The recipe called for a jelly roll pan.  I had no idea what that was and after good old Google assisted in increasing my knowledge base I ascertained that a lamington pan should do the trick.

Now for the frosting.  A similar process.  Melt butter, add cocoa, boil for thirty seconds, then add milk and vanilla.  Lastly add 400g of icing sugar.  Stuff sifting it.  Not required.  Stir, add nuts, and here comes the good part.  Pour it over the hot cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Eat a bit if you must, and you must.  Pour it evenly and let it spread to the edges.

Wait for the cake to cool and dig in.

So...the verdict is in.

As you can see by this empty container, the cake was very much enjoyed by all, both soda free and with soda!!!! It didn't stick.  My lamington pan worked just fine.  I can't really say if it is the best chocolate sheet cake ever, because I have never had a chocolate sheet cake before, but it is good.  Damn good.  If you are looking for an simple, incredibly tasty cake that can be easily shared then look no further.  I will be making this cake again, I know that for a fact.  I might just make it tomorrow...

Susie xx

{Texas chocolate sheet cake}


2 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 heaped tablespoons cocoa
225 grams unsalted butter, chopped
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, or any other nut that takes your fancy
200 grams unsalted butter
4 heaped tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons full cream milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
400 grams icing sugar

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celcius.

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the cocoa and stir to combine.  Add the boiling water and allow the mixture to bubble for 30 seconds before removing from heat.

Pour hot mixture over flour mixture and stir slightly to cool.

Combine buttermilk, eggs, baking power and vanilla, then add to the flour and cocoa mixture.  Stir until thoroughly combined.

Pour in to an ungreased lamington pan and bake for approximately twenty minutes.

While the cake is baking, make the icing.

Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan.  Add cocoa and stir to combine.  Take the saucepan off the heat and add the milk, vanilla and icing sugar.  Stir to combine, then add the nuts.

When the cake is taken from the oven, pour the icing mixture over the cake while it is still warm.  Allow to cool.  Or not.  Then eat it.  I defy you to stop at only one square.  ;-)

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