texas sheet cake

i love cake.

this is something i’ve known about myself for a long while. when i was an omnivore, i regularly ate at a local lunch spot in tallahassee, florida, called hopkins deli, regularly finishing my meal with a slice of their amazing cake. five years into eating an intentionally better diet i feel as though i am still battling the repercussions of those cake-days. i’d like to say it was worth it, but it probably wasn’t. there really is no way to justify eating cake – it is purely a decadent treat. brillat-savarin, writing in the early 19th century and having witnessed the rising epoch of baked confectioneries, personally avoided them as he knew that they were empty calories, suited only for those who were seeking to gain weight (brillat-savarin was his ladies “plump”). brillat-savarin predates robert atkins by over 100 years in this regard, as “the professor” also avoided potatoes and other “starches” and ate only the crusty ends of bread.

cake, however, still exists as a treat for those who feel as though they deserve a bit of unnecessary luxury, and this week i felt i needed some luxury.

texas sheet cake, for me, is a buttermilk chocolate cake scented with cinnamon and spread with a boiled chocolate frosting immediately upon emerging from the oven. the thin cake is moist and dense, yet balanced by the bright cinnamon, and the chocolate frosting is, well, absolutely delicious. don’t forget the toasted pecans!

texas sheet cake is probably my favorite cakes as my mother made it often when i was a child. it’s very easy to make, easy to apportion (haha) and isn’t fussy about ambient temperature, humidity or other variables like taller cakes. this recipe uses “buttermilk,” which is, i believe, the method my mother used. i’ve seen recipes that use sour cream, which i’m sure would be great, or you could perhaps use yogurt with the same effect (liberum lacticiniis*, obviously).

texas sheet cake
for 1/2 sheet pan

for cake
2 c flour
2 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c oil
1/2 c vegan butter
1/3 c cocoa powder
1 c water
2/3 c soymilk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tsp ener-g egg powder or finely ground flax seeds
1 tsp vanillafor frosting
1/2 c butter
2/3 c cocoa powder
1/3 c soymilk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz powdered sugar
2/3 c toasted pecans, or so

 – preheat oven to 350F, butter and flour a 1/2 sheet pan or large jelly roll pan/cookie sheet (does anyone still make jelly rolls?)
– whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
– in a measuring cup, whisk together the soymilk, vinegar and ener-g or flax until thick, about 1 minute. stir in the vanilla.
– melt butter in a saucepan over low heat, add the oil, whisk in the cocoa. add the water and bring just to a boil and pour into the dry ingredients.
– mix with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated, then add the soymilk mixture. beat until smooth, about 45 seconds.
– pour into sheet pan and bake for about 16 minutes, turning halfway through, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
– while the cake is baking, make the frosting. melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. whisk in cocoa powder, then whisk in soymilk, vinegar and salt. remove from heat and add powdered sugar, whisking until smooth and glossy. pour over cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, spreading carefully and patiently. sprinkle with pecans and allow to cool for a while (but it tastes great when still warm!)
*omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina.
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