Thursday, July 19, 2012

Texas Sheet Cake

The origin of this cake's name is unclear, so I decided to do some culinary sleuthing.  According to the Food Timeline, it could refer to a taste that's as big as Texas, the fact that the cake was popularized by Lady Bird Johnson (who hailed from Texas), or that it can feed a "Texas-sized" crowd.  I tend to like the latter interpretation best, since this is big enough to feed everyone at just about any summer gathering you have planned, whether cookouts or birthday parties.

For the cake:
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegan sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup vegan buttermilk*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
For the icing:
  • 6 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1/3 cup plain non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 cups vegan powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped and toasted pecans**
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. To prepare the cake, coat a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan with cooking spray, and dust evenly with 2 teaspoons flour; set aside.

Note: the jelly roll pan is essential here to make a proper "sheet cake."  In a pinch you could bake in a 13x9-inch baking dish, but you'll need to bake longer than the directions call for below, and you'd have to call it a Texas Baking Dish Cake, which isn't nearly as fun.  Do make sure you're using the proper size jelly roll pan - it's smaller than the 17-inch baking sheets I use for cookie batches.

2. Lightly spoon the remaining 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.

3. In a saucepan, combine the water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  (Don't worry about starting with melted butter; it will quickly melt into the water as the mixture heats up).  Once boiling, remove from heat and add to the flour mixture; beat at medium speed until blended.

4. Add the buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and Ener-G eggs; beat well.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 17 minutes - a wooden pick inserted in the center should come out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack.

Note: since this was my first time baking a sheet cake, I was a little alarmed at how runny the batter was; however, I need not have fretted, since it was perfect by the time baking was done.

6. To prepare the icing, combine 6 tablespoons butter, the milk, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and gradually stir in the powdered sugar, pecans, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  Working quickly, pour over the hot cake, spreading to cover the cake evenly, and then cool completely on a wire rack.

You'll find that the icing is thinner than a frosting, but it will still set quickly once cooled, so work fast in this step, and don't make the icing in advance (i.e. while the cake is still baking).  I always find it helpful to sift powdered sugar for the smoothest consistency. 

*To prepare the buttermilk, place 1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.  Fill with plain non-dairy milk to equal 1/2 cup; let stand for 5 minutes to clabber (sour).  The acidity from the lemon juice is necessary to react with the baking soda, so don't substitute unclabbered milk in its place.

**To toast the nuts, cook in a small skillet over medium heat for about 5 minuets, shaking or stirring frequently, until toasted.

Nutrition Info:
20 servings (1 slice), Calories 298 

Tasting Notes:
I was forewarned by reading some reviews of classic Texas Sheet Cake, but yes - this is sweet.  Not even so much chocolaty as just sugary (though that's not necessarily a bad thing).  I would have preferred it with a classic fluffy chocolate frosting, instead of the icing, however.  As it is, the cake is almost more like a brownie.  I also thought there would be strong cinnamon flavor, but honestly it could use even more.  Perhaps I'll add cinnamon extract to the icing in place of vanilla extract next time.  These are quibbles.  Sugar + chocolate + Earth Balance butter = yum.


No comments:

Post a Comment