WEDNESDAY’S THROW-IT-TOGETHER TEXAS SHEET CAKE
I didn’t intend to sneak a cake recipe in between my travel-inspired posts, but this is the easiest-yet-delicious cake recipe I have yet to encounter, and I think you should do it.
Look, I’m not exactly a practician of 30-minute meals. I don’t mind getting down and dirty with a recipe for the better part of my day and get disgustingly anal with
minor details. But for those who knows me, knows that when it comes to dessert-baking, specifically cakes and such, I then become what Nat Geo would call, a cake-sloth. If the recipe, even at a glance, contains any mentioning of words like “softened/room-temperature butter (subtext: have my cake and eat it tomorrow)”, or “creaming (scrape till my ass split)”, or “sift (is Santa coming or I’m covered in blow!)”, or “beat eggs one at a time (zzzz… I’m sorry wah?)”…, I just turn around and start another 10-hours operation on my next ramen project. The double standard is weird, I know, even to myself. But for the entire lifespan of this blog, I’ve been maximizing all efforts on savoury recipes while, in contrast, cheating my way through various pastries such as this skillet cookie, this dumpling wrapper cannoli, and even a no-churn mascarpone soft-serve (and even the more complicated stuff involved cheating). Then, just a few days ago, this sloth has found a new tree.
Following the Monday-blue oatmeal cookie, here’s the Wednesday’s Throw-it-together Texas chocolate sheet cake.
How is it that this cake-sloth hadn’t heard of this fabulous food-source until now? Because as far as the internet is concerned, the typical recipe for a Texas chocolate sheet cake, as I later found out, is no news. There’s quite a lot of’em out there. But when I saw it for the first time on Martha Stewart’s Living last week, it felt as if a whole new natural habitat was uncovered. Since I have reasonable doubts that there are fellow cake-sloths out there being left out of the party, I thought, it can’t hurt to mention it again.
First of all, not only that there was no
screaming creaming, sifting, waiting or any electricity-powered mixer involved, but better yet, the process was so crude and rough that it practically felt mannerless. Sloth-like.
Basically, you boil everything in one big pot then you stir in the rest and bake. Done.
The entire recipe was so easy that I, even I, felt the insecure urge to add a little something more like, for example, browning the butter instead of melting, and replacing water with strong brewed coffee, and substituting cocoa icing with ganache (which is just a fancy word for stirring chocolates in hot cream) for extra richness. And as I stood there as a naturally suspicious species, wondering how on earth could a “pre-cooked” batter ever turn into an edible cake, a mere 22 mins of baking later, I was blown away again.
The cake rose beautifully, and was moist… soft… and dense with rich crumbs. The entire project, including the chocolate ganache that lubricated through the already-moist crumbs, could be done in under 1 hour from start to finish. You can literally bake this cake from the time your friend calls to say he/she’s putting on a pair of pants to head over your way, and have it ready before the door bell rings (ok, if you didn’t include the time it takes for the cake to cool but really, who does that?).
So yes, if you were like me, who needs something sweet to munch on in between the hours she spend on beating a roast duck into a pot of milky broth… this delicious cake is gonna save you some time.
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BASICALLY, YOU BOIL EVERYTHING IN ONE BIG POT THEN STIR IN THE REST AND BAKE. DONE.
ALL IN UNDER 1 HOUR, IF YOU DIDN’T INCLUDE THE TIME IT TAKES FOR THE CAKE TO COOL, BUT REALLY, WHO DOES THAT?
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Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living
- 8 oz (235 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt, plus extra to sprinkle
- 3/4 cup (160 grams) full-fat coconut milk
- 3~4 tbsp powdered sugar to adjust sweetness if needed
- 1 1/2 stick (170 grams) unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp (21 grams) natural cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup (180 grams) freshly brewed strong coffee
- 1 1/2 cup (205 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup (loosely packed)(195 grams) dark brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup (80 grams) buttermilk
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- GANACHE: Place chopped bittersweet chocolate and sea salt in a large bowl. Heat up coconut milk over medium heat until it comes to a gentle simmer, then pour it over the chocolate. Leave it alone for 10 min.
- CAKE BATTER: Meanwhile, preheat the oven on 375 F/190 C. Cook unsalted butter in a large pot over medium-high heat for about 5 min, swirling occasionally, until it starts to brown. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cocoa powder, whisking until evenly combined, then return it to the stove and add coffee. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add flour, dark brown sugar, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and lump-free, resembling a thick, shiny paste. Let the pot cool for 5 min before adding the eggs.
- GANACHE: Meanwhile, go back to the ganache. Stir it with a spatula until the chocolates are evenly melted and smooth. Mix in powdered sugar to sweeten if needed (I added about 3 tbsp). Set aside until needed.
- CAKE BATTER: Now, go back to the cake batter. Add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the pot and whisk vigorously until the batter is completely smooth and incorporated. Pour the batter into a parchment-lined cake-pan (two 6" square pan, or one 9" square pan), then bake in the oven for 22~24 min, until an inserted wooden skewer comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool for 30 min, then smear the ganache on top (My kitchen is cold so the ganache thickened considerably), and sprinkle with more flaky sea salt. Moist, dense, decadent. Most importantly, effortless.
I ran out of cream and so used full-fat coconut milk for the ganache. You can use cream if you'd like.
If you can't get buttermilk, whisk 1/2 milk and 1/2 plain unsweetened yogurt together.
Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous)January 15, 2016 at 3:24 PM
wow, this looks like such a good cake for a throw-it-together affair! and i’m stunned that the cake looks so rich and chocolatey with only 3 T of cocoa (sometimes i use 3/4 cup and it looks tan lol).
mandy@ladyandpupsJanuary 15, 2016 at 4:58 PM
Heather, it’s the coffee and bark brown sugar :)
Angela - Patisserie Makes PerfectJanuary 15, 2016 at 5:21 PM
Wow these cakes look delicious – I love that you’ve decorated it with a ganache instead of a chocolate buttercream – so much tastier and decadent.
Love the pictures – especially the simplicity of the cut cake.
ZootieJanuary 17, 2016 at 3:44 AM
My niece recommended your site, my first take of it is exceptional.
JessicaJanuary 15, 2016 at 6:41 PM
This looks awesome – reminds me of how much I drooled over your chocolate marriage puddings!
DanyJanuary 15, 2016 at 9:13 PM
oooohhh that’s like a recipe of Devil’s food cake i have, nice!! ^_^
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla SugarJanuary 15, 2016 at 9:31 PM
This cake looks damn fine to me. Especially that frosting!! And I like an easy recipe on here every once and a while!
NatalieJanuary 15, 2016 at 10:28 PM
I’m dying to make this cake but what if I don’t like coffee or cinnamon?
mandy@ladyandpupsJanuary 16, 2016 at 3:01 AM
Natalie, you actually can’t taste the coffee and cinnamon, but if you want, you can use water and omit the cinnamon ：）
J.S. @ Sun Diego EatsJanuary 16, 2016 at 12:02 AM
so…dynamically frosted?! reminded me of my favourite pierre soulages painting haha http://notquitefaust.tumblr.com/post/30335680485/palmofmyhands-pierre-soulages-ohne-titel
also if boil and dump baking is your thing then you can pretty much master eclairs, cream puffs…and all other things choux?
mandy@ladyandpupsJanuary 16, 2016 at 3:00 AM
JS, hahaaa I do! Like the sandy old man donut post from a few weeks ago! But I never thought it can be a cake too!!
linda \\ the baker who kernsJanuary 16, 2016 at 2:18 AM
Love your bold and bright photography! This sheet cake looks badass!
AniaJanuary 16, 2016 at 5:11 AM
I’ve just made it, can’t wait to true (still hot) :-)
mandy@ladyandpupsJanuary 16, 2016 at 1:53 PM
Ania, let me know if you likeee :)
June @ How to Philosophize with CakeJanuary 16, 2016 at 8:22 AM
Ah this looks scrumptious! And amazingly easy. I have a hankering for chocolate cake now, so perhaps… :)
Kara | Sorghum and StarchJanuary 20, 2016 at 9:11 AM
Mandy, I just made this cake yesterday, and it was so good that my family wolfed it down in less than two hours and have demanded I make another one!! It’s fantastic.
Becky StapleJanuary 23, 2016 at 3:56 AM
This looks absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to try it. I included a link to it in my own weekly blog post round-up here: http://thedistricttable.com/the-weeks-end-9/
KayJanuary 25, 2016 at 6:47 AM
I made this cake yesterday and can it get any simpler??? It was sooo decadent, reminisce of brownie. Eating it was almost a crime!
JessieJanuary 28, 2016 at 11:10 AM
sinfully delicious chocolate cake!
jakeFebruary 1, 2016 at 2:32 AM
ok this cake is insanely delicious. like i’m not usually a chocolate person but i NEED this cake. do you think i could freeze individual slices? it’s got that brownie-like density which makes me think it would be ok…
mandy@ladyandpupsFebruary 1, 2016 at 2:14 PM
Jake, haven’t tried freezing it yet, but let me know if it works if you do!!
jakeFebruary 8, 2016 at 11:01 AM
took a slice out of the freezer 30 minutes ago. probably could wait a bit longer to eat it but i just took a bite and it certainly doesn’t suck.
HaleyFebruary 2, 2016 at 8:55 AM
Made this for my son’s first birthday, and holy moly it was so good. Everyone flipped for the ganache, so simple and tasted so decadent. Thank you!
gabriellaFebruary 6, 2016 at 6:56 AM
thanks for the yummy recipe Mandy! I might make it for the superbowl! (I also forwarded it to my sister who lives in mozambique and she made it!! AND her name is Amanda!) :)
AmberFebruary 8, 2016 at 2:46 AM
How did you get that thick frosting out of that ganache recipe?
mandy@ladyandpupsFebruary 8, 2016 at 3:12 AM
Amber, my apt was really cold and it just thickened up. You can also chill it in the fridge then whip it before use :)
ElisavetFebruary 9, 2016 at 8:28 PM
This cake was perfect. Light, airy and moist at the same time. I had to use water instead of coffee because it was intended to be eaten by toddlers and yet it was very tasty without the coffee. Also, make sure you use natural cocoa, it makes all the difference. Thank you for another great recipe Mandy!!
JoyceFebruary 9, 2016 at 10:38 PM
It’s so delicious. I am making it again next week. Best chocolate cake I’ve ever had or made.
LauraFebruary 10, 2016 at 5:14 PM
Made this cake tonight for dessert and my family went crazy! We love it! It’s so easy to make. Comes together beautifully. Thanks so much for this recipe. It’s a keeper!!!
DeeFebruary 12, 2016 at 4:38 AM
This cake looks great. But made it twice last night. 2 6″ cakes and 1 9. Neither rose?
mandy@ladyandpupsFebruary 12, 2016 at 2:09 PM
Dee, oh boy… I have no idea why. You mean you used a 26″ pan? That’s really big. I would try to use a much small pan, like 9″ x 13″.
AndreaFebruary 23, 2016 at 6:39 AM
Just a head’s up. we are twins separated at birth. Baking rots but I did make this very cake last Monday. Love to see there’s another person with kitchen double standards.
NancyMarch 8, 2016 at 5:47 AM
Without a doubt a strange method of making a cake! It does turn out perfect and is really very rich and dark. I love the cinnamon, coffee notes and the coconut milk ganache is perfect. I also love the addition of flaky sea salt which offsets the ganache very nicely. I made this exactly as written but used an 8 X 8″ pan. I worried it would be too thick but somehow the cake is not very thick so I’d use this size again. Super easy and super delicious! Thanks!
CleaMay 21, 2016 at 6:36 PM
Glad to hear it works in an 8×8. Making this today!
KelleyApril 7, 2016 at 10:33 AM
Excited to make this tomorrow for a birthday. We’re feeding a crowd, can I use a 9×13 pan? Thanks!
AngelaAugust 8, 2016 at 10:13 PM
This was a good and simple chocolate cake. Moist and lighter than I expected. I went and looked at the recipe you adapted this from Mandy, and I could hardly see the resemblance! You’re amazingly creative.
Gale AnnFebruary 22, 2021 at 12:32 PM
Delicious! Made this for my family today. I added a little more Unsweetened cocoa. It was fantastic. Moist, rich and the ganache was perfect and so much easieer than icing
ClaireAugust 26, 2022 at 12:07 AM
I adore this cake. It is hefty without being dense, and the buttermilk keeps things fun and delicious. It’s also very forgiving if you slightly over-cook it.
My husband and I used the base cake for our wedding cake that we DIY’ed. It’s truly our go-to chocolate cake recipe.