The BEST Texas Sheet Cake is a dream! Soft chocolate cake baked in a half sheet pan and frosted with warm old fashioned chocolate frosting makes this classis cake the BEST! It feeds a crowd and will be a hit at any gathering!
What is Texas Sheet Cake?
What is Texas Sheet Cake? It’s a classic single layer sheet cake that I am sure you have eaten at some point! Maybe you have even tried making it! If you have, you know it has a few steps that include, boiling and heating ingredients over the stove! But the end result is amazing! It is totally worth the effort…and it is easy!
I don’t know if Texas Sheet Cake really comes from Texas. I just know it is a classic sheet cake that reminds me of potlucks, picnics, and total southern hospitality. Maybe that is where it gets its name?! It feeds a crowd and is perfect for any social gathering!
Texas Sheet Cake (I assume depending on region) can be a yellow cake or a chocolate cake. Either one can be considered a Texas Sheet Cake. But this is a cake recipe for the Best Chocolate Sheet Cake…and it is good!
Classic Sheet Cake is made with buttermilk usually. It helps make the cake soft and gives it the fluffy cake crumb.
But I want my cake even richer, softer and more moist! So I use Sour Cream! It truly makes this easy Texas Sheet Cake the BEST!
Your Stove Top is needed for Texas Sheet Cake!
How you make a Texas Sheet Cake is different than a regular cake where you just mix the ingredients in a bowl.
Texas Sheet Cake requires a saucepan, a burner and some heat for the cake batter and the frosting!
For the cake batter you will heat your butter, cocoa and some water over medium heat. Then it has to cool for 15 minutes-set that timer! Then this chocolate butter mixture is added to the other cake batter ingredients.
You will need to heat some of your frosting ingredients on the stove also! Get your saucepan out again and heat your milk and butter together until it is fully melted. Almost on the verge of boiling, just starting to steam up. Then off the stove it comes to finish it off and frost the cake!
The stove top and heating of ingredients adds a few steps to this cake, but it is worth it! And it is simple!
The Pan for Texas Sheet Cake
Many people bake their Texas Sheet Cakes in a Jelly Roll Pan. I prefer a half sheet pan, and yes their is a difference! I always prefer using a half sheet pan! I don’t even own a jelly roll pan! (See below for the half sheet pans I have and love!)
The jelly roll pan is typically a sheet pan or baking sheet that is rimmed and measures about 10×15 inches. While a half sheet pan (what I always use) is rimmed and measures about 13×18 inches. So it is a little bit bigger, and makes a bit thinner cake, which I prefer!
You can use a jelly roll pan for this recipe. It may need to cook a few more minutes because the cake will be thicker in a smaller pan!
Making the Easy Texas Sheet Cake Batter
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease your half sheet pan (or jelly roll pan).
Like I mentioned before, you need a sauce pan (medium sized) for part of the cake batter and 2 bowls (medium to large size).
First, take your butter and cut it into pieces.
Add your warm water to your saucepan and then add your butter pieces and cocoa powder. Heat it on low heat, whisking every now and then until the butter is fully melted and everything is fully mixed together.
Turn your heat to medium and let the mixture come to a boil, whisking occasionally. Once it reaches a slow boil, take it off the heat.
Let it cool for 15 minutes (set your timer)! It will not fully cool and that is ok! You want it to be warm for when you add it to the other ingredients!
While your chocolate mixture is cooling, mix up the other batter ingredients. You will need 2 medium/large bowls.
In one bowl, add your dry ingredients (flour, white and brown sugar, baking soda and salt). Mix it together.
In your other bowl add your wet ingredients. Add your eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. (There is vanilla added in the pic below…I use Mexican Vanilla that is clear, so you can’t see it). Mix it well (I use a whisk).
Stir your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. Make sure to mix it well so there are no dry ingredients left behind and no “dry” spots in the mix.
It will seem like it will never mix and there is too much flour, but keep mixing, it will mix in just fine. It will be a thick cake batter at this point! Almost like a cookie dough!
Once your chocolate mixture has cooled for 15 minutes, add it to the bowl of your cake batter and mix it well!
Pour your cake batter into your greased half sheet pan/jelly roll pan. Spread it out evenly in the sheet pan. Bake it for 18-22 minutes. Mine hits the sweet spot at 21 minutes and is perfectly baked.
How to tell if your Texas Sheet Cake is baked enough
You will know you cake is baked perfectly when the entire cake looks spongey and has little bumps all over (even in the center).
I have noticed at 18 minutes the very center of the my cake is still smooth and slightly jiggly if I gently move the pan. I know it needs another 2 minutes. In that 2 minutes, the center bakes perfectly and looks like the rest of the cake and gets bumpy and sponge-like looking like the rest of the cake.
Poke the center of the cake with a toothpick and it should come out clean! But making sure the cake looks the same all over (see the photo below) is a great indicator the cake is done!
Take it out of the oven when it is done baking. It will cool slightly while you make the frosting!
The Chocolate Frosting
DO NOT MAKE THE FROSTING WHILE THE CAKE BAKES! You need the cake to slightly cool before adding the frosting but it still needs to be warm. You need your frosting to be warm and spreadable so do not make it ahead of time!
The warm frosting sets and gets that perfect smooth frosted look that you find with your traditional Texas Sheet Cakes… but it has to be fresh and warm!
The frosting for The Best Easy Texas Sheet Cake is easy and so yummy. It is a classic for this cake, and in my opinion the makings of a great Texas Sheet Cake.
The frosting needs a saucepan also! Combine your milk, and butter and let it heat on medium-low heat until the butter is melted fully.
Whisk the butter and milk as it is heating. The butter and milk needs to heat fully but not boil. I take mine off the heat just as it starts to steam!
After the saucepan is off the heat, add your cocoa and vanilla and whisk it together. Sometimes my cocoa will be a bit lumpy, which is frustrating when I am wanting a smooth frosting. You can sift your cocoa after measuring it if you want it perfectly smooth. I usually don’t bother and deal with a few dark chocolate cocoa spots in the frosting.
Next you will add your powdered sugar. I do sift my powdered sugar while my cake bakes (the only thing I do for my frosting as the cake bakes) to avoid a really lumpy frosting. This is personal preference and not necessary. Measure the powdered sugar first, then sift it if you choose to.
Mix the powdered sugar fully in to the chocolate mixture.
Immediately pour it on to your warm cake and quickly smooth it out with a rubber scraper.
Work fast. It starts to set immediately and will leave marks on the cake if you are slow at smoothing it. (You can see on the side of my cake in the photo where I smoothed out the frosting after a minute and it left a line…no big deal…but if you want it perfectly smooth, work fast!)
Serving The BEST Easy Texas Sheet Cake
Let the cake sit for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The frosting needs time to set.
Serving up this cake needs no explanation! Cut this cake into pieces and serve it up! We love a cold glass of milk to eat with this rich chocolate sheet cake. Some vanilla ice cream is always yummy too!
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The BEST Texas Sheet Cake
- 1 cup butter, cut into pieces *I use salted, but unsalted works, just add 1 full teaspoon of salt instead of the 3/4 tsp the recipe calls for
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cups light brown sugar. firmly packed
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
The Frosting (do not make your frosting while the cake bakes – it needs to be warm and fresh for pouring on the cake)
- 1/3 cup 2% or whole milk
- 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces *salted or unsalted is fine
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 cups powdered sugar *see notes
- Preheat oven to 350° Grease a half sheet pan or jelly roll pan.
- In a small/medium saucepan add your butter, warm water and cocoa powder. Heat on low heat, whisking it and letting it heat until the butter is melted and combined fully with the water and cocoa. Once the butter is melted, raise the heat to medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from the heat once it comes to a slow boil. LET IT COOL FOR 15 MINUTES – SET A TIMER!
- In a medium/large mixing bowl, measure your dry ingredients (flour, white and brown sugar, baking soda and salt). Mix together.
- In another medium/large mixing bowl, add your wet ingredients (eggs, sour cream and vanilla). Whisk it together until fully combined.
- Mix your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Keep stirring and mixing until all of the dry ingredients are fully mixed and there are no dry spots in the batter. It will be thicker, more like a cookie dough.
- After the chocolate mixture has cooled for 15 minutes, pour it into the cake batter mixture and mix well.
- Pour the cake batter into the greased half sheet pan. Bake it for 18-22 minutes. Mine bakes for 21 minutes. You will know it is done when a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the middle. *If using a jelly roll pan, the cake will be slightly thicker and may need to bake for a few extra minutes.TIP: You can also tell it is done when the middle is set and doesn't "jiggle" if the pan is gently tapped. The center of the cake should look like the outside edges and will be sponge-like and bumpy (not smooth). See photo above in blog post.
- Take the cake out of the oven to cool slightly and then make your frosting! DO NOT MAKE YOUR FROSTING WHILE THE CAKE BAKES! The frosting needs to be warm and fresh for pouring on the cake, so you will make it while the cake cools for a few minutes.
- In a medium saucepan, melt your butter with your milk over medium-low heat. Whisk it occasionally. Once the mixture is melted and is starts steaming (not boiling) remove from heat.
- Add the vanilla and cocoa powder and whisk until combined.
- Add your powdered sugar and mix until smooth and fully combined.
- Immediately pour the frosting on to your warm cake and let it spread smooth. Spread it out evenly over the cake. WORK FAST! The frosting will set fast and will leave marks as you frost it after about 30 seconds! So if you want it perfectly smooth work fast!
- Let the frosting "set" for about 45 minutes to 1 hour before cutting/slicing and serving. I cut mine into 20 pieces but you can cut them bigger or smaller for more or less pieces of cake.
- Enjoy the cake, cover tightly to store for up to 4 days!