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Mary's Texas Sheet Cake

(recipe, Anne Zimmerman)

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For more about this Southern recipe, read Anne Zimmerman's blog post on the Dinner Guest blog.


    1. 2 cups flour
    2. 2 cups sugar
    3. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
    4. 4 Tbsp. cocoa
    5. 1 cup water
    6. ½ cup buttermilk
    7. 2 eggs, beaten
    8. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    9. ½ tsp. cinnamon
    10. 1 tsp. baking soda
    11. Pinch of salt
    1. 2 Tbsp. butter
    2. 6 Tbsp. milk or ½ cup buttermilk
    3. 4 Tbsp. cocoa
    4. 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
    5. 1 lb. (16 ounces) powdered sugar
    6. 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 11-inch-by-16-inch pan.
    2. Make the cake: Sift the flour and sugar together in a large bowl. Combine the butter, cocoa, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a rapid boil. Pour the boiling liquid over the flour and sugar and mix well. Add the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Mix well by hand; the batter will be thin.
    3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    4. Make the frosting while the cake is baking: In the same small saucepan you used before, bring the butter, milk or buttermilk, and cocoa to a boil. Stir in the vanilla, then whisk in the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. If you like, stir in the nuts, or save them to sprinkle atop the frosted cake.
    5. Remove the cake from the oven and pour the warm frosting over the hot cake. Let the cake cool, then cut into squares to serve.


    Culinate editor's note: You can easily halve this recipe and make a smaller cake; just use a 8-by-11.5-inch pan instead. Bake for 20 minutes.