Buttermilk Chocolate Sheet Cake






Long before fondant dominated the Food Network and entire shows were dedicated to bakeries who could fashion cakes into realistic reproductions of Hogwarts Castle, there was the sheet cake.  The sheet cake is, for those who prefer not to spend more on a cake than they’d spend on a car payment, the go-to dessert for family or professional gatherings, celebrating birthdays, baby showers, graduations, and office farewells.

As far as I can tell, the world is divided into two groups of people: those who want the corner piece, and those who do not (much like those who want raisins in their oatmeal cookies, and those who do not).  We corner-piece folks cannot imagine why others prefer the cake to the frosting, for it is precisely the ample portion of frosting—on all three sides—that draws us to the corner piece in the first place.

This recipe is also known as a Texas Sheet Cake and employs an interesting technique of cooking cocoa powder and butter for both the batter and the frosting, and by pouring the frosting over the cake while it is still warm.  The recipe can be baked in a 15x10x1 jelly roll pan for 25 minutes, but as I don’t have one of those (yet) I employed my 13x9x2 and it worked just fine.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Grease and flour a 13x9x2 sheet cake pan; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, cocoa powder, and water.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture just comes to a boil.

Remove from heat and combine with dry ingredients, beating on medium speed until well-combined.

Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for one minute.  Batter will be very thin.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Just after the cake has come out of the oven, prepare the frosting so that it can be spread on the cake while the cake is still warm.

Buttermilk Chocolate Frosting


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a medium saucepan, combine butter, cocoa powder, and buttermilk.

Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.

Remove from heat and vigorously stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.

Pour over warm cake and spread with a spatula.


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