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Texas Sheet Cake
A Treat as Big as Texas

By Staff Favorites
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An occasional series in which staff members share a recipe that we turn to time and again:

Another invitation to a summertime barbecue and I'm asked to bring dessert, again. I don't know when I became the official baker among my relatives, friends and co-workers. I'm routinely asked to bring the dessert, the birthday cake, the treats for my daughter's class.

My mother was my baking teacher when I was a little girl, and I have a vivid memory of making my first cake. I was using the hand mixer to beat the batter, and when my mother told me to stop mixing, I pulled the beaters out -- without turning the mixer off. You can guess what happened, and you can imagine the look on our faces. We laughed until we cried.

I've been baking ever since. My oldest brother says I make the world's best chocolate chip cookies.

Summer isn't a time to have the oven on for long. That's what makes the Texas Sheet Cake a popular treat for the season's barbecues. You bake it for 22 minutes, and it's big enough to feed a crowd.

My mom passed this recipe to me from my grandmother, who lived in Ohio. It's a popular tailgating recipe among Ohioans and a favorite of my family.

-- Aimee Sanders

Aimee Sanders is an assistant systems editor for The Post.

Texas Sheet Cake

Makes 50 1 1/2 -by-2-inch bars

No one seems to know how this cake got its name, but it's a good bet that size had a lot to do with it.

For the cake:

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup water

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup low-fat or nonfat milk

1 pound confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready a lightly greased jellyroll pan or 1-inch-deep rimmed baking sheet.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, water and cocoa powder and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour, sugar and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add the eggs, sour cream and baking soda, and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 22 minutes (the cake will spring back to the touch when done). Do not overbake. Transfer the pan to a wire rack.

For the frosting: When the cake is almost done baking, combine the butter, cocoa powder and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla, stirring to combine. (The frosting will be pourable at this point; it will thicken as it cools.) Pour the warm frosting over the hot cake.

Let cool completely and cut into bars.

Per bar: 141 calories, 1 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 24 mg cholesterol, 4 g saturated fat, 31 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Randy Richter; e-mail questions tofood@washpost.com

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