Everyday Cooking

Mable's Texas Sheet Cake

August  5, 2013

Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.

Today: A cake to bring out everyone's inner child.

Mable's Texas Sheet Cake from Food52 

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I like a good office birthday. Not my own, of course. On my birthday I call in sick and get a pedicure. But I enjoy the minor spectacle of someone else’s special day -- the off key singing, the cracks about agedness, and of course, OF COURSE, cake. 

So the other day, when I learned that one of my colleagues on the Hill would be present and accounted for on his birthday, I decided cake was in order. For large groups, a sheet cake really fits the bill, and I found a receptive audience with Mable's Texas Sheet Cake

Let me just tell you people something right out of the gate: this cake is very sweet. Were I to rework this recipe myself, I might find a way to up the chocolate. But something about it seems to bring out everyone’s inner child, as some otherwise reasonable colleagues helped themselves to a second piece (I doubled the recipe and brought one cake to a work lunch) and many said it reminded them of them of the cake their mommy used to make. (Including the birthday boy, who recounted licking the beaters. He’s in his 40s so I found this most charming.)

Major weekday bonus points: no mixer required. This cake is all mixed by hand, in under 20 minutes. Please get whimsical candles.  

Mable's Texas Sheet Cake from Food52

Mable's Texas Sheet Cake by Gibson2011

Makes one 13x18 cake


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
2 eggs, room temp
2 egg yolks, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cups water
1/2 cup cocoa
4 tablespoons unsalted butter


8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon corn syrup or honey
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup toasted pecans, optional

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here. 

Photos by James Ransom

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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


Alice G. October 30, 2013
Texas cake was my grandpa's favorite dessert which he always asked my mom for on his birthday. Thanks for the recipe. I'll make it and think of him!
Lorac August 25, 2013
My mother used to make a Texas Sheet Cake that had vinigar in it. I have been looking for the recipe for years!! Anyone have one?
Cinnamon August 13, 2015
If you look up Moosewood's Six Minute Chocolate Cake, that might get you in the ballpark. You can do just about anything with that base. It doesn't taste like my family's Texas Sheet Cake at all, and wouldn't resemble this one, either, but it's a super-easy vinegar-leavened cake which I have made in several sizes and shapes of pans. (I recommend mixing in a bowl rather than the pan, and after 20 years of experimentation, it has never hurt it to mix in the bowl. After the nasty, unmixed baking soda bite from a coworker's mix-in-the-pan "treat", I don't advocate others using her method.)
Gibson2011 August 6, 2013
witloof, that sounds like a great idea. I'll give it a try the next time I make it.
witloof August 6, 2013
I wonder what it would do to swap out a quarter of the flour for some additional powdered chocolate.
Jestei August 12, 2013
i think that is a great idea.
PatriciaScarpin August 6, 2013
It looks delish! I love the nuts sprinkled on top.
Jestei August 12, 2013
yes to nuts some days
Karena D. August 5, 2013
I just died.
Jestei August 12, 2013
NM E. August 5, 2013
Been eating this since I was in high school. Best chocolate cake ever! Dense, moist, and a sugary, chocolatey icing! Goes great with a tall glass of milk!
Jestei August 12, 2013
how cool!
AntoniaJames August 5, 2013
Wow. This one brings back vivid memories of birthday cakes in the 60's. I get a serious buzz just reading recipes like this. Have you read Michael Krondl's "Sweet Invention"? His writing, to put it kindly, leaves much to be desired, but his interesting chapter on the evolution of American desserts and candy goes into some detail on the point you made, about how desserts like this bring out the child in us (in the U.S.). ;o)
Jestei August 12, 2013
no will look for that antonia!
phyllis August 5, 2013
I host a largish 4th of July BBQ and have been baking this sheet cake for the past few years. It is too sweet for me but everyone loves it. Mine uses buttermilk.
Jestei August 12, 2013
i like cakes with buttermilk
maryw.s. August 5, 2013
Cooking Light had this same cake a few years ago-they used milk instead of the heavy cream. It was still very good.
Jestei August 12, 2013
maybe with less sugar?