Let Them Eat Cake!

Texas Sheet Cake....you know you want it, you know you're gonna make it!

I think I mentioned at some point, probably in one of the 10 question posts, that when I was a kid I loved to bake. Fast forward well into adulthood, and I really don’t bake that often. I guess it’s partly due to the fact that if I bake sweets, I’ll eat ‘em, and if I eat ‘em, well, let’s just mention that slow metabolism once again and leave it at that! The other problem though, and the reason I don’t bake bread, is that my oven has issues. The main issue has been a broken seal, which my dear husband just replaced. “Why don’t you just get a new oven,” one might ask? Time and hassle, but it’s coming, yes it’s coming… Meanwhile, this relatively simple fix seems to have transformed my oven into a decent space to bake once again, and so this week I did just that with a vengeance.

This refreshing orange curd is pretty awesome!

It all began with some inspiration provided by a fellow blogger—Sharyn of The Kale Chronicles—on making Tangerine Curd and you can see that post here. I’ve been getting a good amount of citrus from my CSA lately, and up to this point hadn’t really done anything creative with it…just too busy with work or just plain lazy, I can’t really say why! Then last week, Cecilia over at The Kitchen’s Garden posted about her lemon curd and using it in a Lemon Butter Cake, which sounded good and can be seen here. It looked so easy, I thought why not? I don’t have lemons, but I bet I could make Sharyn’s recipe for curd with my oranges and then Cecilia’s recipe with the orange curd instead of lemon, and that’s exactly what I did.

Orange butter cake, my version of Cecilia's lemon butter cake...yummy!

The orange curd was delicious…and so easy to make that I now can’t figure out why I haven’t made curd before…but I can tell you I certainly will again. The oranges are much less potent and lighter tasting than lemon, so I wondered how this might impact Cecila’s cake. I did squeeze a bit of lemon over the top, and it made a wonderful, flavorful and densely-crumbed cake…we loved it. I tried serving it the way she did in her lemon version, with fresh mint mixed into greek yogurt, which was good, but would have been better with lemon’s stronger flavor. I then tried splitting a slice of cake, filling it with more orange curd and serving plain yogurt alongside. This was delicious and a great balance. But of course, the very best was the plain cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which enhanced the flavor of the curd within the cake as well as the bit of vanilla called for in the cake recipe. Both of these recipes are keepers in my book, and thanks, ladies, for breaking me out of my non-cake baking mode…my husband is thrilled that I’m baking again, and my waistline…not so much!

Who can resist a sheet of chocolatey goodness...not me!

Within the next 24 hours, I’d turned into a baking madwoman relatively speaking, and I decided I needed to make a cake for a party. I’d read this really scrumptious sounding recipe in last month’s Cooking Light magazine for what they called a Texas Sheet Cake. It reminded me of a very similar cake that my mom made when I was a child called a Mississippi Mud Cake, which I have never made. Hers was a dense devil’s food cake, spiced with cinnamon and topped with a thick layer of fudge-like icing with toasted pecans. Truly a lovely cake, and really very rich, as I recall. This cake was calling to me, so I tried out the magazine recipe and it was magnificent. This Texas Sheet Cake has all the same flavors of the Mississippi Mud, but seems a bit lighter in texture and the icing is more of a glaze over the top rather than a thicker traditional fudge icing. Given the small adjustments I made, there may not be any significant caloric savings between the two versions because I just had to fuss with it a teensy bit. The important part is that it was a real winner in the taste department and everyone raved, so I’m keeping this one in the rotation…watch out friends, you’re probably gonna see this one a lot this year!

So all in all, the last 4 days resulted in not one, but two cakes and a lovely orange curd…that’s more cakes than I’ve made in the last two years and more dessert-like items in one week since, well, Christmas! Thank goodness for friends, the freezer and sunny days to try and power walk it all off…

Texas Sheet Cake (slightly adapted from Cooking Light)

Cake:
2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra to flour the pan
2 cups cane sugar or granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 generous teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 generous teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the pan
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla, good quality like Madagascar Bourbon
2 large eggs

Icing:
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk, I used 2%
1/4 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla, good quality
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and then coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 15 x 10 inch jelly-roll pan and then dust with flour. Set aside. Combine 2 cups of flour, the cane or granulated sugar, the baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, combine 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup cocoa and 1/2 cup butter over medium low heat, stirring until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and add to the flour mixture. Beat with a hand mixer until well blended. Add the buttermilk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and the eggs and beat well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 17-19 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place cake in pan on a wire rack.

Combine the 6 tablespoons of butter, the milk, and 1/4 cup of cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the powdered sugar. Stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla and the nuts. Spread evenly over the hot cake. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

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49 thoughts on “Let Them Eat Cake!

    • You’re most welcome, Sharyn. Thanks for the inspiration…I’m a curd making fool now! Yes, lots of cake here…I gave away a lot, but still we have more sweets than usual around here. I think I may have cake baking out of my system for a little while at least!

  1. Oh you darling darling girl. as soon as i get some good oranges i will make my cake your way.. i bet it is just grand.. today I made lemon honey marmalade.. stand by for that one!!!

  2. Oh, my goodness, I bet your oven would have been fixed sooner had someone known what could come of it! Or, rather, out of it! I love both cakes but can almost taste the icing in the sheet cake, wow!

  3. This sheet cake looks and sounds incredible! I know what you mean about the big pitfall with baking. If I bake it, I eat it. I’d be more than happy to just have a piece or two but what kind of a gift would a partial cake make? Nor would I feel comfortable giving the entire cake to a friend and then inviting myself to a piece or two. No, it’s best I reserve my baking to parties and special events, when there are plenty of people around. Well, maybe one sheet cake would’t be so bad for myself.

    • This does make a big sheet cake, John, but it’s so light you kinda feel like it’s okay to eat a few pieces…very dangerous indeed! Even though I made it for a party, we still ended up with some leftover, oh darn. Still, perhaps you can make one for yourself, half the recipe and put some in the freezer for a later date? :)

  4. Hi Betsy, I’m so happy to discover your blog – thanks so much for dropping by mine earlier today :)

    My wife makes amazing lemon curd… I never tried orange curd, but curds in general are wonderful. It’s like spreading on a sweet butter – so yummy, and your orange butter cake looks “amazing”!

    The Texas Sheet cake, I’m going to “hmph” and feel jealous about, because it seems pecans are really common in baking in the US and not so much in Europe alas :( I love them so much. I could make it, but they’re pretty expensive :(

    • Hi Charles, I’m so pleased you stopped by and thank you for your comments! I’ve become so enamored of curd now, that I may never be without it in the house again! :)

      I’m sorry about the lack of pecans where you are…I guess they are kind of a U.S. ingredient and very common in the South. I had some arrive in my CSA box, which is why I used them for this cake. They’ve become rather expensive here of late as well if you buy them in the stores…I don’t think it was the best year for them. I’m thinking you could sub walnuts or even almonds in this cake icing if those are more plentiful and cheaper where you live. Both those nuts are pretty awesome with chocolate and cinnamon in my opinion!

    • I’m normally not a big sweet eater, but once I do start it’s hard to stop. Both the curd and the Texas sheet cake seem so light and airy, they are particularly tempting. Thanks for you comments…and do eat some cake! :)

  5. Did I ever mention we make great taste testers? This sounds just like what my Mom calls cookie sheet cake. I’ll have to compare it to her recipe…maybe we can have a bake-off? ;)

    • That’s a great idea, Toby! Next time I make a cake, I’ll get you guys to taste test for me. I’d love to share and I’d love to get it out of the house before we eat it all! A bake-off would be fun…game on. :)

  6. Betsy, your Texas Sheet Cake has me drooling. That is high on my list of things to make in the near future — I just need to make sure that I make it when company is coming or else I’m in big trouble. You know I bought the jelly roll pan to make a sheet cake several years ago (inspired by an Ina Garten recipe) and then it wouldn’t fit in my small oven. We’ve since moved and yet I still haven’t made a sheet cake. Now I can’t wait!

    • Hi Barb! I can now add “eating more cake this week than in the last two years combined” to the above statement, so I’d have to encourage having company to help…I also think your ponytails would love this cake. I gave away a lot of it, too, but still we have two pieces left. It’s so good and light that it’s tempting to eat more than one piece in a sitting! I’d forgotten I had a jelly-roll pan (I actually made a jelly roll years ago) until I read this recipe. It’s a great pan for cakes and makes such a nice, even and thinner cake…I love it!

    • Thanks, Kay, and I think you should make it for yourself! It’s fun, it’s delicious, you can share with friends, and you’re young enough that you can still work it off…if you even have that problem! ;)

  7. I would love a slice of cake right about now and your cakes look so delicious. I love the one with the orange curd. I’ve not made orange curd before, only lemon curd but I’d love to try making curd with oranges.

    • I think you’d love the orange curd, Charlie. I find it to be lighter and less tart than the lemon, really it’s own unique thing. Now I want to try making some lemon, some raspberry and some of your lovely sounding passionfruit curd!

  8. I empathise with your oven situation – making cakes here just isn’t the same as making them at home!
    …so seeing this recipe makes me want to go back all the more, so I can gorge on cake!

  9. Pingback: A Year Ago… | bits and breadcrumbs

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