Thursday, February 27, 2014

Texas Sheet Cake

I like cake.  My small group came over last night, and I used it as an opportunity to unleash a new recipe.  A Cooking Light reader recently revealed this as her go-to dessert for church suppers, funerals, and baby births for the past decade, and I knew it had to be good.  I mean, if it's someone's standby for every occasion, something's got to be right with it, right?  Sure enough, this cake was (and is - anyone want to come eat some?) delicious.  With a thin layer of dense chocolate cake topped by cooked fudge icing and pecans, Texas sheet cake has made it into my recipe arsenal, and here's hoping it finds a home in yours.

Texas Sheet Cake

Oil/Butter/Shortening to prepare pan
2 tsp. flour for pan

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs

6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat a 15 x 10-inch pan with oil, butter, or shortening, and dust with flour.  Set aside.

Stir together flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.  In a saucepan, combine water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa.  Bring to a boil, stirring, frequently.  Pour into flour mixture, and beat at medium speed until well blended.  Add buttermilk, 1 tsp. vanilla, and eggs; beat well.  Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For the icing, combine 6 tablespoons butter, milk, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, and gradually stir in powdered sugar.  Stir in 2 tsp. vanilla and pecans, and spread mixture over hot cake.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

The Measuring Cup Set is so valuable when baking.  With the Leveler Tool, you can make sure you have exactly what you need in your cup.  Here, I'm measuring into a Stainless Mixing Bowl where I'll whisk my first set of ingredients together.

If I'm making a cake from absolute scratch like this, I want to use good ingredients.  Enter: Pampered Chef's Cinnamon from the Pampered Pantry.  All of our seasonings are excellent, but this is my favorite.  It takes a recipe from having a bit of cinnamon to, "Wow, the cinnamon in this adds so much!"  As always, I'm prepping my ingredients before mixing everything together.  That way there's no confusion about whether or not something has already been added.  My flour and sugar are in a Stainless Mixing Bowl, my cinnamon is in a Measuring Spoon, and my baking soda is in a Pinch Bowl.  The trusty Stainless Whisk is ready to combine the dry ingredients perfectly.

This is an excellent use for the Stainless Silicone Whisk.  When you've got a sauce or something you need to stir in your Executive Cookware, you can just hammer away at it without worrying about scratching the pan.  For my chocolate mixture, I have the water in an Easy Read Measuring Cup, butter in a Prep Bowl, and cocoa in a Measuring Cup.  Everything is on the Large Cutting Board, my go-to for all prep work.

One of my favorite features about the Executive Cookware is the lip design.  With this saucepan, I don't have to worry about my chocolate mixture dripping everywhere while I'm trying to pour it in the mixer.  Here's the scenario: Fast mixer, hot pan, liquid chocolate that just came off the boil.  Do you think I want to deal with drips right now?  The Pampered Chef knows this, and they design their products around it.

First of all, 1 tsp. of my vanilla is mixed with the buttermilk already, so don't be scared of that weird concoction.  That's one of my shortcuts when cooking and baking; if multiple ingredients are poured at the same time, go ahead and combine them.  You can see my eggs are already cracked into a 1-Cup Prep Bowl.  Do not skip this step!  If you crack an egg directly into cake batter, you can't salvage anything if there's blood in the egg.  I've only had two bloody eggs in all of my cooking, but the last one was a few weeks ago, and it was bad enough to make me switch brands.  Had I cracked what I found in that egg directly into this cake batter that required me to cook chocolate sauce, I'd have cried.  Then I'd have thrown some things and cried some more.  Truth.

You know I'm excited to use my Large Bar Pan!  This is my favorite piece in the entire Stoneware collection, and you can tell by those beautifully browned sides.  Never use Pam or any other aerosol spray with your Stoneware!  The additives will create a cakey, mucky sludge that's next to impossible to get off, and that's not warrantable for a replacement.  Instead, get the Kitchen Spritzer, add your own oil, and use that it spray pans as needed.  Of course, you can also just brush some oil or butter as needed.  With seasoned stones such as this, I don't add anything to the pan unless I'm doing a cake or bread.  Since those items are finicky about sticking, I take the "Better safe than sorry" approach.

Here's the best system for measuring powdered sugar.  Measure over the Small Batter Bowl, dump into a Stainless Mixing Bowl, and pour what's in the Small Batter Bowl back into your container.  This is so much easier than measuring over your container or bag.  Does it mean one extra dish dirtied?  Yes.  Is it worth it not to have powdered sugar all over your kitchen?  Absolutely.

Let me leave you with this because I care.  This is the next morning when I still have 3/4 of my pan full of cake.  Who's coming to help me out?  Thank you, Lord, for freezers.
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