Northeast Times

A treat from Texas

Cel­eb­rate with cake: The per­fect cake for any oc­ca­sion.

With the months of May and June come gradu­ations, wed­dings, birth­days, and… sum­mer heat. There’s al­ways some kind of cel­eb­ra­tion that calls for cake — es­pe­cially chocol­ate cake. But no one wants to hang out in the kit­chen for too long now. What bet­ter way to cel­eb­rate an oc­ca­sion than with a dense, rich, moist cake topped with a vel­vety-smooth chocol­ate icing. Dec­ad­ence — your name is Texas Chocol­ate Sheet Cake.

Made, baked and fros­ted in less than an hour, this homemade chocol­ate cake is big enough to feed the gradu­at­ing class, the brides­maids, the birth­day bash­ers… You get the pic­ture. I have made this cake for vari­ous func­tions, and wherever it was sampled, someone in­vari­ably re­ques­ted a copy of the re­cipe.

Cross­ing a few state bor­ders, passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, the Texas Sheet Cake ar­rived in my kit­chen via my Aunt Cath­er­ine. She had spent some time in Lub­bock, Texas, when my uncle was in the ser­vice. A friend there had shared the re­cipe for this chocol­ate cake with her, which she later shared with my fam­ily. A mil­lion chocol­ate crumbs later, and the rest is his­tory.

Curi­os­ity about the real ori­gins of the cake took me to the In­ter­net, where sev­er­al re­cipes sim­il­ar to mine ap­peared. Some food his­tor­i­ans tried to link Lady Bird John­son with the ori­gin. Oth­er re­cipes in­sisted that one tea­spoon of cin­na­mon be ad­ded to the cake and to the icing. Some re­cipes ad­ded sour cream. Oth­er food­ies be­lieved the cake to be a vari­ation of the Ger­man Chocol­ate Sweet Cake.

An­oth­er curi­os­ity was in the name. My aunt had writ­ten the re­cipe as a “Sheath Cake.” We al­ways thought there was a typo in the name, but lo and be­hold on page 89 of Our Fair Lady: Re­cipes, pub­lished by As­so­ci­ated Wo­men For Chris­ti­an Edu­ca­tion, Galve­ston, Texas, I found her ex­act re­cipe lis­ted un­der Texas Sheet Cake as Co­coa Sheath Cake. One of the con­trib­ut­ors to the cook­book was a col­lege in Lub­bock, Texas. And so, the re­cipe has come full circle. Not only did the re­cipe ori­gin­ate in Lub­bock, Texas, but my aunt had it right from the get-go.

My Aunt Cath­er­ine, a very good cook, hos­ted sev­er­al hol­i­day din­ners at her house. To this day, I have to chuckle when I re­mem­ber her in the kit­chen with my moth­er after clear­ing and clean­ing the hol­i­day dishes. She would take off her ap­ron and, with a sigh, say to my mom, Soph­ie, “Well, Kid, looks like we’re all fin­ished here. Let’s re­lax. How about a high­ball?” 

Some re­cipes evoke good memor­ies of the people who made and shared them. They’re a culin­ary trip down memory lane. Texas Sheet (Sheath) Cake is one of them.

TEXAS CHOCOL­ATE SHEET (SHEATH) CAKE

Cake:

2 cups flour

2 cups sug­ar

1 stick but­ter (broken up)

½ cup short­en­ing

4 Tb­sp. co­coa

1 cup wa­ter

½ cup but­ter­milk (or use 2 tsps. vin­eg­ar and re­mainder of milk to fill to ½ cup. Let rest a few minutes be­fore use.)

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. bak­ing soda

- Pre­heat oven to 400 de­grees.

- Sift flour and sug­ar to­geth­er. Set aside.

- Put but­ter, short­en­ing, co­coa and wa­ter in­to a large sauce­pan. Stir and bring to a rap­id boil.  

- Cool slightly.

- Add flour mix­ture to sauce­pan, and us­ing a hand mix­er, beat to in­cor­por­ate.

- Add but­ter­milk, eggs, vanilla and bak­ing soda, and beat well.

- Pour in­to a greased and floured jel­lyroll pan. (16”x11”x1”)

- Bake 25-30 minutes.

*SAVE SAUCE­PAN AND BEAT­ERS TO MAKE ICING. NO NEED TO WASH THEM. USE THEM AS IS.*

Icing:

1 stick but­ter

4 Tb­sp. co­coa

1/3 cup milk

1 box (1 lb.) con­fec­tion­er’s sug­ar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup nuts, chopped – wal­nuts or pecans

- Mix but­ter, co­coa and milk. Stir and bring to a boil. Re­move from heat.

- Add con­fec­tion­er’s sug­ar, vanilla and nuts. Mix well with beat­ers.

- Pour icing onto cake and spread evenly.

- Ice cake while ICING and CAKE are WARM.

Icing firms up quickly.

Eat well, live long, en­joy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at Whats­cook­in­NEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the North­east Times, 3412 Pro­gress Drive, Suite C, Ben­s­alem, PA 19020)

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