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Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever . . . Really!

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

For as long as I can remember, my mom (Eva Sue Akins, author of this cookbook), has been making this Buttermilk Chocolate Sheet Cake (page 99). I'm pretty sure my dad and brothers could sit and eat an entire cake! Personally, I liked it, but it wasn't until I started making it myself that I really fell in love with it. Until this past summer, I probably had only made it a few times, because I never had the correct size pan. And let me say right here, THAT SIZE MATTERS, at least when it comes to the sheet pan you use for this cake. I'm sure some of you will say to yourselves, "I have something close, it can't make that much difference." But believe me, it won't turn out well. So do yourself a favor and get a 15.5" x 10.5" x 1" cookie sheet, or jelly roll pan - you won't regret it.

Mom sent me this T-fal AirBake pan for my birthday this year, and its been a great gift! Unfortunately, I can't seem to find it anywhere now. Ugh! I even sent a message to T-fal asking where I could purchase one, and they replied it's no longer being made. I'm tempted to start a petition to get them to make it again! It's not that you can't find this size anywhere else, but the AirBake is so nice and having a lid for the pan keeps the cake fresh and moist for a week. But have no fear, I have another option for you. Amazon does have an OvenStuff non-stick sheet cake pan without a lid which will work just fine. You will need to use foil over the top to keep it fresh. This cake freezes very well - more about that later.

This summer my husband Scott and I had people over for dinner almost every Sunday night and I made this Buttermilk Chocolate Sheet Cake and homemade ice cream at least 10 times! Both were big hits, but the cake got rave reviews every single time!!

It's so incredibly easy to make, but while a friend was visiting and watched me make it she told me she would have needed some extra tips to get it right the first time. So here I am, writing my first blog - about chocolate sheet cake.

Here's a photo of everything you'll need to make this cake. It's so simple - you mix up both the cake batter and the frosting in a large sauce pan.

The recipe for the cake which can be found in Eva Sue's Kitchen cookbook has 3 sections (frosting has 2 sections):

  • Heating the butter, oil, water and cocoa

  • Adding the dry ingredients

  • Adding the buttermilk, eggs, leavening and vanilla.

You can work each section as you go, or I like to get all my ingredients out and measured so the process from heating to having the batter in the pan goes super fast.


Heating section:

You'll start by heating in the pan butter, cocoa, water, and oil, stirring to combine it all. When it comes to a boil you take it off the stove to add the dry ingredients.

Dry Ingredients section:

I like to measure out all my ingredients before I start, but you don't have to do it this way. You can measure out ingredients as you go. I just find that it's easier for me to have all my measuring tools out at one time, then I just put it all together.

So for me, once the butter/cocoa mixture has been heated, I simply take it off the store and put the pan on a potholder on the counter. I pour in my dry ingredients which I already combined, and mix well with my hand mixer.

So fast to just mix up with your hand mixer - no need to get out the big stand mixer.

Buttermilk section:

Add in the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla. Then mix again with your hand mixer. That's it - so simple! I think it's the buttermilk that makes this cake so moist and the cinnamon that makes it have such a warm, rich chocolate taste.

Now just pour the batter in your greased 15.5"x10.5" pan and bake at 400° for 20 minutes. The cake batter is a beautiful warm brown color and smells wonderful.

When the cake is done it will look like this:


This is a very simple frosting, but the key is to make it as soon as you take the cake out of the oven so that you get the frosting on the cake while it's still warm. This is very important because the frosting sort of melts into the cake and keeps it very moist!

Making the frosting is a lot like making the cake - a heating section then adding the dry ingredient and vanilla. I use the exact same sauce pan and hand mixer I used to make the cake batter. While the cake is cooking rinse out the sauce pan, mixer beaters and then you can just reuse them to make the frosting. Also while the cake is baking I get all my frosting ingredients measured and ready.

Heating section:

You'll start by heating in the sauce pan butter, cocoa, and buttermilk, stirring constantly.

As it heats it will look funny because the ingredients look like they are separating. Don't panic - it's supposed to look that way! It's all good, so just keep stirring until it comes to a boil.

Dry Ingredient section:

When it comes to a boil you take it off the stove to add the dry ingredient (which is just a box of powdered sugar). I just put the sauce pan on a potholder on the counter to add the powered sugar and vanilla.

Blend it until smooth with your hand mixer.

Pour the frosting immediately on the warm cake and smooth out to cover to the very edges of the pan. You want the frosting to almost form a seal for the cake - this helps keep it super moist.

And you are done!! Time to enjoy this delicious chocolate cake!

Doesn't it look yummy - I wish you could smell it.

Finally, if by chance your family doesn't eat the whole cake within a day or so, this cake can be cut and put in the freezer for another day. It really does freeze surprisingly well! Once frozen, you can take a single piece out and heat in the microwave for 35-45 seconds and I bet you won't be able to tell it wasn't straight out of the oven! My dad loves this cake so much he has "requested" that mom keep it in the freezer at all times, lol.

I found this great food storage container that is the perfect size for exactly half of the cake. It's the Lustroware Shallow Food Keeper for $8.99 at the Container Store. I bought 2 and can fit an entire cake neatly in the freezer (not that I ever have that much cake left over!) Click on the underlined name above for the link.

Give this cake a try - you won't regret it. And reach out to us if you have any questions.

- Susan Griffiths

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