When Michelle Lopez immigrated to Houston from Manila as a young person, her household’s new neighbors all dropped off the identical welcome dessert: Texas sheet cake.
Their kitchen was stuffed with 5 skinny slabs of moist chocolate cake, every adorned with a pecan-laden chewy fudge frosting.
“My household had by no means had something like that earlier than,” stated Ms. Lopez, 34. But it surely shortly turned a staple of their lives in Texas — showing at soccer tournaments, birthdays and barbecues.
Later, when she moved to Portland, Ore., and missed the Texas sheet desserts of her childhood, she developed a recipe for one on her baking weblog, Hummingbird Excessive.
“I used to be attempting to explain it to a buddy of mine, and I used to be like, do you bear in mind Little Debbie Brownies from after we have been youthful?” she stated. “It is sort of a higher model of these.”
At a primary degree, a Texas sheet cake — additionally known as a sheath cake, Texas funeral cake or Texas brownie cake — is a chocolate cake with chocolate icing made in a shallow jelly roll pan. For numerous Texans (and plenty of others), it’s the platonic preferrred of dessert: the excessive ratio of icing to cake, the crunchy-gone-slightly-soggy high quality of the pecans, even the best way the frosting is made — on a stovetop, then poured heat over the cake to solidify right into a thick blanket of chocolate. It’s a easy, elegant cake that doesn’t require whipping egg whites to stiff peaks, or, much more agonizingly, ready for a cake to chill earlier than frosting it.
At any massive gathering Nola McKey attended whereas rising up in Telferner, Texas, “you might at all times depend on a Texas sheet cake being there,” she stated.
“I can’t say that I particularly bear in mind it, however I assure you it was there,” added Ms. McKey, 74, the creator of “From Tea Truffles to Tamales: Third-Technology Texas Recipes.”
Texas sheet cake has turn into a cultural touchstone and one thing many Texans have adopted as a part of their identification (and sure, being from Texas is an identification). The cake, together with peach cobbler and pecan pie, belongs in “the trinity of Texas iconic desserts,” stated Lisa Fain, who runs the “Homesick Texan” weblog, which she began in 2005 whereas dwelling in New York. (She moved again to Texas in 2019.)
Texas sheet cake aligns nicely with life within the Lone Star state, added Ms. Fain, 52. The frosting isn’t as vulnerable to melting within the relentless warmth — thanks partly to the usage of melted butter stabilized with cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar — and the dessert is transportable, making it appropriate for yard barbecues and different gatherings. The pecan can be the official Texas state tree.
Whereas the Texas sheet cake’s actual origins are robust to pin down, there are references in books to chocolate desserts made in jelly roll pans with stovetop chocolate icing relationship way back to the late nineteenth century, like within the 1883 “The Texas Cookbook” by the Girls’ Affiliation of the First Presbyterian Church in Houston. But it surely is probably not uniquely Texan; Coloradans additionally lay declare to an identical cake, and a recipe for the confection additionally seems in “The Huntsville Heritage Cookbook,” revealed by members of Alabama’s Grace Membership Auxiliary in 1967.
That hasn’t stopped Texans from advertising the cake like a mascot. In Could, the Texas-based ice cream firm Blue Bell introduced a Texas sheet cake taste, after Lick, a preferred native ice cream store, did the identical. The Texas State Honest has provided fried Texas sheet cake. The beloved Texas grocer H-E-B sells a Texas sheet cake combine.
The cake has additionally impressed variations that incorporate components like Dr Pepper or chile powder. These variations, in flip, have engendered sturdy opinions.
Ms. Lopez, the Hummingbird Excessive blogger, is keen to attempt making white Texas sheet cake, a model she has seen made with vanilla as a substitute of chocolate.
Ms. Fain, however, was baffled by the notion of a Texas sheet cake with out the cocoa.
“I’m like, why would you try this?” she stated.
Recipe: Texas Sheet Cake