Texas sheet cake is abundantly chocolate

March 13, 2013 

My father-in-law turned 87 last week, and one thing he loves almost as much as his great-granddaughter is chocolate.

He had to have a chocolate birthday cake, but not just any cake -- my grandmother's Texas sheet cake. This is the ultimate chocolate cake: It's rich and chocolaty without being too dark and bitter. Because parts of the batter and the icing are cooked, the flavor is more intense and melts in your mouth.

As Easter is approaching, this cake makes a great dessert. Since it is a cake that stays in the pan, the top can be decorated with icing grass and candy eggs and maybe a bunny or two. If flowers are more to your liking, daisies or drop flowers can be piped on the cake.

Texas sheet cake is done from start to finish in less than 35 minutes. It also travels well, not like the bunny cake that I did the first year Allen and I were married. The decorated bunny looked beautiful when we started out, but by the time we reached my in-laws, the rabbit had no ears. They were in my lap. It was a top-heavy bunny.

My granddaughter sat in her jumper and watched as I made the birthday cake, just like I did when my grandmother made this cake. Lilly, with frosting all over her face, loved licking the frosting spoon, too.

My father-in-law, who always insists that leftovers go home with us, kept slices of this chocolate cake. Enough said.

Here is the recipe in case you need a quick-fix cake or need a chocolate fix.

TEXAS SHEET CAKE

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Step 1:

Put 1 stick oleo, 3- 1/2 tablespoons cocoa, 1 cup water and 1/2 cup

shortening in pan and bring to boil.

Step 2:

Sift 2 cups flour and 2 cups sugar into large mixing bowl. Pour Step 1 into it.

Step 3:

Mix together in separate bowl 2 well-beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 cup buttermilk. Add to Steps 1 and 2.

Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on the oven. Start checking at 20 minutes.

After cake has been baking 15 minutes, start making icing.

ICING

Stirring constantly and bring to a good boil:

1 stick butter

3- 1/2 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 cup sweet milk

Add:

1 box powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup pecans, optional

Ice cake while hot. Andrea's note: I omitted the pecans because my 21-year-old daughter doesn't like pecans.

Tomato cakes

Readers have shared many tomato soup cake recipes, but two Florida readers have sent in three cakes that are different from the ones previously published. Gerry Bruno of Bradenton uses mayonnaise in place of shortening in the cake and in the frosting. Betty Alexander, also of Bradenton, makes a tomato carrot spice cake and spiced tomato soup cancakes.

"I am formerly from New Jersey, where this recipe was a tradition in my family for years," said Bruno. "I hope it is enjoyed."

TOMATO SOUP CAKE

2- 1/2 cups cake flour or 2 cups well-sifted regular flour

1-1/3 cups white sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1- 1/2 teaspoons allspice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 can (10-1/4 ounces) Campbell's tomato soup

1/2 cup shortening or mayonnaise

2 eggs

1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 8-inch layer pans or a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan.

Measure dry ingredients into large bowl. Add soup and shortening. Beat on low for 2 minutes. Keep scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Add 2 eggs and water; beat 2 minutes more, thoroughly.

Pour into pans and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove to cake racks and when cool, frost.

MAYONNAISE ICING

1/3 cup Hellman's mayonnaise

1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In medium bowl, to mayonnaise add the sugar, beating hard and smooth until all blended in with no lumps. Drip in the vanilla; blend.

Chill 10 minutes; then frost cake.

-- Submitted by Gerry Bruno

These recipes sent in by Alexander are from Campbell's Kitchen.

TOMATO CARROT SPICE CAKE

Vegetable cooking spray

2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) Campbell's condensed Tomato Soup

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1-3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large carrots, finely shredded (about 3 cups)

1 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons orange peel

2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup fluted tube cake pan with the cooking spray.

Mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl.

Beat the eggs with a fork or wire whisk in another large bowl. Beat in the soup, oil, sugar and vanilla. Stir in the carrots.

Add the soup mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just to moisten. Stir in the raisins and walnuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

Stir the cream, orange peel and liqueur in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is stiff. Serve the whipped cream mixture with the cake.

-- Submitted by Betty Alexander

These cakes are baked in soup cans and would make a "little happy" for friends or family.

SPICE TOMATO SOUP CANCAKES

Vegetable cooking spray

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/3 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1- 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2 eggs

1/4 cup water

Orange Icing

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 7 empty (10-3/4 ounce) soup cans with the cooking spray.

Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, baking soda and cloves in a medium bowl. Add the soup, shortening, eggs and water. Beat until mixed, using an electric mixer at low speed. Spoon into the prepared cans and place them on a baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool in the cans on wire racks. Remove the cakes from the cans.

Drizzle the tops and sides of the cakes with Orange Icing. Top with orange zest, chopped nuts or red candied cherries cut in "leaves."

ORANGE ICING

Mix 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons orange juice and 1 teaspoon grated orange rind in a small bowl until it's smooth.

For gift-giving: Leave the cakes in the cans. Cover the cans with wrapping paper. Add pieces of ribbons, gold medallions, holiday stickers, etc. Wrap in plastic wrap and tie with ribbon.

-- Submitted by Betty Alexander

Coming next week

Readers have souped up the soup recipes.

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567. If requesting a recipe, include the name or describe it.

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