Chocolate Sheet Cake

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Sheet cakes remind me of childhood and feeding crowds. The simplicity and practicality of a sheet cake is hard to top. For me, a sheet cake is a single layer cake that is usually served in the pan it is baked in and frosted with a single layer of icing. No fancy cake stands, no towering multi layer cakes, no complicated assembly of cake and frosting. The good thing is pretty much any recipe can easily be adapted to become a sheet cake; it’s just a matter of volume. For example, in this cake, I have used my much loved Cake of Death recipe. The recipe makes enough batter to either make 2 x 8″ round cakes, 4 x 6″ round cakes, or 1 large 9″ x 13″ rectangular sheet cake. Most cake recipes will make a similar volume of batter, so instead of making two layers, just pour the entire amount into a prepared large rectangular cake tin.

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I’ve made this cake twice now for work. Sheet cakes are fantastic for taking to parties or other functions. Since you serve it in it’s cake tin, it’s easily to carry and transport. It also feeds a crowd. Inherently, the pieces are smaller because it’s just one layer. Cake of death as a 2 layer round cake feeds about 16 people. If you serve it as a sheet cake, you can easily get 20-22 slices. The first time I made this cake, I simply frosted it with some vanilla icing and sprinkle some crushed Oreos on top. This time I wanted to make it a little more polished and show that even the humble sheet cake and be elevated to an elegant, yet practical, dessert.

To ice this cake, I piped roses with vanilla buttercream using a large star tip, like the Wilton M1 or 2D tip. This technique of icing cakes is deceptively easy, provided you have buttercream that’s the right consistency and a piping bag.  Bakers have been frosting cupcakes with roses for ages, but it was the baking blogger, I am Baker, that really catapulted this technique into the spotlight. She has multiple tutorials on how to pipe the roses, so I will just focus on the cake and icing recipes here. I would highly recommend checking out her blog and her tutorials.

On both occasions, I took home any empty cake tin at the end of the day. This chocolate cake is supremely moist and chocolatey. One of my colleagues declared it the best chocolate cake he has ever had, and he doesn’t even like cake. I’ll take that compliment! It does contain a cup of strong coffee, so beware if you are sensitive to caffeine.

Happy baking!

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Chocolate Sheet Cake

Cake of Death

Makes one 9″ x 13″ cake

serves 20 people

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups/220g all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups/400g white sugar
  • 3/4 cup/ 90g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup/250 ml strong brewed coffee, room temperature
  • 1 cup/250ml buttermilk (add a few tsp of white vinegar or lemon juice to the milk)
  • 1/2 cup/125ml vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a large rectangular cake tin and line with baking parchment (the butter helps the paper stick to the pan, but is mandatory).
  2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
  3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  5. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  6. Frost with vanilla buttercream and decorate as desired.

Vanilla Buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 175g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 500g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 tbsp single cream or milk

Instructions:

  1. Beat the butter and vanilla together until the butter is fluffy, about 1 minute.
  2. Gradually add in the icing sugar with the mixer on low speed. Add milk as required. Continue slowly adding icing sugar until it is all used up. The amount of milk or single cream you may need will vary each time you make the icing. Your icing should be soft enough that you can easily spread it, but firm enough that it holds it shape.
  3. Beat on high for a further 30 seconds until icing is dreamily fluffy. Use immediately.
  4. Ice the cake in a thin layer of icing. Don’t worry about getting crumbs in the icing or if it looks messy. This is just a base coat before adding the roses.
  5. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe rose starting from the centre of the rose and swirling outwards. Pipe different sizes of roses and fill the gaps with smaller swirls or swooshes.

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