There’s two things that will automatically make a girls day: chocolate and cake. When you put the two together, you have a recipe for the worlds best pick-me-up that rivals those absurdly cute kitty emails.
Yes, that kitty wearing a cowboy outfit while balancing on a tightrope singing Gangnam Style may bring a smile to your face. But one bite of a super moist, decadently rich, frosting slathered piece of chocolate cake wins hands down. Like this recipe from Patti for Secret Cake. I’m not sure why its called secret cake. Maybe because it’s so good you’ll want to keep it a secret. All I know is I’m glad she didn’t keep her recipe a secret from us!
You’ll need: buttermilk, baking soda, self-rising flour, sugar, vegetable shortening, butter, water, cocoa, eggs, vanilla, powdered sugar, and walnuts.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Pour 1/2 cup buttermilk into a 1 cup measuring cup, add baking soda and stir. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour and sugar and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, vegetable shortening, cocoa, and 1 stick of butter. Stir until combined and the butter and shortening have melted. Cook until this mixture comes to a slight boil. Remove from heat.
Pour the cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the buttermilk/soda mixture and scrape to get all of the mixture into the bowl.
Mix at medium speed using an electric mixer and continue until well combined.
Add eggs, one at a time and mix well after each addition.
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix well.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake at 400ºF for 20-22 minutes.
With about 5 minutes left on the baking time, make the frosting: In a medium saucepan combine 1/3 cup buttermilk, 1/3 cup cocoa and 1 stick of butter over medium low heat and stir as butter melts. Once it’s melted and combined stir constantly while cooking for about 3 minutes longer. Don’t worry if it starts to separate and looks like a curdled mess, it will be fine.
Remove pan from heat and add the powdered sugar. Mix well using an electric mixer. Once combined add 1 teaspoon vanilla and chopped nuts, mix well.
Now pour over the hot cake.
This cake is really moist and has great flavor, and the frosting is so smooth and as satiny I could eat it by itself.
Okay, I did eat it by itself—a lot. Thanks Patti for sharing this recipe with us. It’s an awesome secret!
The most wonderful chocolate cake. This recipe is a keeper. This recipe was given to me more than 30 years ago by my Mom’s neighbor, Sharon Kelley. I have changed the nuts over the years and have even made it without nuts for my son-in-law and my K-3 class at work. Baking it in the jelly roll pan gives more slices but in a brownie like piece which is easier for kids to handle.
- FOR THE CAKE:
- ½ cups Buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 2 cups Self-Rising Flour
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup Water
- ½ cups Crisco - Solid Shortening
- ¼ cups Cocoa Powder
- 1 stick Butter
- 3 Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- FOR THE FROSTING:
- ⅓ cups Buttermilk
- ⅓ cups Cocoa Powder
- 1 stick Butter
- 16 ounces, weight Powdered Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1 cup Chopped Walnuts
Note: All ingredients need to be at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
Pour 1/2 cup buttermilk into a 1 cup measuring cup, add baking soda and stir. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl sift together flour and sugar and set aside.
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat combine the following: water, Crisco, 1/4 cup cocoa and 1 stick butter. Stir until combined and butter and crisco are melted. Cook until this mixture comes to a slight boil. Remove from heat and pour into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add buttermilk/soda mixture and scrape to get all of the mixture into the bowl. Mix at medium speed using an electric mixer and continue until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix well.
Pour into prepared pan and bake at 400 F for 20-22 minutes.
With about 5 minutes left on the baking time make the frosting: In a medium saucepan combine 1/3 cup buttermilk, 1/3 cup cocoa and 1 stick of butter over medium low heat and stir as butter melts. Once melted and combined stir constantly while cooking for about 3 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat and add powdered sugar. Mix well using an electric mixer. Once combined add 1 teaspoon vanilla and chopped nuts, mix well. Pour over the hot cake.
This can also be baked in a jelly roll pan, just reduce baking time to 15 minutes. Do not substitute margarine for butter. You may also use different nuts.
Amber is a stay at home mom who lives in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks. It’s a long way from where she grew up, in Wales (yes, way over in the U.K.). The recipes in her blog Sprinkled with Flour include her original creations as well as her family recipes. Go check them out!
Comments are closed for this recipe.
Colette (Coco in the Kitchen) on 2.19.2013
Calling it a secret just dares me to bake it, right?
Hey, any excuse will do!
Janae on 2.18.2013
oh never mind! sorry i thought you ment margarine OR butter! my bad!
Janae on 2.18.2013
you put margarine FOR butter….just letting you know
can’t wait to try this is looks yummy! hey does anyone else have good reciepies for a dessert only cook book?!
TR on 2.16.2013
Here in Kansas Mennonite country this is call Sheath Cake. Ya know like “Bringing in the Sheathes”. Many in our area call it Texas Sheet Cake, too. But YES add the teaspoon of cinnamon in the cake batter, it will make all the difference in the world. Absolutely Yummy! I use dutch chocolate powder to make it even a more decadent flavor. The hot frosting makes a fudge like texture. I also use pecans instead of walnuts.
I think the Mennonite ladies made this for their men in the fields during harvest time. It was quick and easy to make and transports well.
Robbin P on 2.13.2013
My mom made this cake when I was growing up and I’ve been making it for years! The only difference with my recipe is we add 1 tsp of cinnamon in the cake.
Angie on 2.12.2013
This looks just like a cake MY mom’s best friend used to make for us when I was younger (we’re talking at least 40+ years ago). I can’t wait to show this to my mom, and try it! Thank you!
Libby on 2.11.2013
I am making this cake right now at this moment. It’s not done! Yes, oven is at 400′ in a9x13 pan! It’s not done jiggly center and it failed the toothpick test! Itsbeen I. For 32mi utesnowYIKES!
Jayne on 2.11.2013
Ooey gooey goodness! This seems similar to Ree’s chocolate sheet cake. Except this user a little shortening, which I can’t get around here. But the frosting caught me. I think that frosting will make even a simple butter cake divine.
Susan Jones on 2.9.2013
I also call it Texas sheet cake and mine is almost the same. It’s a cake I can have mixed, baked, and frosted in less than an hour. Very important to have the frosting ready as soon as the cake comes out of the oven so it can soak in a bit. (A touch of cinnamon or a hint of coffee would be good.) I take this to pot luck dinners and there isn’t a crumb left when I retrieve the pan. (If you take it to an event – take a copy of the recipe – you will be asked for it.)
Elizabeth L. on 2.9.2013
Yep, this is definitely Texas sheet cake, or as my mom calls it, Mrs. Logan’s Chocolate Cake. This is the only cake I want on my birthday; I love it so much. Yum, yum, YUM!
Karen on 2.9.2013
No, secret to this cake. It’s Texas Sheet Cake and I have been making it for 35 years. Only difference is a dash of cinnamon that I add to the cake. I agree it is wonderful and everyone wants seconds. Oh my gosh, wish I had company coming so I would have an excuse to make it right now.
Nancy on 2.9.2013
this is so very, very close to my Rocky Road Cake that I’ve been making for at least 20-years. Hubby’s fav and have won baking contests with it
Christyl on 2.8.2013
This is considered a family heirloom in our house. And it goes by several names: Texas sheet cake, buttermilk sheet cake, or just simply Janie’s cake – beause it was, hands down, my grandma Jane’s all time fave. It makes regular appearances at all types of family functions. And even though my grandma died several years ago, most of her kids, and their kids, make it every year on her birthday! I personally don’t think that on it’s own the cake is chocolaty enough. So I typically double the dry chocolate, add chocolate syrup in place of some water or use dark chocolate cocoa powder. We always make it in a jelly roll pan and we never use crisco (ewww…gross)
Other aditions/adaptations we’ve tried over the years:
Add cinnamon to the cake batter
Pecans not walnuts in the icing
Add instant espresso to the cake batter
Skip the cake entirely and just make a pan of icing!
Chocolate chips (mini), toffee crumbles or coconut flakes sprinkled on top after icing
Once cooled and cut, the pieces freeze beautifully in a plastic container
Victoria on 2.8.2013
Wow! This looks amazing!
Missy on 2.8.2013
This is very similar to a Texas Fudge Cake that my mom used to make. About the only difference between the two recipes is, she put cinnamon in her cake batter. They are heavenly cakes and SO worth making for any occasion.
Maria Tadic on 2.8.2013
This looks so yummy! I want cake for lunch now! Yum!
Kim (Soliloquy Of Food & Such) on 2.8.2013
must. make. this.
It’s like it hypnotized me with its gooeyness.
SandyH on 2.8.2013
This is good ol Texas Sheet Cake, and I grew up eating it!! Nothing better on earth…
Heather (Heather's Dish) on 2.8.2013