14 March 2010

Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake

Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com
Chocolate cake is always a hit at any gathering. I'm not that keen on chocolate myself, but nearly everyone else in the world is. My quick and easy feeds-a-crowd chocolate buttermilk sheet cake is served right from the pan--perfect for any large casual party. I took it to a big party on Saturday and it disappeared in no time. Everyone was talking about it! 

Inspired by a cake popular in the '70s, I developed this recipe for a larger, more flavorful, slightly less sweet cake. It yields 32 servings and can be made start-to-finish, including frosting, in under an hour. The only special equipment required is a Sheet Pan Half Size - 12-7/8'' x 17-3/4'' Heavy Duty, 13 Gauge, the same one I use for my Meyer lemon sheet cake and so many other things. I hope you'll try it and let me know what you think.

Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake

(Makes 18x13x1-inch half-sheet, 32 servings)

The Cake

1 1/4 cups water or cold coffee
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
The Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) finely chopped pecans, toasted

1 Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan with cooking spray; don’t try to make-do with a smaller pan, or the batter will overflow.

2 In 2-quart saucepan, combine water, butter, cocoa and espresso powder. Heat, whisking occasionally, over medium heat until the butter melts.

3 In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Whisking for about 30 seconds sort of sifts the dry ingredients. In 2-cup glass measure, combine buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Add warm liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine; beat for about 30 seconds. Add the buttermilk mixture and beat for another 30 seconds. (A wooden spoon works perfectly well, but I use an English cake whisk, a kind of stainless steel wire spoon that has been made in Britain for over a hundred years.)

4 Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly (10 minutes) on wire rack while making the frosting. The slight cooling before pouring on the frosting gives the cake a better texture.

In same 2-quart saucepan (no need to wash it) over low heat, combine butter, buttermilk, cocoa, vanilla, espresso powder and salt. When butter is melted, bring to a boil; remove from heat. Whisk in confectioner’s sugar, whisking vigorously until smooth. Stir in toasted pecans. After cake has cooled for 10 minutes, pour warm frosting over warm cake and spread quickly. Cool in pan on wire rack for at least 4 hours.


Jan Fredrik Lockert said...

Comfort food with flair sounds great. It looks like your recipes are easy to prepair and yet require careful cooking (at least for the unexperienced). I love food with a classic flavour and will return for more of your recipes. Best regards, Jan F.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you. Yes, careful cooking--well put! And chocolate is one of those universal flavours, appreciated around the world.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Note: I had a reader from the UK who was not familiar with buttermilk, so I checked with a cook there who told me it is readily available at Sainsburys and Waitrose, not by the milk but by the creams and creme fraiche.

Mr. P said...

Looks good, Jean. I'm with you on the chocolate - I really wouldn't miss it if it deisappeared tomorrow, but I think we're the only two who think like that!

We do have buttermilk in the UK. But you can always just use yogurt, thinned with milk.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Yes, Mr P, I think there are only the two of us! When people remark on my dislike for chocolate I say, "I can eat a little just to be polite."

The yogurt thinned with milk, about half and half, would probably work well. Maybe add just a half tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of the combination for a little added zing.