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Texas Sheet Cake: a favorite funeral treat in Texas

3 min read

It was 2013 when, in an op-ed for “The Baptist News”, Dallas-based pastor Mark Wingfield recalled a disappointing post-funeral feast: “There was no green bean casserole, no fried chicken, no homemade rolls, no chocolate cake. Finally, someone in the family drove over to KFC to bring home the kind of food we all needed in the moment. And did I mention there wasn’t even a single piece of chocolate cake brought to the house?

Well…his shock is understandable, as many funeral spreads in the Lone Star State feature a large, chocolate confection locally known as Texas sheet cake.
The classic dessert is well-known for offering mourners comfort in the form of a moist chocolate base, gooey frosting, and a delicious crunchy topping of pecans or walnuts.
Another reason sheet cake might be a favorite funeral treat?
It’s easy to bake large portions at a moment’s notice to feed a copious crowd of mourners!

In addition to funerals, Texas sheet cake is a common sight at church events, leading to its nickname “church lady cake”.
In his Baptist News op-ed, the same author noted that the cake is “almost as common at church gatherings as communion elements.”
It also makes the occasional appearance at birthdays, Christmas (sometimes with crushed peppermint candy replacing the nuts), and Easter.

Although Texas sheet cake is large, it’s not as thick as a regular cake. Bakers tend to use a thin baking sheet or jelly-roll pan, achieving a thickness that’s similar to brownies.
To create its trademark gooey texture, they apply warm chocolate frosting shortly after the cake comes out of the oven, sometimes poking holes so the icing can seep inside.
There are lot of variations, including peanut butter, red velvet, vegan sheet cake, white sheet cake, and even gluten-free sheet cake, but the chocolate-on-chocolate version is the original and most popular and, in most of its various incarnations, Texas Sheet Cake involves tons of chocolate, complete with a buttery aftertaste and delicious, pecan-laced frosting.

If Texas sheet cake actually originated in Texas is debatable.
Many state that is due the recipe use of local specialties, such as pecans and buttermilk, and its large size as signs of its Texan heritage, as impressive portions are a point of state pride.
Another argument is that the cake’s wide, flat shape resembles Texan topography, but there was even a rumor that former first lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson was the cake’s inventor, even though historians couldn’t find any recipes confirming this story in the presidential archives.
And, about its age, it could be an early 20th century recipes. In fact, that’s when the price of chocolate declined to the point where it was readily available to general public. What was heretofore considered an expensive treat was now a common cooking ingredient. And some recipes titled “Texas Sheet Cake” come from in the mid-1980s.
But, in any case, nobody really knows.
And, although the early connection is murky, Texas’ relation to this treat is solid.
As a Dallas Morning News headline so aptly put it, “Cake this wonderful has to be from Texas, right?”

Images from web – Google Research