How to make delicious sheet cake

Pictured: the remaining 1/5 of a delicious sheet cake.

My mother’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and she made it known that she wanted a sheet cake for her birthday. Sheet cake is something that, in my head, she used to make all the time and we’ve had a few times in the last couple of years but not as often as we used to, and then I mentioned it to my wife and it quickly became clear that she had no idea what I was talking about, meaning we had somehow not had sheet cake once in the nearly twelve years that we’ve been married.

So I got the recipe from my mom and … uh, well, my wife made the cake, actually, because every time I try to bake it goes very poorly, but as you’ll see this is a really simple recipe and I totally could make sheet cake on my own and it’s completely Goddamned delicious and go make a sheet cake right now.

This will fill an 11 x 17 cookie sheet. Yes, a cookie sheet. Sheet cakes, as you might guess from the name, are flat.

Obtain two sticks of margarine, a quarter cup of cocoa, and a cup of water. Melt the margarine and bring everything to a boil. Mix two cups of sugar and two cups of flour in a mixing bowl (ideally, glass, as it’ll heat up less readily than metal) and pour the boiling mix over the dry ingredients. Then mix in two eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla, a teaspoon of baking soda and a third of a cup of either buttermilk or “sour milk,” meaning milk mixed with some quantity of vinegar that Mom wasn’t certain about, so we used buttermilk.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime, take another stick of margarine (yes, we’re up to three sticks, dammit, and don’t you complain about it,) another quarter cup of cocoa, an entire fucking box of powdered sugar (that’s what the recipe says; I assume the boxes are standardized, but who the hell knows) and a quarter-cup of hot water, melt the whole mess over a low flame, and beat the hell out of it with a wire whisk until it’s melted and no longer lumpy.

Give the cake five minutes after it comes out of the oven to cool off a little bit, then pour the icing over it. Optionally, sprinkle crushed walnuts over the top; we used to always do it this way when I was a kid but the boy has allergies so no longer.

Let it cool to room temperature and then eat the hell out of it. Eat the corners first; they’re the best parts. Ideally sheet cake is accompanied by a tall, cold glass of milk.


Published by

Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

7 thoughts on “How to make delicious sheet cake

  1. Sounds good – thanks! (especially good timing since I’ve been asked to make a sheet cake for the weekend)

    Is there a reason for using margarine and not butter?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 🙂

      Next question… The teaspoon of sugar that goes in with the eggs and vanilla… Is that actually salt? Because I can’t see the extra teaspoon of sugar changing much once 2 cups of sugar are already in the mixture.. :S

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Hehe! That’s presumably why I just baked the flattest of all flat sheet cakes 🙂

          I considered adding some but decided against it because I figured I should try the original version before tweaking it and making it my own..

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Not bad, the guy I made it for was happy, so I consider it a success (hasn’t made it into one of my favourites…yet…I’ll have to make it again (with baking powder) before making a “final decision”).

              I think I have a bigger problem with the icing than the actual cake.. Is it supposed to be gritty? If not, what did I do wrong? (and are your boxes really a whole pound?! I googled and was amazed.. And then halved the recipe.. ;))


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